Climate Activism During COVID-19

In the last year, it’s been hard to think about anything other than COVID-19. Between worrying about the safety of loved ones and the state of the world, additional brain capacity has been hard to come by.

I know I have certainly felt that way. 

Until COVID-19, I was incredibly involved in the climate activism community. But then everything changed. Part of it was that the very nature of climate activism changed. Things like the Fridays for Future strikes went online, lobbying meetings became virtual, and conversations about plastics took a 180-degree turn as the world guzzled PPE for protection. 

But beyond that, it really comes down to mental health, something that has affected everyone. Between balancing work, health concerns, family members, grief, sickness, global uncertainty, furlough and imminent danger, worrying about something that feels as far removed as the climate crisis just had to take a back seat. 

It’s hard to discuss lifestyle changes, when our entire world is upside down. It’s hard to discuss long-term climate policy, when there are imminent concerns about mass unemployment. It’s hard to keep pushing for change, when you feel drained. 

If you have been feeling that way, we understand. 

For the team at Climate Four, that meant taking a break to take care of ourselves and adjust to a new normal. But we are still here, more committed than ever to our mission, and ready to restart important conversations about climate action. 

Reflecting on the last year, there are a few lessons from this pandemic that can be applied to the climate crisis conversation.

Adaptation is Quick

When we think about the change that we need to implement to achieve our climate goals, it’s frightening. We need to rethink society. Up until now, the task seemed impossible.

But consider how much changed in such a short time frame because of COVID-19. The majority of the population is working from home, the way we travel has transformed, the way we consume goods and services has changed, wearing a mask has been normalised, we now “elbow bump” instead of hug, work travel is non-existent…the list goes on.

While the pace of change has not been pleasant, it has shown us that we can adapt when we need to, and quickly. That is a massive win for the climate movement. The question now is, can we plan for the changes to come and adapt in a more structured manner? 

Individual Choices Matter

The eternal debate in the environmental movement is whether individual choices matter. We always end up in philosophical debates that “my actions don’t make a difference” and a tragedy of the commons situation.

What we saw play out with COVID was mirrored what we see in the climate crisis. Every person’s decision to follow the rules – for example wearing a mask and washing their hands – made a difference. 

The same stands true for climate action. The collective action of working towards a common goal has a massive snowball effect and we now know that is true. It is certainly more difficult with the climate crisis because we don’t see the number of deaths going up day by day as a result of the lack of climate actions, but we now have proof that individual choices make or break a crisis response effort.

Government Frameworks Are Essential

For the first time in a long time, we turned to the government to sort this mess out, whether it was through the imposition of regulations or through support schemes and monetary support to stop entire industries from collapsing.

Climate action falls in a similar category. While the market and the public can drive a lot of change, the government also needs to respond and implement frameworks to drive change.

Looking ahead, governments will play a key role in marrying the COVID-19 recovery to a sustainable future because they need to go hand in hand. We can’t solve the current crisis without laying the foundations to address the upcoming one.

Where do we go from here?

Our team will continue to bring you the latest climate science and sustainability data in a digestible format, as well as clear guidance on what actions you can take yourself and in your community to make a positive impact.

The next year will prove to be critical for the climate arena as COP26 (already a year delayed) will show revised government targets and whether the post-COVID recovery will actually be green. 

So get ready for a rollercoaster. We are here to support you in your journey to make change. Now more than ever, we are in this together.

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Published by elenipolychroniadou

Cynical idealist. Passionate about catalysing global change.

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