Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Christiana Figueres has scolded the USA, UK and Brazil for not doing enough to protect their people. During her time as UN Executive Secretary for Climate Change, Christiana Figueres’ gift to the world was the Paris Climate Agreement.
Why “Irresponsible” Governments Are Failing To Protect Citizens From COVID-19, Climate Change
The U.S., the U.K. and Brazil have been “nothing but irresponsible” in their isolationist approaches to the coronavirus crisis, and such stances will weaken the global response to climate change, climate action advocate Christiana Figueres has said. At the same time, she claimed, the pandemic had created an opportunity to “reinvent” the economy in a way that valued sustainable outcomes over growth.
Figueres, the former UN Executive Secretary for Climate Change, made the comments yesterday to an online audience at the U.K.’s Hay Festival of Literature and Arts, which this year is being held digitally because of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.
“There is one responsibility that governments everywhere have, and that is to protect their citizens,” Figueres said, referring to the huge death tolls from COVID-19 seen in Britain and America. On the other hand, she said, “those countries that have managed to protect their citizens from the worst of COVID-19 have done their job, and they are probably the ones who are doing a better job on climate change.” Figueres singled out Germany, Iceland, Finland, New Zealand and Denmark as countries that in her view had dealt effectively with the pandemic threat.
“For years we have structured our economic process according to a linear trajectory in which we extract, we use and we discard. That is something that we can no longer afford to do.” Instead, she said, economies should move from “extract, use and discard” to a “circular economy,” whereby the end goal was not to increase economic output, but rather to regenerate resources.
The coronavirus pandemic had created conditions in which people were less resistant to change, Figueres added, and as a result humanity had an opportunity to “reinvent the way we do what we do,” from working habits and travel habits to communication and food production. “We’ve never seen anything like this,” she said, “so we shouldn’t let that opportunity go to waste.”
Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidrvetter/2020/05/26/why-irresponsible-governments-are-failing-to-protect-citizens-from-covid-19-climate-change/
Figueres didn’t mention Australia, perhaps because Australia totally contradicts her green anti-capitalist narrative; Australia has a right wing government, elected by voters who soundly rejected more intense climate action during the last election. A government which keeps greens seething with Australia’s Federal commitment to dispatchable energy, yet whose Covid infection numbers look just as good if not better than Christiana’s examples of “good” countries.
Having said that it is difficult to pinpoint exactly why Australia is doing so well. President Trump made a lot of the same moves as the Australian government; Trump was one of the first leaders to ban travel from China.
I had a quick play with the numbers, the most likely explanation I can think of for the difference between say the USA and Australia or New Zealand is low population density (population density is a strong predictor of Covid infection rates), and perhaps a little luck. The disease struck Australia during the height of our Summer, when Coronaviruses tend to be at their weakest.
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