The current coronavirus situation offers us plenty of opportunities to reflect on, and rethink, our behaviour as a society. It is notable that federal and state governments have formed their decisions on slowing down the spread of the corona virus with the help of nationwide social contact bans based on the assessments of recognised virologists. Although the finer details of various assessments differ, the scientific consensus of virologists is clear: i.e. that society must massively reduce social contact to slow the spread of the corona virus. Politicians are taking heed of this view. As a result, many people are staying at home, and rightly so.
If the role of science is so important in this mitigation process, why are researchers and scientists in the field of climate protection not listened to? And why can no agreement be reached on necessary energy policy measures? We are far from taking decisive action in our field. Yet the scientific consensus on the necessity of climate protection measures is at least as strong as that among virologists regarding COVID-19. For years, there has also been broad consensus on the measures required to transform our energy supply: consistent and significant CO2 pricing, a massive expansion of renewable energies, and the use of green electricity for heating, mobility and industrial processes.
Why do our politicians not listen to scientists so consistently when it comes to climate protection? Perhaps because the timeline is measured in decades rather than in weeks, as it is for the virus? That would mean that some people involved are tossing the issue of climate protection to the winds, taking a “who cares what happens after me” approach, or that they believe that short-term profits take priority, or that political action is only relevant during the current legislative period. In the long term, however, the consequences of unchecked climate change are similar to those of the coronavirus: entire generations and regions are at risk, especially the poorest populations in developing and emerging countries.
I hope that the coronavirus will at least cause many people to think about the great scientific consensus on climate protection and about social priorities. Here too, we must finally take bold and decisive action to avoid a climate crisis. The severe global economic crisis that will inevitably be triggered by the coronavirus later in the year could also be overcome with targeted investment programmes for a different and better energy supply system. Let us hope that momentum of last year’s Fridays for Future campaign will carry on through the coronavirus crisis and result in a decisive green deal within the EU, and especially in Germany.
On behalf of the entire Renewable Energy Hamburg team, I hope that it will be possible to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Stay safe and let us hope that society will have a little rethink, particularly about climate protection.