Will the Covid crisis help us transition to net zero carbon in time to prevent climate breakdown?

There is a vigorous debate about what if any impact the Covid crisis will have on the transition to net-zero carbon in time to prevent climate breakdown. I don’t think that it is entirely to be unexpected that the UK and other governments will want to prioritize measures that are intended to ‘fix’ the economy - including some actions that might reverse the environmental gains caused by a stalled economy such as less air travel and less use of cars.

Claims are being made that the Covid crisis has proved governments to be capable of interventions in citizens lives previously thought to be unimaginable but which could be a rehearsal of interventions at a similar scale in order to avert climate breakdown. The reason UK citizens seem to be accepting these measures is said to be that the purposes are being explained by politicians and backed by experts. The parallel would be for climate change scientists to be standing at the lectern at No10 when the PM announces that there will be no bail out for the airlines and no more subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. Taking the view that this is unlikely to happen, and climate breakdown will not attract government attention while the crisis persists (if that is not a contradiction in terms)must mean that the onus for taking action is placed even more firmly on the citizenry. There are many aspects to our lives associated with carbon emissions and the destruction of wildlife that would be more easily and effectively addressed by government intervention. However, if that seems to be unlikely in the short term (which is when action is most important) the onus falls even more heavily on the people.

I am one of those who are sceptical about relying on individual actions. But the web site www.familyclimateemergency.net explains that taking individual or household actions but with the encouragement and support of extended families could be far more effective and less stressful. The footprint calculator on that web site or the one on Better Century would enable progress to be made while waiting for the government to catch up. Given that governments do more following than leading, citizen action is no bad thing. There could be a silver lining to the Covid cloud.

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