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Will Coronavirus Fuel or Derail Climate Agenda?

Fear and angst are contagious. With the coronavirus still spreading and the U.S. and global economies in danger of freefall, people may become more receptive to gloom and doom messages in general.

Unsurprisingly, many climate campaigners and advocacy journalists are now claiming the pandemic shows what happens when politicians “don’t listen to the scientists” and dismiss “existential threat” assessments as “alarmist.” They argue the public “should not allow today’s crisis to compromise our efforts to tackle the world’s inescapable challenge.”​ 

That rhetoric may influence some people. Nonetheless, the coronavirus pandemic and associated economic devastation are likely to “shift global attention and resources away from addressing climate change, putting the issue on the backburner.” That’s the Eurasia Group’s assessment in its special March Update to its Top Risks 2020 report (h/t Amy Harder, Axios Generate).

In a nutshell, companies are going to prioritize “recovery and growth above all else,” governments will devote most of their fiscal resources to the medical emergency, rescuing businesses, and safety-netting the unemployed, “collapsing oil prices will undercut the competitiveness” of green energy sources, and social distancing will blunt “large-scale [climate] protest activity.”