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Climate activists: Coronavirus response needs to be ‘a Global Green New Deal’ to ‘decarbonize the global economy as fast as is feasibly possible’


By Laurie Macfarlane

Excerpt: “The pandemic is also causing a headache for global capital: trillions of dollars have been wiped off global stock markets, as fears a global recession grow. The IMF recently predicted that a recession half as severe as the global financial crisis would leave $19tn of corporate debt – nearly 40% of all corporate debt in major economies – at risk of default. This could trigger a potentially destabilizing cycle of events in the global banking system – a system that is still on life support from the global financial crisis.

Carbon emissions in China have also fallen by a quarter, mainly thanks to declining industrial production and energy demand. If this trend continues elsewhere, analysts say it is possible this will lead to the first fall in global emissions since the 2008-09 financial crisis…

But once the outbreak subsides, attention will inevitably turn to how the global economy can be rebooted. Before we rush to reinstate ‘business as usual’, we should pause to consider the impact this might have on human and environmental health.

…On top of all of this lies the small matter of the climate emergency. Our economic system has pushed our environment beyond safe operating zones, threatening the foundations upon which civilisation depends. Scientists warn that without “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”, the result will be devastating and irreversible damage to our climate and environment.

Restoring the status quo would not be a neutral act – it would be an active decision to deepen our environmental crisis.

Towards a Global Green New Deal

If we really care about the health of people and planet, we should think twice before we decide to spend money on accelerating this destructive trajectory. While it is essential that jobs are maintained and undue hardship is avoided, propping up the status quo is not the only option available.

Instead, governments could forge a different path by unleashing a vast program of investment to decarbonize the global economy as fast as is feasibly possible and bring our environmental footprint within fair and sustainable limits. The effect would be to mobilize resources to transform our energy, transport, housing and agriculture sectors, decarbonize production and consumption, and restore our natural ecosystems.

In 2008 we bailed out the banks – this time we should bail out the planet. Countries that have contributed the most to environmental breakdown have a moral obligation to lead by example, and support other countries as part of a global just transition. As well as placing the global economy on a more sustainable path, this would create a new wave of high-skilled, low carbon jobs.

This plan has a name: a Global Green New Deal. In the face of a growing environmental emergency, it’s the only game in town. We simply cannot afford a return to business a usual.

End excerpt


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