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Apocalypse or Cooperation?

The perfect storm of COVID-19 and climate change, and the resulting economic damage, will most likely trigger much more social and political instability. Although substantially increased international cooperation can still avert this nightmarish scenario, the current state of global politics provides few grounds for optimism.

NEW DELHI – The Apocalypse is now. That is the glaring message of the perfect storm of COVID-19 and climate change that has now broken. The pandemic is unlikely to end for years, as the novel coronavirus mutates into increasingly transmissible, drug-resistant variants. And the climate catastrophe is no longer “impending” but playing out in real time.

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – whose assessments predate the extreme climate events of the past year – tells us that some drastic adverse climatic changes are now irreversible. These will affect every region, as the recent heatwaves, wildfires, and floods demonstrate. They will also severely damage many natural species, and adversely affect the possibilities for and conditions of human life.

Keeping future global warming to a manageable level (even if above the 2015 Paris climate agreement goal of 1.5°C) will require a massive effort, involving sharp economic-policy reversals in every country. Major changes in the global legal and economic architecture will be essential.

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