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Post-Communist Lessons for the Green Transition

Keeping global warming within 1.5°C of pre-industrial temperatures will require a full-scale transformation of the world's economies not unlike those achieved by post-communist European countries in the 1990s. The task is daunting, but we know the key ingredients of success.

BRUSSELS – Three decades after the events that lifted the Iron Curtain and sparked the integration of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe into the global economy, we are on the cusp of a new historic transition. This time, however, it is the entire world that will change.

As we shift to a climate-friendly, truly digital economy, we should heed the lessons of post-communist Europe in the 1990s. One is that norms and behavioral patterns that have been hardwired into society cannot be reversed overnight. Change takes time, which is why it is never too early to begin the process.

A second lesson is that any transition path will be rocky. Like the evolution of political and economic systems after communism, the transition to a “net-zero” society risks disrupting individual lives and deepening social inequalities.

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