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Ten lessons from the pandemic that we must use in the fight against climate change

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In the previous article, I tried to explain why there is a different reaction to the climate crisis compared to the reaction to a pandemic. Related to that, I am of the opinion that there are at least 10 lessons that we could learn from this health crisis and that we can start applying today in the fight against climate change.

The crisis caused by the extremely rapid spread of the coronavirus has led us to think about what we can learn from it. The following ten lessons can help us fight climate change:

  • It is essential to establish flexible and resilient institutions in a timely manner. 

We must establish flexible and resilient institutions in a timely manner, focusing on development priorities. These institutions must utilize early warning indicators, as it turns out that we lack the ability to predict the hazards which can be manifested from certain risks. The fact remains that both the pandemic and climate change are crises which were possible to predict. Additionally, we need to use more computer models and perform stress testing for various potential future scenarios.

  • The future depends on new knowledges and innovations. 

The knowledge acquired in the previous years is obviously insufficient to adequately respond to all aspects of risks and the way they manifest themselves. While the new virus requires a new treatment and vaccine, the fight against climate change requires new holistic tools that lead to systemic solutions – zero emissions, energy efficiency, sustainable use of resources and food production and the like.

  • Global cooperation and solidarity must be raised to a new level. 

One thing that the corona crisis has demonstrated is a considerable disunity in combating the disease. Even geographically close countries with a similar concentration of the disease implement completely different methods in fighting the pandemic. Like the contagion, climate change does not recognize borders. This brings us to one conclusion: without international cooperation, there is no success. Now, more than ever, the world needs us to enable sharing information and best practices, and the great powers must abandon the politics of confrontation.

  • Data, information, knowledge, communication and transparency are the five pillars of success. 

What leads to success in the fight against crises is trust in the system, and it is formed only through communication based on scientific facts. Unfortunately, as in the case of climate change, politicians see their opportunities in a crisis, jeopardize said pillars of success and deprive scientists of freedom and space, thus allowing conspiracy theorists to get their fifteen minutes of fame. However, the coronavirus crisis is a great test for scientists as well as an opportunity to change and reinforce the manner of communicating the facts about climate change, which must be convincing and acceptable to the majority.

  • It is necessary to find a solution which is applicable to both rich and poor countries. 

It is common knowledge that crises hit poor countries the hardest. What is even more devastating is the fact that these countries have the least impact on the outbreak of crises. It is finally time to find adaptable solutions to protect all regions and countries equally.

  • Extreme measures can mobilize millions of people and give quick results, but… 

It is estimated that, as a consequence of significantly reduced movement of goods and people due to the ‘lockdown’, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 8% this year. In order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, this level of annual reduction of greenhouse gas emission is desirable in the future as well. However, it is clear that a complete ‘lockdown’ cannot last until 2050, because the economy and society would be devastated. We must not forget that sustainable development requires a balance between economic, social and environmental goals. Certainly, a more favourable option is to replace the use of fossil fuels with renewable sources as soon as possible and to improve energy efficiency.

  • New crises always highlight weaknesses that have not been successfully overcome in the past. 

The accumulated problems that have been swept ‘under the carpet’, reappear as ‘skeletons from the closet’ in a new crisis. We are witnesses that during this year, the problems of racism, famine, poor education, etc., have become relevant again. It is necessary to keep in mind that a crisis does not come alone, and it is necessary to anticipate the necessity of utilizing additional energy, knowledge and leadership skills to resolve several problems occurring at the same time.

 Deteriorating climatic conditions can significantly endanger health conditions (for example, in cases of extreme weather conditions, such as storms, fires, etc., many people may be left without a home and health care and thus be exposed to infectious diseases). Solving the problem of climate change significantly reduces the potential for the spread of infectious diseases.

  • Crises make us think about what we really need in life. 

Also, the necessity of greater self-sufficiency in food, medicine, resources and energy is restated. In addition to responsible, sustainable production, it is very important not to forget responsible consumption.

  • The adaptability of the business sector is enormous. 

The corona pandemic has proven that certain meetings and trips can absolutely be reorganized – most of the important meetings can be held via online channels. As transport alone accounts for about 25% of global emissions, new circumstances can help the business sector to further contribute to the fight against climate change.

(The article was initially published at Balkan Green Energy News)

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