Prominent Swedish progressive Andreas Malm has urged using the full coercive power of the state to curb fossil fuel emissions, modeling the response on global coronavirus lockdowns.
The global response to the coronavirus pandemic, which justified massive incursions into civil liberties in the name of public health, offers a model for how to address climate change, Mr. Malm contends, by taking decision-making out of the hands of individuals and delivering it over to the state.
In an interview published Monday with the leftist magazine Jacobin, Malm, who runs the master’s program in human ecology at Lund University, suggests that the moment may have finally arrived to empower governments to dramatically rearrange the world economy to stop climate change.
“There was a moment in March 2020 when many of us in the climate justice movement felt a degree of surprise to find that governments in Europe and elsewhere were prepared to basically shut down their entire economies in an effort to contain the pandemic,” Malm notes. “This is striking, given that the same states had never contemplated undertaking any kind of intervention in the economy for the sake of the climate crisis.”
The reason for this difference in response, Malm suggests, is that the coronavirus disproportionately struck the rich, whereas the effects of climate change seem to never reach the affluent. Moreover, the lockdowns were a luxury that the rich could afford, whereas the poor and middle class suffered their effects more acutely.