As much of the world begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming years (many poorer nations may be some way off, depending on coordinated international vaccination efforts), another existential threat we face, climate change, will continue, with potentially far worse consequences.
There is a scenario of course, that the economic fallout from the pandemic will be so great that government and business environmental targets are pushed further back.
However, the pandemic has taught us that big, existential threats do happen, that the experts are right, and that we are collectively responsible for what happens in society.
There is, therefore, a more positive and just as likely scenario that the pandemic stirs stronger environmental action from governments and businesses.
What might this look like? One action governments could take would be to make post-COVID-19 stimulus packages contingent on environmental commitments. So not to burden businesses, a policy like this would require guidance on placing a strategic emphasis on environmental commitments and how they can improve a company’s bottom-line.
Perhaps a more passive positive outcome is that behaviour changes forced upon us by the pandemic – such as less flying and working from home – become permanent. Such changes would play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything within 24 months, but it will end. As it does, our relationship with the environment is up for change, and it needs to. Changing our society to have a better balance with the environment will not only help mitigate the existential threat of climate change, but will enhance all life on earth for decades to come.