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Issue #1913      May 4, 2020



With all eyes on the COVID-19 pandemic, other political issues have taken a backseat, and climate change hasn’t been an exception. What makes this a particularly sad case is that there was a lot of momentum behind climate justice, especially here in Australia, off the back of the bushfire crisis (doesn’t that seem like a century ago?). While solving the COVID-19 pandemic is crucial, we have to make sure that climate action doesn’t drift away in the proverbial rear-view mirror.

Last week, thirty environmental leaders met up precisely to discuss climate change post-COVID-19 at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. The intersection between COVID-19, climate change, and the economy was not lost on those attending. Surprisingly, it was UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma whose words reflected the reality of the situation we are currently in: “The world must work together, as it has to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, to support a green and resilient recovery, which leaves no one behind.” However, how this is achieved is an entirely different situation, with “Green Capitalism” and Socialism providing substantially different perspectives.

It is probably of no surprise to anyone that given the social distancing laws enforced everywhere around the world that CO2 emissions have had their largest annual fall to date. While this is good news, it is clearly only temporary; we need to ensure and pursue comprehensive climate reform for the long term. Perhaps one of the more enlightening aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is how quick governments can be in responding to the crisis. One of the many mantras of the governments around the world regarding climate action was that aggressive measures were impractical, requiring endless investigative research before any major decisions could be made. Oh, how times have changed! Only when the global economy is on death’s door, do bourgeois parties find the means to tackle world-changing crises.

And while stimulus packages have become all the rage, residents in central Victoria have campaigned to ensure that further economic packages tackle climate change as well as the impending recession. Rob Law from Campbells Creek has started a petition for “all levels of government to use injections into the economy to reduce emissions and increase climate change resilience,” according to The Advocate. Law told The Advocate “that [he] believes ambitious emissions reduction could help lift the state from its coronavirus induced crash.”

And Law may not be wrong. The US economy is hurting particularly bad as the price of petrol is tumbling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, countries like China are looking forward to alternative forms of energy. Last year The Conversation noted that China’s renewable energy plans include “a feed-in-tariff policy for renewable energy generators, which offers them a guaranteed price for their power,” in addition to “energy efficiency standards for power plants, motor vehicles, buildings and equipment; targets for energy production from non-fossil sources; and mandated caps on coal consumption.” This is on top of the extensive solar and wind installations and the development for domestic industries for “solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles.”

COVID-19 has showcased how unprepared and fragile capitalists governments around the world are. It has also shown how quickly governments can act when needed. These are points we need to take away once this crisis is over, and we must translate them into the conversation about climate action. Not only do we need to secure a healthy planet for all life on Earth but we need to ensure the livelihood of the working-class by future-proofing the economy with investments into renewable energies. We need more than ever to call on our government to act and accept no excuses. If a conservative government can pass stimulus after stimulus to keep capitalism on life support, it can very well do the same for our planet.

Next article – MAY DAY 2020 GREETING

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