‘Don’t forget the climate crisis,’ says Greta

Rough going: Greta Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic in an emission-free journey to the USA. © TedX

Have we forgotten the climate crisis? During the lockdown, many say we have a chance to alter the way we live for the good of the planet. But others fear we are wasting the opportunity.

What’s happening

The pandemic has affected millions of people and brought entire countries to a grinding halt. Despite the tragic impacts of the current crisis, activists like Greta Thunberg are urging us not to forget the deeper environmental emergency. She has called on governments to “tackle two crises at once”.

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After weeks of lockdown, forced lifestyle changes mean there are glimmers of hope for our planet: air pollution is down in China and canals in Venice are running clear. Many see this as an opportunity to make a lasting change.

For others, though, tackling the current crisis is more pressing. Environmental laws are on hold, governments are helping oil companies, and the Czech prime minister says the EU should suspend the Green Deal. Activists also fear we might forget any progress made when lockdown ends.

But the head of the UN warns that global warming will threaten even more lives if we do not change. He has urged governments to see the pandemic as a wake-up call to “do things right for the future”.

Have we forgotten the climate emergency?

Some say…

It looks like it. The current crisis is so great that the environmental problem has been eclipsed. Governments are being lenient with companies breaking environmental laws and the focus is on saving lives, not the planet. When lockdowns end, emphasis will be on going back to ‘normal’: flights and commuting will resume because it is easier.

Others think…

No. Lockdown has shown us how changing our lives can help the planet. People see the crises as connected, with Greta Thunberg donating money to fight both problems. Governments are meeting to find greener ways to move forward after the pandemic, and lockdowns have prompted a real change. For example, Milan is banning cars from 35km of its streets.

You Decide

  1. Is it too late to fix the climate crisis?

Activities

  1. Create a poster showing all the ways individuals can fight climate crisis, and share it on social media.

Some People Say...

“Climate disruption is approaching the point of no return.”

Antonio Guterres, current UN secretary general

What do you think?

Word Watch

Pandemic
A disease that occurs worldwide at the same time.
Grinding halt
Stopping very suddenly, especially before it was meant to.
Crises
Plural of crisis (a time of intense difficulty or danger).
Environmental laws
Certain rules to combat climate crisis. These have been lifted for businesses that are struggling to continue working during the pandemic.
Green Deal
A set of laws proposed in the US to address climate emergency and the economy.
UN
United Nations, an organisation that aims to maintain international peace, security, and cooperation.
Eclipsed
Overshadowed. This also describes the process when a planet or star moves in front of another, blocking out its light.
Lenient
More forgiving than expected.
Resume
Carry on.
Donating money
Greta Thunberg donated $100,000 (£81,000) to a children’s charity. She called the coronavirus a “child rights crisis just like climate change”.

Subjects

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