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How to Recover Green

Now that governments have intervened in the market on an unprecedented scale, citizens have every right to demand that newly dependent sectors align themselves with long-term climate-policy goals. Policymakers already have the tools to make this happen, and doing so would accelerate economic recovery.

NEW YORK – For a while in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were high hopes for a V-shaped recovery. After a brief but sweeping lockdown to stanch the spread of the virus, the economy would easily reopen, and with enough care and money, everything would go back to the way it was at the start of the year.

That was clearly a fantasy. Months after the initial lockdown period, the United States and many other countries were still reaching new highs in terms of both infections and COVID-19 deaths. And the pandemic had exposed – and probably exacerbated – deep problems plaguing the economy well before the crisis began. For example, the US economy generated massive inequalities not only in income and wealth but also in health outcomes and access to care. And because these disparities closely track those of race in America, already marginalized populations were left even more vulnerable to the virus.

Governments, meanwhile, have intervened on an unprecedented scale. With such massive levels of public spending, citizens have every right to demand that the post-crisis economy be shaped in accordance with their own interests, not those of “markets” or whatever short-sighted capitalists demand.