How Human Nature Can Combat Climate Change
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we will conquer the virus by focusing on a common goal, cooperating, and allowing people the freedom to innovate. We will overcome the threat of global warming the same way.
BRUSSELS – Both the COVID-19 pandemic and global warming are about survival, and are health crises at their core. But typology is not their only common feature. We can also overcome them in a similar way – by working with, rather than against, our human nature.
The alpha and omega of climate policy is reducing greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions: the European Union aims to cut them by 55% by 2030, and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Our first reaction to these ambitious goals frequently is that we ought to eat less meat, fly less often, reuse what we use, and question our assumption that GDP must increase constantly. From this perspective, cutting GHG emissions seemingly entails a reduction of our current living standards.
Likewise, we initially tackled COVID-19 by curtailing social life, closing shops and businesses, and reducing civil liberties. That meant fewer contacts and fewer contracts. But it soon became clear that these measures were no more than a temporary quick fix. In our liberal Western societies, it is – fortunately – impossible to keep people locked up at home.