As we step and misstep through a global pandemic and return to some version of life as it was, we must remember that we were facing a climate emergency, and still are.
If you recall, we had ten years to dramatically reduce global emissions to hold most of the world to a Paris-ratified 1.5°C of global warming and avoid unthinkable damage to human life and the lives of millions of other species on the planet. We now have nine and a half.
In some senses, those lockdown months weren’t wasted. Before the pandemic, it was hard to imagine the compassion we would find, the sense of community we would develop, the endeavour we would show, and the radical investment we would make to deal with an international crisis. Equally, it was hard to imagine the quiet cities, clean air and plummeting carbon measures the pandemic would unexpectedly gift us.
Now, as we begin to reboot the global economy, we mustn’t reach towards life as it was but reimagine life as it has to be: set resolutely for a climate-positive future. And that means summoning our collective creativity and determination to reimagine much that lies within three spheres of influence we all have access to – our personal lives, the societies we are a part of, and the structural systems we operate in and uphold every day.
We’ll never be able to fully solve that crisis with solutions like the size of lightbulbs and plastic straws. But such an existential problem does require more agency from us all
Let’s look at these spheres one by one. In order to avert climate catastrophe and establish a kinder, more sustainable relationship between humans and planet Earth, each of us must radically reimagine our own personal relationship with it.
It’s important to acknowledge that some humans are vastly more responsible for the climate crisis than others. And we’ll never be able to fully solve that crisis with solutions like the size of lightbulbs and plastic straws. But such an existential problem does require more agency from us all. It requires each of us to ask how, exactly, we live the values we say we hold; it expects us to be honest about the hypocrisies we may find in our answers; and it demands we’re braver and more imaginative in our response.