Three Ways COVID-19 Prefigures a Response to the Climate Emergency

Anton Darius, Unsplash

Governments right now are a little like the X-Men. Having mostly kept their powers hidden, citizens in liberal democracies are discovering that our governments have extraordinary powers to mobilise significant resources in response to a crisis.

Where governments declare an emergency they are capable of extraordinarily quick responses to emergent problems. Political deadlocks vanish, stimulus funding magically appears, and old ideologies are set aside.

All of this means the dithering around climate change is unnecessary. Radical economic and social change is possible. There are three key ways that COVID-19 has changed our idea of what is politically possible with regards to climate change.

#1 — Politicians Can Tell the Whole Truth

#2 — We Can Act Quickly and Decisively

#3 — We Can Bypass Politics-As-Usual

“…the premiers and the Prime Minister said to us, the health advisers, ‘Give us your fearless advice and we will take it.’”

This deference to expertise in policymaking hasn’t happened with the climate crisis in spite of well-researched roadmaps to help Australia achieve net-zero emissions. For the climate crisis, experts and the public can work together through citizens assemblies to develop policy in a way that bypasses politics-as-usual.

COVID-19 has revealed a radically different politics is possible. In a week governments have told the truth, acted quickly, and moved beyond politics. These are the demands of Extinction Rebellion.

What seemed impossible last week now seems possible.

If we learn from the COVID-19 experience, we can make it inevitable.

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