After the corona crisis will things be as they were before?
Appeal from German Environmental Award winner Reinhard Schneider for a sustainable transformation instead of retro liberalism in post-corona era:
As justifiable measures were taken to contain the pandemic, many people had to cope with an immediate restriction of their civil liberties. That painful experience led to uncertainty and revealed the weak reaction of our economic system to such a global challenge. Very long supply chains were particularly prone to disruption.
An already proven way to shorten those chains and stop the depletion of natural resources is offered by the circular economy!
Many people are now grappling with the question of whether a rebuilding of the economy can prevent the undesirable developments that led to the chains' susceptibility in the first place. Numerous trade associations, however, are demanding government support that would entail the suspension and reduction of environmental standards. They stay true to the motto: We need an unhindered and unrestricted rebuilding of old structures. In my view that is not neoliberalism but rather retro liberalism.
Interestingly, the latest studies by Europe's largest market research institute GfK/IRI show that the German consumer – or the German consumer right now during the corona crisis – does not want to abandon the issue of sustainability. It appears that consumers at least have realized that sustainability is not an obstacle to our modern consumption but rather the prerequisite for stability and security after the crisis. Unlike lobbyists for large corporations and some politicians, many consumers recognize that an ecologically-oriented lifestyle has the potential to improve resilience to future crises. The GfK/IRI speaks of a paradigm shift away from the growth imperative to a discovery process in which retailers and manufacturers observe people's changing needs and derive future challenges from them in the "new normal". (Source: Robert Kecskes, IM AUGE DES STURMS – Corona-Shutdown in Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, GfK Webinar on 3 April 2020)
Prior to conona, similar thoughts were expressed at the EU level in discussions about the Green Deal. The suspension of the Green Deal now called for by several trade associations would lead to a further polarization of society and intensify a major problem for which there is no vaccination – that is, climate change and the accelerated extinction of species!
Many companies (including Werner & Mertz) have realized that their pursuit of ambitious environmental goals does not weaken the economy but instead helps to promote its stabilization and growth. In the end the question is which of these recovery paths should be given political priority or, to put it more bluntly: retro liberalism or ecological transformation?
We therefore call for:
- • Climate protection, biodiversity and the circular economy must keep their political priority.
- • The existing laws for environmental protection should not be weakened but strengthened instead.
- • Politicians have to set up the fiscal framework for a bold, futuristic energy policy (CO2 pricing).
signed: Reinhard Schneider
German Environmental Award winner and owner of Werner & Mertz
Werner & Mertz GmbH
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