– The Washington Times – Monday, September 28, 2020

The novel coronavirus shutdowns and restrictions are slowly being lifted in most areas, but already warnings of a “climate shutdown” have begun reverberating on the environmental left.

Mariana Mazzucato, a University College London economics professor, said it last week with an article called “Avoiding a Climate Lockdown,” warning that in “the near future, the world may need to resort to lockdowns again — this time to tackle a climate emergency.”

“Under a ‘climate lockdown,’ governments would limit private-vehicle use, ban consumption of red meat, and impose extreme energy-saving measures, while fossil-fuel companies would have to stop drilling,” she said. “To avoid such a scenario, we must overhaul our economic structures and do capitalism differently.”

Her op-ed was immediately flagged by climate skeptics who noted Ms. Mazzucato is no obscure academic — she’s an adviser to the United Nations and European governments — and warned that the COVID-19 shutdowns have provided a blueprint for how to reduce emissions in a “climate emergency.”

“When COVID came along and the entire world went into a grip of fear and immediately started locking down, everything the climate activists had been demanding almost happened almost overnight,” Climate Depot’s Marc Morano said in an email. “In short, the COVID lockdown is a trial run for the climate lockdown.”

Climate change and coronavirus have been linked repeatedly by prominent figures such as former Vice President Al Gore and billionaire Bill Gates, who said in an Aug. 4 op-ed, “As awful as this pandemic is, climate change could be worse.”

In July, the World Economic Forum launched the Great Reset Initiative to “jointly and urgently build the foundations of our economic and social system for a fairer, sustainable and more resilient post-COVID future.”

“They are not letting a crisis go to waste,” said Mr. Morano, who released last week the film “Climate Hustle 2.” “They’re calling for a socialist great reset against capitalism. They’re going to try to morph climate and COVID together and you’re going to go from a COVID lockdown to a climate lockdown.”

Others noted that her article appeared on Project Syndicate, billed as “the world’s opinion page” and funded by, among others, billionaires Bill Gates and George Soros.

“George Orwell is turning over violently in his grave,” Joseph Vazquez said on the conservative Media Research Center’s NewsBusters. “Tracking PS’s funding explained the tyrannical radicalism. Three groups within Soros’s Open Society Network ($1,242,105), along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($5,280,186), have given PS at least $6,522,291 between 2012-2019.”

The pandemic lockdowns wound up reducing global emissions by about 5% from 2019 levels by mid-June, but climate activists have argued that greater reductions are needed to avoid a “climate crisis.”

University of Colorado Boulder professor Roger Pielke Jr. was skeptical: “I can think of nothing more effective to sap support for climate policy than threatening a ‘climate lockdown,’” he tweeted.

Ms. Mazzucato, who serves on the U.N. Committee for Development Policy, criticized in a Friday interview on Bloomberg television the granting of COVID-19 recovery funds to oil-and-gas companies.

“Last year, the International Panel on Climate Change argued that we just have 10 years left, 10 years left until climate breakdown basically is irreversible, but in 2019, so just last year, subsidies for fossil-fuel companies were estimated at something like $20 billion a year in the U.S. and $55 billion a year in the European Union,” she said, adding, “What we actually need is a new social compact.”

Ms. Mazzucato founded the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, is author of “The Value of Everything” (2017) and “The Entrepreneurial State” (2013). She has served as an adviser to the Scottish and Italian governments, and European Commissioner Carlos Moedas.

Her website says her research has been funded by the Ford Foundation, the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and Mr. Soros’s philanthropy, the Open Society Foundations.