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To Immunity And Beyond


We’re well on the way to immunity thanks to the development of Covid-19 vaccines and the huge public uptake of this initiative. To date, tens of millions of people in the UK have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine as part of the biggest inoculation programme this country has ever launched. It’s clearly a race, with the government pinning their hopes of easing national lockdown on rolling out mass vaccinations faster than the spread of new variants of the virus. What lies beyond the light at the end of this tunnel?

There are many parallels between our handling of the current health crisis and tackling the bigger climate crisis. In the race to net-zero, we cannot afford to ignore some of the lessons from our most recent and hard-earned experience.

Most people agree that doing nothing on the climate crisis is not only a bad idea but morally indefensible. At the same time, ‘flattening the curve’ by slowing the rate of increase of greenhouse gas emissions means doing too little too late – which is why there is an increasing clamour for fundamental changes by 2030 and not twenty years later. So, should we turn to the cavalry once more for a major scientific or technical breakthrough that will help everyone make the transition to climate safety?

Unfortunately, waiting for a future breakthrough encourages us to take unacceptable levels of risk now because we believe we will be shielded from the consequences later. What are we waiting for? We already have the necessary technology today to get to carbon zero: what’s needed instead is a change in our collective behaviour.

Unlike the pandemic, where many widespread social changes have happened by disaster rather than design, we can chart a more coherent and equitable path towards net-zero. Cuts to greenhouse gases do not automatically equate to a lower standard of living for a national economy built on fossil fuels and there is plenty of evidence that we can reduce harmful emissions and rejuvenate our local economies at the same time.

The climate crisis has always been a much larger conversation than reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and communities are at the heart of this broader discussion about care, repair and renewal. Participating in collective climate action is a powerful part of building resilience locally. You know you are developing a strong response system when people do not simply switch to a clean energy supplier but join a local community energy co-op; when the most convenient choice is to use public transport or cycle and people have right of way; when local flood defences do not rely on concrete barriers alone but on natural soakaways; when there are enough allotments for everyone to grow food and everyone wants an allotment. The list goes on, is rich in the different ways to create community wealth and unique to where you live.

Many of these ideas should already be captured in your local area’s Climate Action Plan. It’s vital that such a plan be inclusive and area wide, for our collective strength to be applied. Carbon Copy has tried to identify where these area wide plans already exist around the UK, so those without a collective roadmap can replicate what others are doing. Recent experience has made us all too aware of our interdependence and the need for everyone to take action in a crisis – no one is really safe unless everyone is safe.

What lies beyond national programmes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is this place-based, people-led approach to building resilience to the climate crisis and thereby improving the health and safety of our population as a whole.

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