South Africa: The Corresponding Crises of Covid-19 and Climate Change - an Opportunity for Structural Changes

opinion

The massive, urgent global response to the Covid-19 pandemic shows that it is possible to bring foresighted leadership to existential threats to humanity. The question is why, with such clear information on the threat available in science, the world has not shown similar urgency to the question of climate change.

The coronavirus pandemic poses an existential threat to human lives and livelihoods. Identified by the World Health Organisation as recently as January 2020 as a cluster of pneumonia outbreaks in Wuhan City, China, the advent and spread of outbreaks has served to highlight global unpreparedness, leadership and governance inadequacies as well as issues of inequality and vulnerability.

The emergence of the threat precipitated a sense of fear initially, and later, one of global empathy, a sense of acting as a collective, of being in this together.

The Covid-19 pandemic has come at a time when attempts to deal with another existential catastrophe -- that of anthropogenic or human-induced climate change -- is at a tipping point. These two threats, and the differing responses to them, have prompted numerous reflections on this moment in international history, ranging from matters of personal responsibility to foresighted leadership, from questions of economic overhauls to...

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