COP26 has been (unsurprisingly) postponed, but there's no reason that momentum on #climateaction should slow down! In fact, lessons learned during this current global crisis are important for future COPs. Here are 14 lessons learned from the corona pandemic crisis that can be applied to the climate crisis.
1. Listen to the scientists! Trust the scientists! The experts are experts for a reason (lifetimes dedicated to research and facts) and their warnings are not conspiracies but to preserve life for future generations.
2. Ignoring global problems don't make them vanish, it just makes those politicians the least prepared to deal with the most severe effects. Delayed action costs more lives.
3. Global problems need global solutions. The actions of one country are not enough to save the world, but collectively, countries can do a LOT to make things better.
4. Not one country was fully prepared for a pandemic or is ready for the most dramatic effects of climate change. Actions, research, and funding need to be invested in now, for the future of humanity.
5. Countries in which leadership acted transparently, clearly, and according to science saw less mass-panic than in countries in which the leadership chose not to act or hide
6. We now KNOW that rapid, large-scale mobilization, action and change by governments is possible.
7. Individual actions can have significant impact, and more importantly, spur change in others to act as well. By not getting anyone else sick, we have seen success in measures to flatten-the-curve in many countries. Likewise, these actions are most effective when done in mass. Setting good examples and following them help keep everyone on track.
8. The most vulnerable during 'normal' times are disproportionately more at-risk during crises. From the lowest socio-economic classes to those struggling medically, it is vital that they do not get left behind.
9. 'Essential workers' are not CEOs, but some of the least paid workers. Sustainable economic development in developed and developing countries means creating/modifying the current systems. Not only do we need more trained medical staff in the future, but the post office works, and grocery store works are the heroes in this time. Unfortunately, many of them have the stress of economic insecurity now and in ‘pre-corona times’. Heroes deserve better.
10. SDGs (the sustainable development goals) are just as important in times like these as they are for a future on earth with more equality, less poverty, more equal opportunity, less pollution and more education.
11. Humans need earth, it doesn't need us. In places where factories have been shut down and traffic reduced, we've seen significant recovery of air quality in short amounts of time (also, after Chernobyl, but a covid example). The short-term effects are just that-temporary. Long-term reduction of fossil fuels is needed.
12. Fake news and propaganda are particularly dangerous when people are scared. There will always be those who aim to profit off of the suffering of others, and nowadays, they have the internet of trolls to present themselves in a positive light, or as in ‘accurate narrative’. It is important now, more than ever, to trust media which can verify it’s facts, and has a track record of accurate and honest reporting.
13. A cultural shift in thinking is needed to consider multiple perspectives when confronted with big problems. Thinking should not just be 'how does this affect ME', but 'how does this effect ALL OF US'.
14. Civil society can help play a role in science and tracking, dispersing accurate information and promoting altruistic attitudes (i.e. 'neighbors-helping-neighbors').
Amid tragedy and crisis, it’s important now more than ever to stay focused on the future. How people, governments and the international community respond to the current pandemic has an impact on how humanity will respond to the climate crisis. Some the lessons learned from the current crisis give hope to the capabilities we have to respond to climate change by taking action today, for tomorrow.
Bradlie Luisa Ana Martz-Sigala
Climate Reality Leader