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Quick Takes

Executives Are Too Optimistic About a Return to Normal

Source: Oliver Wyman Pandemic Navigator; https://pandemicnavigator.oliverwyman.com/

Note: Each example represents only one of many possible pathways to the herd immunity threshold; pathways become more numerous and flexible the further out the target date.

Many executives are making planning decisions based on the notion that by the very beginning of 2021, things will get “back to normal.” However, according to recent Oliver Wyman analysis, the long haul will be longer than most expect with normalcy unlikely before Q3 2021.

Recent news on 90-95% vaccine efficacy and significantly higher daily case run rates than those examined above will also have an impact on timing to herd immunity. Taken together, an average new daily case rate of 120,000 and a 90% efficacy vaccine, can improve the timeline by over a month and a half. However, the impact of such a rapid daily case run rate is dramatic — it would result in an additional ~200,000 deaths as compared to a run rate of 70,000 new cases per day. 

Given the long haul in front of us, companies may need to consider if what has been working for the past seven months can be sustained for the next 9 to 12.

COVID-19 Threatens Press Freedom Across the World

Source: Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Note: White represents “Good Situation,” yellow represents “Satisfactory Situation,” orange represents “Problematic Situation,” red represents “Difficult Situation” and black represents “Very Serious Situation.”

Journalistic efforts were completely blocked or severely disrupted in 73% of the 180 countries analyzed in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index. Last year, only 7% had a “favorable environment for journalists,” compared to 8% of the countries in 2019.

“The coronavirus pandemic has been used as grounds to block journalists’ access to information sources and reporting in the field,” the report notes. The largest drop in ranking was Malaysia — down 18 places at 119 — as a result of increased censorship. Countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa ranked the lowest due to internet censorship, surveillance and propaganda — especially in China, which ranked 177th. 

Norway ranked first in the index, followed by Finland and Sweden. Europe and the Americas remain the most favorable continents for press freedom, despite “abuses” and “violations” against press freedom increasing. At the same time, the public is putting an increasing amount of trust in business, as opposed to media, along with expectations for social leadership, according to Edelman’s latest Trust Barometer.

Climate Risk Costs Increased by $60 Billion in 40 Years

Source: Brookings analysis of NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information data

Note: Climate disasters refer to droughts, floods, freezes, winter storms, severe storms, tropical cyclones and wildfires costing at least $1 billion each

Climate disasters in the United States have accounted for over $1.8 trillion in economic costs since 1980. The country has endured over 285 climate-related catastrophes in the past 41 years that cost at least $1 billion each, according to Brookings Institute. These disasters are becoming more frequent and intense: In the 2010s alone, they cost $81 billion per year — up from $18 billion per year in the 1980s. 

Flooding is emerging as one of the most frequent threats, impacting coastal communities more severely than other communities. Brookings states that “mitigating and adapting to these pressures will require more resilient infrastructure systems.”

Brookings laid out a three-part framework for the federal government to address urgent climate risks: measuring infrastructure needs, modernizing physical assets and experimenting with new technologies. And President Joe Biden recently released a $2 trillion plan for improving infrastructure and shifting to green energy over the next eight years. 

Climate Summit Leaders Set Out Largest Emissions Cut Since 2015

Source: CAIT, Climate Action Tracker, Marsh McLennan Advantage

Note: 34 parties including the U.S. were analyzed from the 40 World Leaders invited to the Leaders Summit on Climate. Leaders from the European Commission, European Council, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain were aggregated into one party—the “European Union”—for analysis. Total emissions data from 2018 was used and includes Land use, land-use change, and forestry (LUCF) and all greenhouse gases (CH4, CO2, F-Gas, N2O, etc.). Other parties not listed make up 1.9% of global emissions including, Chile, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Norway, Israel, Kenya, Gabon, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Singapore, Bhutan, Marshall Islands. The horizontal length of each region in the chart represents the share of total emissions of participants.

The Climate Leaders Summit last week set out the single biggest reduction in the global emissions gap since Paris, shaving off around two gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from 2030 emissions. (See footnotes 3 and 4 below.) Nevertheless, the emissions gap remains enormous — with around 29 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent left to address before the world can be on a 1.5 degree-Celsius pathway.

The summit’s participants are responsible for 81% of global emissions, with the 10 largest emitters accounting for two-thirds of the global total. Their key objective was to announce revised 2030 emissions reduction targets ahead of COP26.

Of those attending, the U.S., Canada and Japan announced new 2030 targets. The U.S. pledged to reduce emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030 and is responsible for almost 80% of the combined 2030 savings pledged at the summit.

1. Announced plans to strengthen NDC at Leaders Summit on Climate. 2. Strengthened or announced plans to strengthen NDC before the Summit. 3. For the calculation of US emission savings, we assumed for the baseline, the emissions reduction trend from 2025 to 2030 would have been a continuation of the 2005-2025 trend. 4. For countries which proposed a new emissions reduction target range, the midpoint was used.

 

Trust Remains the Key Determinator for Happiness During COVID

Source: World Happiness 9th Report

Finland ranked highest in overall happiness between 2018 and 2020, followed by Denmark and Switzerland. The 2021 World Happiness Report tracked 95 countries daily on three main indicators of citizen wellbeing: life evaluation, positive emotions and negative emotions. 

Finland’s ranking was buoyed by its successful management of the pandemic early on. It was able to contain the virus and saw mild economic changes in 2020 compared to its European neighbors. Citizens in Finland had a lower fear of catching COVID-19 and were more likely to wear masks. Both Finland and Denmark saw small changes in unemployment rates in 2020, with young and low-skilled workers less likely to lose their jobs.

Unsurprisingly, negative emotions in 42 countries were more frequent last year, while positive emotions remained unchanged. As countries continue to recover at different paces, the report notes that trust — in institutions and government, but also social trust, or trusting in the benevolence of others — is most important to individuals when determining their level of happiness.

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