Articles | Aug 31, 2020

How COVID-19 Crisis Response Informs Next Steps for Climate Mitigation

Written By: Dennis W. Elsenbeck

When the pandemic hit New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo began holding daily media briefings to provide updates and reassurances—and most days, he would challenge New Yorkers to learn the lessons of this unprecedented crisis. As a member of the New York State Climate Action Council, the committee created to achieve the state’s clean energy and emissions targets, I believe it is important we do not let these lessons pass without fully examining our methods of crisis response and applying them to our climate situation.

Quite simply, the pandemic response has been focused on three things: demand, supply, and delivery solutions. To address demand, we focused on slowing the spread of COVID-19. To increase supply, we expanded hospital capacity, and acquired ventilators and protective equipment. To identify delivery solutions, we built alternative supply chains amid global disruption. To translate these lessons, we must think about end-use energy needs, renewable energy development, and transmission and distribution infrastructure holistically.

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Dennis W. Elsenbeck ( is the head of Energy and Sustainability, Energy Consulting Services, with the law firm Phillips Lytle LLP.

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