Alice Hill | The Fight For Climate After COVID-19

Alice Hill | Adaptation Critical To Our Global Climate Preparedness Strategy

In this episode of Shaping The Future, I am speaking with Alice Hill who was Special Assistant to President Obama at the White House and Senior Director for Resilience Policy at the National Security Council, working on climate change and pandemic preparedness.

In her new book, ‘The Fight For Climate After COVID-19’, to be published on the 5th September, Alice makes the case for why it is imperative that we begin the necessary planning for adaptation for concurrent and consecutive climate extremes that threaten society the world over.

With COP26 on the horizon, we are seeing decades of climate policy on mitigation come to virtually nothing as emissions still rise. 

The case being made here is that it is essential we make adaptation and building resilience a central feature of our approach to this decade and beyond.

I want to thank the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change (GMACCC) for their help in organising this series of interviews with security experts.



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Timestamps based on interview questions:

hill fight for climate after covid 19 cover black borderOrder 'The Fight For Climate After Covid-19' by Alice Hill

01:20 Most of the narrative around our climate change response at the moment is very focussed on mitigation and debate rages on, regarding whether we are doing enough, fast enough. Your book is a very pragmatic and, in many ways reassuring, breakdown of what we need to do to adapt to climate impacts.

Can you start by giving us some background on what led you to write a book that is essentially a global climate preparedness strategy?

03:16 Early on in the book you refer to failures of imagination that mean we cannot prepare effectively. Can you elaborate on what this means and the tools that will need to be developed and deployed in order to fill the imagination gap?

06:40 We are getting strong signals now of what extreme climate-driven impacts look like. You discuss preparedness for concurrent and consecutive disasters. Can you give an example of this kind of scenario and the resilience that would be needed?

09:00 If you take the US, or Europe, for example, we don’t seem to hear much talk about preparation for adaptation, compared to places like Bangladesh, despite the impacts becoming more severe and widespread. Why is it so hard for developed nations to get ahead on this?

14:10 You outline some excellent examples of leadership success and leadership failures, making the point that leadership matters.

Looking at how countries have responded to the pandemic, there are obvious winners and losers but, generally, are you seeing the leadership qualities we need to steer us through the critical resilience building years ahead?

15:40 Another major theme you highlight is the borderless nature of climate change and how our response should be equally borderless. If you take a country like the UK and even the US, it seems that we have an unhelpful obsession with borders. How does greater resilience relate to greater cross-border cooperation?

*Include water sharing (17:25).

19:10 You use the term ‘survival migrants’ in the book - what are these and how do they fit into the landscape of global change we are entering?

20:05 Is this one issue perhaps a great test of our empathy and humanity?

28:00 How close are we to the point where insurers (and re-insurers) stop insuring?

31:25 In a press conference a few days ago with an agricultural producer in the US I asked how much of their climate strategy was allocated towards adaptation.

The answer came back that the focus was purely on mitigation. Can you end by summarising why adaptation planning and mitigation strategies must be treated with equal seriousness right now?