The pandemic has sparked a global response like never seen before. Governments and businesses taking on new drastic roles to the complete re-organization to how we work. A phenomenal change of life in just a short period of time.
However, in the act of all these changes, it has come with compassion, connection and care for the welfare of one-another.
The outcome over the next month or so could go one of just two ways,
- The risk that this pandemic poses in terms of the economy becomes clearer day by day. We may cast aside environmental aspirations for easy short-term fixes. Thus, stimulating the economy by subsiding fossil-fuel heavy industries and focusing on making more things, rather than using them better.
- We use this window as an opportunity and to come to terms with our reality in regards to highly possible pandemics, and not just of the virus kind. Scientists warn we have about a decade to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. This could offer to fix the climate crisis before it’s too late over the next decade.
There are five actions we should take that are brought on by the coronavirus to lay the ground work for the transformation desperately required in the coming years.
Building a good response system that is ready for most probable pandemics such as another virus where the whole world doesn’t have to go on lockdown again.
In terms of climate change, if it does begin to worsen over the coming decades – even with the aid of humans – we should build a system in-case our help is already too late.
Listen to global perspectives
The global nature of Covid-19 and of course the global affect climate change will have, we need to realise we are all in this together. China sending help to Italy represents a shift in recognition and acknowledgment that events in one part of the world can ripple to other parts. Are we going down the path of national isolation or global solidarity?
Author of Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari explains our options.
Make people the top priority
Many individuals are re-arranging their lives to practice social distancing, offering elderly neighbours help with their chores and volunteering in health facilities and food banks, showing the power that can be unleashed when we are united behind a common cause.
Businesses are easing the global work lay off by coming to terms with the money their workers need by offering furloughs. Governments are committing trillions to help those who have been affected by the disease.
All this shows that a large-scale response to a global crisis is possible. We need to harness this wave of compassion and proactivity to protect vulnerable people in all contexts, including those most exposed to climate impacts.
Knowledge has always been power in many things, but never as much as the current times, especially on what to do with Covid-19 and where to go looking forward. All this talk about flattening the curve and listening to scientists and doctors on all forms of media, might just represent a turning point in a trend towards the demise of experts.
Make a cultural shift
Similar to the current epidemic, similar responses will need to happen as part of a comprehensive climate-change response. The interesting thing though, is the shift in culture. Will people agree to drastically change their life – what makes them happy, what they hold value and sentimental? That will be the biggest challenge.
It is clear that we have many of the tools to make major advances in addressing climate change; what we need now is the political will to apply them.
Much remains uncertain about what the world will look like when we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the fundamental societal changes we are witnessing may well offer us a final chance to avoid a climate catastrophe.
Credit: Victoria Crawford – World Economic Forum