CoVid lessons for climate change challenge

30th Mar 2020


At the early stage of the emergency, I read comments from climate change activists who suggested that the downturn in emissions, as industry shut-down, was proof we could meet our 2050 carbon targets.

As reality dawned on them, they have rightly gone quiet. Nothing will turn people against action against climate change than the prospect of major economic upheaval and huge disruption to peoples’ lives.

But there are some lessons we can take. A couple of months ago few people would have heard of the Chinese city of Wuhan. An even smaller number would have predicted that a bat infecting the food chain would cause global stock markets to crash; economies to nose-dive and whole countries to lockdown their population.

But that is the nature of globalisation, we are becoming increasingly interdependent. What happened in a Chinese food market had deadly consequences across the planet. It is a huge mistake to think the solution is to close borders, that simply will not happen. So we have to pay heed to the consequences of our actions elsewhere and vice versa. That is where smart climate change policy will now focus.

If we recognise our international obligations so that others are not harmed, then the lesson from CoVid19 will have registered. If we want to avoid mass migration flows from villages, towns and cities we may never have heard of, then preventing global warming is a must.

The other side of the coin is the harsh reality of money. To pay for the economic actions to deal with the 2008 financial crash the UK endured (my view) 10 years plus of austerity. Tackling coronavirus will cost the government more, and it will have to be paid back at some point, somehow. I’m not sure the shoulders of the average taxpayer are broad enough to support this and being asked to fork out additional cash to combat climate change.

This will mean Government will need no-regrets and low-cost options to keep the momentum towards NetZero. Utilising the assets we already have will be a bonus. I wonder if any industry is better equipped than gas to meet that challenge?

Best wishes

Mike Foster