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The climate emergency after the pandemic

John Quiggin

“Financing Climate Change” by Visible Hand (licensed under CC BY 2.0, Flickr CC)

In an excess of zeal, I’m planning an Australia-specific book (working title, Australia after the Apocalypse: rebuilding a liveable future) which will deal with the social, cultural and economic implications of the bushfire and pandemic catastrophes. This will complement

The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic which will be global in its scope, but narrower in its focus on economic issues. Over the fold, the opening section of a chapter on the climate emergency.

Among the many lessons drawn by ‘hard-headed’ observers from the 2019 election, the most important was that climate change had to be put into the ‘too hard’ basket. Our experience since then has shown this lesson to be radically mistaken.

First, the bushfire catastrophe made it obvious that catastrophic global warming is not a potential problem for future generations: it is a reality right here and now. We may be lucky for the next year or two, but apocalyptic fire seasons like that of 2019-20 are here to stay, goth in Australia and around the world.

Second, the scale of our necessary response to the pandemic has been massively larger than the effort needed to manage the transition to a carbon- free economy. The pandemic is (we hope) a short-term emergency while decarbonization of the economy will take several decades, but a modest commitment of resources every year involves far less disruption than a similar commitment made in a very short period.

Finally, it is time to ignore, indeed to ‘cancel’, the voices of those who, whether for financial gain or in the pursuit of a vindictive culture war, use dishonest talking points to deny the obvious reality of rising global temperatures and smear the thousands of scientists and other researchers. Most of these deniers showed their true colours in the course of the pandemic, first arguing that we should accept thousands of deaths rather than damage the economy, then turning on some state governments when it turned out that restrictions had been inadequate.

Source: John Quiggin blog, 17 July 2020 climate-emergency-after-the-pandemic/?

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