The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, and the work of rebuilding will take more than a vaccine.

“There’s going to have to be an economic recovery from COVID. You know, there’s been a worldwide economic recession,” says Robert Dubrow of the Yale Center on Climate Change and Health.

He says as countries rebuild, they have an opportunity to accelerate the transition to clean, renewable energy. And that would help solve another public health crisis: climate change.

Warmer temperatures will increase deadly heat waves, food shortages, natural disasters, and disease. And burning fossil fuels creates toxic air pollution that harms peoples’ lungs and can cause heart disease.

“Apart from the climate change benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, there are really tremendous public health benefits that are more immediate,” Dubrow says.

So he recommends that as countries pass their COVID recovery packages, they prioritize climate solutions such as clean energy and green transit.

“We could make a tremendous kind of down payment on this transition that we need to renewable energy if we’re going to avoid catastrophic climate change and therefore catastrophic public health consequences,” he says.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.