Responding to Coronavirus and Climate Change: A Letter to the Quincy Sun

June 24, 2020

Environmental lawyer and Boston College Law School professor Zygmunt Plater recently remarked that government and individual responses to the coronavirus pandemic show that actions “that may have seemed radical in the very recent past now seem necessary for societal survivability.” In that way, Plater said, the pandemic and our responses to it should give us a new way to look at the actions we need to take against climate change.

Quincy Climate Action Network agrees with Plater that both crises require novel and multipronged responses, and yet the actions required to fight climate change, while numerous and varied, aren’t nearly as radical as what societies have done in the last few months. Compared to closing down economies or staying shut up in our houses, climate solutions are generally painless. Indeed, many will improve our quality of life, by cleaning up the air we breathe, lowering out utility bills, saving us money at the gas pump, increasing the comfort of our workplaces and homes, and fueling the growth of well-paying jobs in green energy.

Even as we struggle with the pandemic, QCAN continues urging governments to adopt climate-friendly policies. On the federal level, this could mean things like rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and unfreezing the stalled approval process for offshore wind developments such as Vineyard Wind. On the state level, it might include a rapid conversion of the MBTA bus fleet to battery electric buses. Locally, it could include acquiring the more-efficient hybrid cruisers for use by the Quincy Police Department and amending the city’s plastic bag ban to encourage adoption of reusable bags.

We also urge our neighbors to take steps to reduce the energy footprint of their businesses and living spaces. You can start by scheduling a free energy assessment for your house or apartment. No-touch online assessments are available during the pandemic, and incredibly, they come with an offer of up to $15,000 of free insulation if you set up your assessment by July 31. (Call 1-866-527-7283 to set up an assessment or for more information.) Even small steps like line-drying clothes or observing meatless Mondays can help us save the planet while saving money. Solutions like these will also help right the wrongs done to people of color and poor people, who suffer disproportionately from pollution and stand to suffer the most from climate change.

While we’re only just learning how to extinguish the coronavirus, we have known how to fight climate change for years. It isn’t that hard, and in Plater’s words, it’s “necessary to societal survivability,” so why not just commit to doing it?

David Reich, Board Chair
Quincy Climate Action Network