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Transferring the lessons from the response to COVID-19 to the climate crisis

Covid-19 is re-setting our global understanding of how we need to behave and respond to a global crisis, giving a new sense of humanity and what is important for our lives – physically, emotionally, spiritually and economically.

It is demonstrating in real-time what equality and equity looks like for complete populations, and what happens when vulnerable people in society are set aside for too long. We are living through a global lesson of how we can work together on a whole of society approach.

We must transfer these lessons in a collective response to climate change so that humanity can survive and prosper.

Climate crisis is an immediate threat. The impact of rising temperatures threatens human rights, peace and justice. Climate change and extreme weather events, environmental degradation, and water stress lead to hunger, famine, loss of livelihoods, displacement, and irregular migration. Unless climate change is addressed, millions of people will be denied food, water, housing, health, work and life.

Extreme weather events cause resource scarcity and make land inhabitable, intensifying inequality and conflict. Climate change has a disproportionate impact in conflict-affected and developing countries that depend on agriculture for their prosperity. Climate action is the most pressing peace work of our time.

As we are witnessing, and living through with COVID-19, equality for all needs to be at the centre of our global response to climate change. The virus is reframing our world perspective and it is up to all of us to learn from this experience, support each other through it, and transfer these lessons into our response to climate change. If we collaborate, we can achieve real outcomes on climate change.

When we get through this period, we will know that the changes needed to address climate change are possible – humanity can adapt through innovation and consolidation of our attitudes and behaviors.

Susan Biggs is Executive Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation