Has COVID-19 proved that we can solve climate crisis?

by | 16 October 2020 | Environment, Sherwood

Wasteful, polluting activities have pushed us to the edge of a global climate crisis but coronavirus has proved that the world has the ability to step back from the edge. Experts say that they feel more hopeful that we can effectively tackle climate change, but this optimism will only be justified if world leaders recognise the climate emergency and take immediate action to address the issues.

Professor Berners-Lee said: “Some things give me more hope than I’ve had for years, but we are so heading for trouble now in a short time frame… we really need this change right now.”

The way the world has responded to the coronavirus has shown that we are capable of a level of change we have, up to now, assumed is impossible. We have come to expect to live a certain way but we’ve just shown that the whole world can change if it we need to and if there is a will to do it.

Before the start of the virus, we had begun to see some positive signs that the climate crisis was being recognised – school children taking to the streets; protest groups like Extinction Rebellion. More people were adopting vegetarian and vegan diets and we were seeing a change of attitude in the business community.

The virus has shown that worldwide change is possible. World governments can take action quickly when needed. We now have to fight to come out of lockdown in a better way and make sure that everything about the recovery is working towards a greener, sustainable future. There is everything to play for and we have no time to lose.

Currently the health of our economy is measured by growth. Raw materials are extracted, processed, bought, sold and transported, taxed and subsidised, often moved vast distances, all emitting huge amounts of CO2 in the process. An example of this is the smart phone which contains cobalt from Africa, copper from Chile and aluminium from Australia. But while growth depends on increasing demand, the planet cannot cope with consuming more than we really need. Natural resources are being consumed at a faster rate than the Earth can replenish them and we are struggling with the resulting waste; you only have to look at single use plastics to see the impact on our oceans and landfill.

We need politicians on all sides to act on the severity of the threat from climate change. Politicians need to learn and accept the facts, and tell the public the truth, if we are to stand a chance. We need to abandon measuring our economy by growth and start looking at a way of living that reduces carbon emissions, which protects nature and our natural resources.

Humanity keeps finding ever more ingenious ways to harm the environment, like space tourism, but we need to adopt the urgent sense of purpose with which we addressed coronavirus and tackle the even greater threat of climate change if we are to have a sustainable future.

For more information about Sherwood Forest Friends of the Earth, we’re on Facebook: Sherwood Forest FoE, or email sffofe@btinternet.com.
Pauline Meechan
Sherwood Forest Friends of the Earth