Universities’ response to Covid-19 can inform how they tackle the climate emergency
Only a few months ago, the term ‘emergency’ was being used in relation to the climate. Multiple UK universities had declared a climate emergency, and a Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education Students and Leaders had been formed for what was planned as a year of work on mitigation and adaptation in the run-up to the (now postponed) COP26 climate conference.
Suddenly, everyone is consumed with an emergency that is fundamentally different—one that has brought the threat of imminent and indiscriminate death. The shocking global toll of lives lost has passed 230,000, with the UK figure beyond 25,000. Everyday living has been altered radically. Self-isolation and social distancing have become global behavioural phenomena. Travel has been curtailed and day-to-day social interaction is reliant on technology. University campuses are devoid of students, businesses are in lockdown, supply chains are fragmented and economies are stagnating. The language of war is dominating the media.