University of San Diego

San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law

Library of Congress Authority File


This essay explores how the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic exposes and exacerbates structural inequalities in ways that are both obvious and alarming. It suggests that, even as the pandemic worsens inequality it forces us to confront it, and to see how the impacts of climate change will ripple unevenly across existing pathways of disparity.

The essay begins by examining how the COVID-19 pandemic is spotlighting and intensifying inequality and suggests that the vivid harms of the pandemic compel us to do more and do better to address structural inequality. The essay then provides an account of how climate change interacts with and amplifies the inequality that natural disasters and the pandemic uncover then briefly weaves the role of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) into the discussion. Here the essay suggests that the WIM creates an avenue through which to advance climate and equity-oriented recovery responses in the immediate wake of the pandemic. The essay concludes with an invocation to heed the lessons the pandemic is offering in order to avoid catastrophic climate disaster.