Get Covid done so that we can get climate done

Mar 30, 2020

A substantial part of our extended family have joined in a group chat (on Zoom) to relieve the boredom of being locked-down to avoid infecting others. About half had met at the family climate emergency assembly in December 2019 and another 7 households now joined in the mulling over of the health crisis. This showed very clearly that family emergency assemblies will not require international or even domestic travel (with consequent emissions) and a request will be put out before the next group chat to discuss life after the virus has been contained. The hardship and grief might be such that a 'return to normal' would be as much as people hope for. However, following Schumpeter's principle of 'creative destruction', the devastation that is being wrought unwittingly on economies across the world should be an opportunity to use creative juices to imagine new normals; more egalitarian, more humanitarian, less frenetic and more ecologically sound.

The group chat also showed that climate breakdown is not yet very high on peoples' agendas. There was a sense that the talk should be around the experiences arising from the health emergency and that it might be an inappropriate intervention to say that carbon in the atmosphere has risen from 410ppm to 415ppm in the three months since the family emergency declarations and pledges to act. However, the ease with which the UK and US members of the family can get together suggests that there will be plenty of room for discussing progress in reducing our household and collective emissions.

The claim that the Covid-19 emergency has caused a reduction in carbon emissions seems right, when there are pictures of parked aircraft and empty motorways. However, the count should be going down as we enter the summer in the northern hemisphere where there is the majority of carbon sequestering forests, and this is not yet occurring. It will be interesting to see the annual comparison (see The Guardian Carbon Count) when the full impact of the global shutdown will be reflected in carbon emissions.