Before COVID-19 arrived on the scene, the world had been slowly awakening from its environmental complacency. Multinationals were voicing commitments to new, more environmentally conscious forms of corporate governance. Youth activists had mobilized a global climate movement of unprecedented scale. The European Commission had unveiled plans for a European Green Deal, following proposals in the US for a Green New Deal to transform the world’s largest economy. Since then, most major economies have suffered deep contractions, forcing central banks and fiscal authorities to pull out all of the stops in responding.
The pandemic has brutally reminded even the rich world that humanity has not conquered nature. By upending markets, work arrangements, supply chains, and public perceptions of risk, it has permanently changed the world in countless ways. To focus on what comes next, Project Syndicate is convening a wide range of experts for a series of in-depth discussions on the path to a green recovery, with an emphasis on biodiversity, energy, public investments, and financial and corporate governance.
The recovery will bring far-reaching opportunities to accelerate the transition to renewable energies, reorient business and finance toward sustainable development, and reconsider our relationship with nature. But it will also open a window for populists, nationalists, and others to exploit public anxieties and pursue zero-sum politics. The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that averting the worst-case climate scenario will depend entirely on the actions taken (or not taken) in the 2020s. The stakes could not be higher. How do we proceed from here?