Optimism during the coronavirus crisis. To quote, 90s Adidas enthusiasts, RUN DMC; “It’s tricky”. In this period, whistling past the graveyard can be interpreted as naivety or ignorance, so ensure you are whistling the right tune. Humanity is at a crossroads, the pandemic has provided a lot of time to stand still and consider our next turn, but we don’t have long.
Out of all the infuriating consequences birthed from Covid-19, the most unacceptable is the rupture in societal fault lines. Is there any reasonable explanation for black brits being 4 times more likely to die from the coronavirus than whites? Could it be a symptom of the same societal disease that led to 72 people burning to death in their homes when London’s richest borough ‘saved’ £293,368 by deciding not to purchase fire-resistant cladding?
For comparison, the UK Government has decided to provide EasyJet with a £600 million loan, a company that reportedly paid its founder £60 million in bonuses just a few months prior. Money that could be better invested outside of an industry that does significant damage to the environment. A big hand to Easyjet for carbon offsetting, but planting a few trees, does not provide a long-term solution, nor do governments attempt to prop up damaging and inefficient industries.
That’s before we get to the £200 billion bailout loans that the UK government has confirmed will be accessible to oil and gas producers. Now compare that to the figure of £10 billion that Crisis has estimated that it takes to eradicate homelessness in the UK. These two examples put paid to the idea that one of the wealthiest countries in the world is unable to afford an investment in the climate crisis or reduction in the insidious creep of inequality.
Now, I’m not a Trot, in fact, some of my best friends are tax exiled billionaires who own aviation companies. At one time I even owned an album by Bono, everyone’s second favourite Dutchman (for tax purposes) after Dennis Bergkamp. Granted, it was inserted onto my iPhone without prior consent but the 1% is generous like that. Now it’s time for the wealthy to actually do their part, because as South Korea has stated climate change cannot be beaten by governments alone. In other words, the private sector must play its part.
It’s time for governments everywhere to stop governing in the interests of the rich. Now is the time to get serious about preventing an even greater catastrophe and if that means taking resources intended for conglomerates and creating a robust, long-term climate response, so be it.
Since the beginning of the crisis, there has been some cause for celebration; pollution has dropped and we’ve seen a resurgence in wildlife. We are entering an era that could be glorious new dawn for the planet. But this fresh start is contingent on the decisions that are made by governments and private organisations worldwide. We cannot afford to forget the lessons from the 2008 crash, a period that saw bank profits reach unprecedented highs at the expense of society’s most vulnerable.
At first glance, there probably doesn’t seem to be a significant intersection between the climate crisis, inequality, and coronavirus. Incorrect, the climate crisis and pandemic flourishes through inequality. Destroying the earth in search of profit should not be tolerated by any of us and as global citizens we must make our voices heard by holding governments and industry to account. A fall in greenhouse gasses and emissions should not be the silver lining amongst catastrophe, but rather the very foundation of the ‘new normal’.
Author: Connor Lundy
Editor: Kat Nivera