Published 2020-06-22

This post is also available in Swedish

Effects of COVID-19 crisis on geopolitics and sustainable development

In a webinar entitled Is corona a trend, an accelerator or just a blip? under the aegis of Swesif (Sweden’s forum for sustainable investments) and Mistra within the framework of Mistra Dialogue, geopolitics and environmental policy were discussed in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Björn-Ola Linnér, Professor at Linköping University and Programme Director of Mistra Geopolitics, believes that the crisis will vary in significance around the world. In some places it will be an opportunity for a sustainable transition, while in others it may weaken environmental policy owing to economic recession and other factors.

In a short-term perspective, he believes that we will see a return to earlier emission levels, but in the longer term the crisis may be a reality check.

‘We’re already seeing emissions in China, for instance, rising again. Historically, no major transformation has taken place solely with new technology and innovations; a change of perspective has been the means. On a long-term view, I believe it’s important to show what the world might look like, and that the crisis creates legitimacy for renewable policies and new emission quotas in cities.’

Strengthened or weakened EU?

Linnér and Karl Hallding, Senior Research Fellow at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), also discussed whether, as it emerges from the crisis, the EU is stronger or weaker. Linnér believes that the coronavirus crisis will bolster the EU, mainly because the situation we currently face has demonstrated the importance of being prepared for future crises. The situation has also shown that we can work jointly within the EU to strengthen preparations regarding vaccines, infrastructure and food security. Hallding, too, highlighted previous crises that have shown the EU forming a closer, stronger union — but also sounded a note of caution because it may create an imbalance between economically strong and weak countries.

Attendees at the webinar also emphasised the importance of the European Green Deal being in place as a key driver of a sustainable EU recovery policy.

Watch the whole webinar here.