Which world do we want after COVID-19?

Here are excerpts from a statement published in Еuractiv.com. The authors are Bertrand Piccard (founder and chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation) and Frans Timmermans (executive vice-president of the European Commission).

The coronavirus crisis has caused a lot of suffering and uncertainty, but its aftermath offers us an opportunity to build a circular, sustainable and highly competitive economy

В какъв свят искаме да живеем след COVID-19?
Frans Timmermans, credits: Euractiv.com

For many, this is a terrible time. Right now, our focus should be on fighting the virus while ensuring that we keep our economy and financial system afloat. We will need to reboot our economy as quickly as possible, getting production lines up and running, with people back to work and earning incomes again.

That leaves us with a choice: desperately fight to get back to what we had previously or try to reach a much better situation.

What did we have before COVID-19?

A sluggish, linear and carbon-spewing economy struggling to increase employment rates and quality of life, while depleting natural resources, producing dangerous waste and toxic pollutants, putting the population and industry at risk, before even mentioning climate change.

Is this really what we want to recover?

There exists another way: aiming for qualitative growth, with a circular, sustainable and highly competitive economy. How do we get there? By replacing old and polluting infrastructure with a modern, clean and efficient one, across all sectors – water, energy, construction, mobility, agriculture and industrial processes to name but a few.

This would create many more jobs and grow our GDP much more than the old way.

This is why it is a false contradiction to say that the Green Deal is a luxury we cannot afford. The floods, droughts, wildfires, sea rise, and desertification are going to hit us hard. Moreover, retreating nature and melting permafrost will confront us with more unknown viruses.

The Green Deal is a growth strategy which happens to also protect the environment. Renewable energies and clean technologies are a massive economic and industrial opportunity. Investing in this new infrastructure is not a cost, it is an investment, a way to increase profit for industry and reduce spending for individuals.

Delaying stronger car emission standards won’t help the car industry when cities are banning combustible engines and customers are moving towards electric cars. Nor will keeping coal-fired power stations running help the energy industry while renewable energy prices continue to fall.

We should invest in the new economy to come out of the crisis in better shape than we went into it, fit for the future: sustainable, inclusive, competitive and prepared.

This could be our best shot at doing so.

Read the full statment here.