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Saved by the Pandemic?

The COVID-19 crisis has brought climate and economic imperatives into closer alignment than ever before. If the world seizes this historic opportunity, then future generations will surely remember 2020 as the year in which humanity both defeated a pandemic and saved the planet.

HAY-ON-WYE – COVID-19 has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide, made millions more ill, and continues to wreak havoc. But as the saying goes – and without wishing to downplay this human tragedy in any way – it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good. If we make the right choices as lockdowns ease, then the pandemic might just have thrown humanity a lifeline in dealing with the much greater challenge of climate change.

Before the coronavirus struck, activists like me had all but given up hope that the world would meet the Paris climate agreement’s target of limiting global warming to 1.5-2°C above pre-industrial levels. Instead, it looked like the world would heat up by 3-4°C.

That would be a planetary catastrophe. We would lose all of the world’s coral reefs and the majority of its rainforests, while many of the most densely populated regions would become intolerably hot. Food production would plummet, threatening famine and starvation as harvests failed in the world’s major breadbaskets.

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