24 April, 2020
The Wednesday just gone was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. But despite the clear roads, clear air and clear waters, it was far from a happy one.
We all know that the Covid-19 crisis has caused a significant and enticing drop in carbon emissions – early in the lockdown period people were calling it a ‘silver lining’. But as the social and economic impacts of coronavirus become clear, that silver lining is looking more like a mirage.
We have been given a vision of a clean and green future, but accompanied by job losses, social isolation and poverty, it looks far from sustainable. At Good Business we have always believed that the world does not need to choose between positive change and economic prosperity; they can coexist. The danger with the current situation is that it illustrates the opposite: that the only way to improve our planetary health is through measures under which society, and humanity, simply cannot prosper.
We have to find and demonstrate a new paradigm in which emissions are decoupled from economic output – no mean feat in a moment where the primary focus post-Covid will be on job creation and quick growth. This decoupling will require significant technological innovation and rebuilding of infrastructure, but also a shift in social and political attitudes. In this though, the tide seems to be turning: even the most established authorities like the Financial Times and McKinsey are putting significant thought into what a new type of economy would look like. So, while there are huge challenges ahead, there is also opportunity: we can use this moment to ‘build back better’.