Africa: COVID-19 Gives Us a Unique Gap to Combat the Climate Crisis


The Covid-19 crisis is a (hopefully) once-in-a-century shock to the global economy that can make a critical impact on the climate crisis. Any fiscal response needs to place the largest emphasis on putting money into the hands of the poorest, and green policies can do that.

South Africa is the 14th-largest emitter of greenhouse gases globally, largely due to the economy's high reliance on coal-based power. In fact, Mpumalanga is the global number one hotspot for nitrogen dioxide emissions - a consequence of a large cluster of coal-fired power stations in the region. This has to change. We cannot afford to continue as we have in the past. Not only will it result in calamitous consequences for the climate, but it is also economically myopic; as countries seek to uphold their Paris Agreement climate change commitments, the demand for renewable energy is likely to continue to rise, and fossil fuel prices will fall with demand.

The Covid-19 crisis has the potential to mark a turning point in South Africa's progress on climate change. In response to the pandemic, we have already seen young activists demanding that we cannot return to the old system; they are calling for a "new normal"...

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