The COVID-19 pandemic has forced several countries into lockdown mode, striking fear into citizens’ hearts, and provoked a global financial-market meltdown. To prevent another pandemic, the response to the coronavirus must be immediate and forceful, however, governments must also look to long term green solutions. 

COVID-19 serves as a warning of a future trend, where more crises will occur, demanding immediate responses if we are to maintain the same economic model we use today. In the future, governments, financial institutions, and corporations may not be able to adapt to future shocks. So, how will we adjust our economy to adapt? Is COVID-19 an opportunity to change the way our economy functions?

Similar to COVID-19, climate change, biodiversity loss, and financial collapses do not observe national or even physical borders. This pandemic serves as a wake-up call to stop exceeding the planet’s limits due to the fact deforestation, biodiversity loss, and climate change all increase the likelihood of future pandemics. Global warming will likely accelerate the emergence of new viruses and deforestation causes wild animals to be driven closer to city centers which increases the chances that zoonotic viruses will make a cross-species leap. To prevent another crisis, governments must take action to lay a foundation for a new green, circular economy targeted towards the public good. Below are just some ideas in which governments can utilize towards a greener economy and future:

1)    Shift from industrial to regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that reverse climate change by rebuilding organic matter within the soil and increase biodiversity. Regenerative agriculture is featured in many new economic models globally and is being explored further by cities, governments and investors as a green way of investing in the future. This will not only help create biological changes but also aid countries in creating a sustainable supply chain for food in the future. There is an estimated $5.2 trillion spent on fossil-fuel subsidies each year, making the switch towards green infrastructure will improve the lives of citizens globally for many years to come.

2)    Invest in green infrastructure

Many countries desperately need to upgrade their infrastructure such as electrical, buildings and public transport. With the recession following COVID-19, many individuals will be unemployed. By switching to green infrastructure, every $1 million invested in energy efficiency creates at least eight full-time jobs, whereas $1 million invested in fossil fuels creates about three. Investing in energy transmission in an environmentally friendly way wouldn’t just create jobs—simulations have found that $1 billion invested in energy transmission creates 13,000 full-time-equivalent years of employment in America alone. 

If we do not adapt, we are at risk of another global catastrophe, whether that be a pandemic or a global climate crisis. Our economy should use COVID-19 as an opportunity to change the way we supply and manufacture goods, as well as the way daily economic decisions are made in order to prevent future harm to the public.

Madeleine Griffith

Author Madeleine Griffith

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