Last May, in a speech to the European Parliament, Ursula von der Leyen presented an outline of the recovery package needed to rebuild the European economies post-Covid.
In that speech, she correctly emphasised that an opportunity had presented itself to build a ‘modern, clean and healthy’ economy. She highlighted that the recovery plan was an investment for future generations.
Yet, it seems that pressure was brought to bear during negotiations which has significantly reduced subsidies to help economies move towards carbon neutrality.
Greta Thunberg and other activists have been quick in their condemnation of this cut and the return to the short-termism which has prevented the radical changes needed to fight climate change.
]They highlight the irony of how a continent was effectively brought to a standstill for the Covid-19 emergency, but the existential threat of climate change and the biodiversity collapse is still seen as some relatively long-term issue which we can come back to.
What seemed to be missing in the debate is the joined-up thinking which recognises that the Covid-19 crisis is ultimately one manifestation of humanities destructive relationship with nature.
The struggle to change the global economy to a sustainable one is as much about human health as it is about clean air and flourishing ecosystems. Yet another opportunity lost.
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