French Philosopher Bruno Latour asked in a March 26th blog post whether the COVID-19 Corona Virus was a “dress rehearsal for climate change.”
As governments adapt to this virus, we gain insight into states’ capacity for mobilization, the social and political capital risks of select policy, and state-level attempts to capitalize on uncertainty.
In short: COVID-19 presents a unique insight into potential state responses to uncertainty and existential threats. Some trends we are seeing:
- Authoritarian capitalization on uncertainty,
- Marginalization of vulnerable communities,
- Isolationism and tension with international institutions, and
- Tension between public health and economic concerns.
Let’s look around the world
In Viktor Orban’s Hungary, we see:
- The governing party, Fidesz’s “Coronavirus Bill” led the Washington Post to announce Hungary’s the first democracy to die from COVID-19,
- The ‘Coronavirus Bill’ concentrates power within the governing party, without any clear expiration date,
- Leading many international commentators to express concern.
In summary: It should come as no surprise that climate policy will not be pursued without self-interest influencing the shape and nature of the policy.
It is unlikely anyone expected otherwise, nonetheless, policy-makers and the voting public should continue to monitor this situation to ensure the solutions presented for the climate crisis – which is on the ever-more polluted horizon – are the right ones.
April 23, 2020:
China has announced increased administrative controls over “disputed regions” in the South China Sea. Certain commentators have speculated this intends to “solidify and strengthen” while other actors are pre-occupied with COVID, despite “a 2016 ruling … at the Hague stat[ing] that many of China’s claims in the disputed waters have no basis in international law.”