Countries, where individuals look after the environment, are better prepared to deal with public health emergencies, according to a paper published today (February 1) in the journal World Development.
Researchers at Kings College London Business School used data from 110 countries empirically linking the Covid-19 mortality rates and a set of country-specific factors consisting of pre-Covid-19 characteristics and a set of social, economic and health responses to the outbreak of the virus.
They found that individualistic societies fared significantly worse than collectivist ones in coping with Covid-19, resulting in much higher mortality rates.
In the context of Covid-19, individualistic societies are known to be less engaged with social distancing and other measures as they are likely to be less concerned about the favourable impacts of such actions on others.
They also found that the greater the climate risk and the lower the readiness to climate change, the higher the risk of mortality from Covid-19.
Countries that were better prepared for the climate emergency were also better placed to fight the pandemic. The data showed that these had consistently lower fatality rates.
This research highlights the crucial need for investment in both climate action and public health infrastructure as key lessons from the Covid-19 crisis, so countries can be better prepared for similar disasters in future.
Gulcin Ozkan, Professor of Finance at King’s Business School said: ‘Scientists have long-established links between climate change and pandemics. Climate change is known to drive wild-life closer to people, which in turn, paves the way for viruses that are harmless in wild animals to be transmitted to humans with deadly consequences.
‘In addition, the role of both extreme hot and cold weather in increasing mortality and of warmer climates in spreading diseases have been widely recognised. Given such significant role of climate change in health outcomes, and particularly in mortality, our research clearly establishes this link between climate risk, culture and the Covid-19 mortality rate.
‘It’s time more countries take the climate emergency seriously and governments should invest in the infrastructure that could have prevented further deaths.’
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