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Climate emergency requires the same response

It has been said many times lately: we have a window of change now when the financial stimulus packages are being launched globally. This narrative, however, makes us think that the climate crisis is a side-business that we can co-solve when some other crises occur, writes Secretary General Simon Holmström.

Poster from a Helsinki demonstration. Photo: Unspash.

According to several global reports, the lockdowns have had a drastic effect on the emission of greenhouse gases. Yet, as countries are recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a huge risk of going back to business-as-usual. Already during the spring bailouts, the UN warned that lowered environmental standards will not only pose an even larger threat to the planet, but also "jeopardize the rights of vulnerable people”.

While the EU and many countries have rolled out their recovery plans including a fair deal of green stimuli, the question remains: Why are we tackling the climate crisis as if it was a side-business? If we had considered it as the threat it is, we would have:

  • listened to the scientists

  • supported drastic governmental measures

  • changed our behaviours for a common good, and

  • seen governments use the entire arsenal of policy tools.

Some months ago, Greta Thunberg and a range of signatories sent an open letter on this matter to the EU and heads of states. The letter puts it like this:

It is now clearer than ever that the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis, neither from the politicians, media, business, nor finance.

We know the climate crisis is the largest threat to the global economy. Also, we know what we need to do, and we have an international framework for the common pursuit - the Paris Agreement.

As Secretary General for ReGeneration 2030, I was recently invited to the digital seminar "Choosing Green" organised by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The seminar highlighted the need for a green recovery and that the Nordics have a good opportunity to show international leadership. But it takes a lot of risk awareness for that to happen. I strongly believe that we should act in the same way as for the Covid-19 pandemic: organise weekly press conferences by government officials, issue behavioural recommendations and use the entire arsenal of policy tools. Especially the Nordic countries should be able to do this, following the bold Nordic vision to become the most sustainable region in the world.

The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us a lot. Let us use our insights to tackle the climate crisis too.

Author: Simon Holmström

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