Blog: Climate crisis and Covid crisis - symptoms of the same faults!

About this blog

9 April 2020

A summary of some statements in the Austrian press, by scientists and NGOs

Currently, we see statements by NGOs, politicians, and journalists in two directions:

One side is concerned about measures that might lead to restrictions of personal freedom beyond the real necessities, or a backing of conservative societal tendencies (gender roles, heavier impacts on the poor and those with migration background) or concern about economic damage especially for small businesses, and the like.

On the other side, we see also a wide range of statements that emphasise the the increased chances for the transformation of our societies towards decarbonisation and sustainability in general, but also the necessity of integrating the state interventions to mitigate the economic impacts of the crises with this transformation. I'll briefly summarise below what has come to my attention.

Well-known critical economist Stephan Schulmeister said "This crisis is the end of neoliberalism". And (my translation) "We need to use the crisis in order to get on a path towards an ecological and social cyclic economy, which says farewell to the paradigm of growth." He also emphasis a re-evaluation of different kinds of occupation (care for the elderly, in health and social services, work in supermarkets, etc). He also notes that crisis means a crisis of the dominant economic paradigms, that politicians turn away from "more private, less public". This should be combined with the Green Deal of the EC. Source:

The head of the catholic church in Austria, Cardinal Schönborn, says "The face of the Earth will change". He is hoping for a change in economic issues as well as personal life style, and pleaded for a new relationship between internationality and regionalism. He also said that we need to value more those whose services society needs in these times. Source:

Genossenschaft für Gemeinwohl (Cooperative for Common Good), an initiative for changes in the financial system towards sustainability, social justice and the common good, co-founded by the well-known common-good economist Christian Felber, observes that the second-most important focus of the current crisis is the situation of economy and financial system, after health. As the 2008 financial crisis did not lead to real change, they hope that this crisis will offer the chance to put the common good into the focus of our economic and financial system. Industrial production, consumption, global delivery chains and just-in-time production are now questioned. And growth is now suddenly interrupted, something unthinkable just a few weeks ago. The breakdown of stock markets shows the vulnerability of pension systems based on private investment. It is obvious that the market cannot solve all the problems currently showing up, and that the state has to step in. This could be a great chance to stop the trend towards privatisation. Also, we now see the fragility of our economic and financial system, and that entails the chance for designing our world such that environment and climate are respected, rather then maximisation of profits being the supreme goal. This transformation should go along with democratic participati0n. They demand a ban on stock-market short sales and derivatives as already decreed in some countries. They also applaud the ECB for its limitation of dividends and bonuses. Source: GfG Newsletter,,

An interesting facet is that since January this year, Austria has a conservative-green coalition government, the first time that the Greens are part of the federal government. The government programme includes a strong plan for transforming society to make it compatible with the Paris Agreement. In a recent interview, Green Vice-Chancellor Kogler said: With respect to lessons to be learned about the economic system, there is a lot which agrees with Green principles. This kind of international division of labour, turbo-globalisation with ever decreasing regulation, uncontrolled investment site competition, has to be put into questions much stronger. For example, pharmaceutical production outsourced to China has to be strengthened again in Europe, and now there are more European Governments who want that. We also need the principle of truth in costs. Decent labour conditions and environmental standards have their price, but if we pay it, we'll get many other improvements as well. We should introduce environmental and climate border taxes, not because of nationalism like Trump, but to create truth in costs. Maybe this crisis will help us to reach to results faster. Source:

A regional green deputy in Tyrol (the region of Austria most impacted by Covid and in the focus of international press for the spread of the virus in the main ski tourism centres, speaker for tourist issues, Georg Kaltschmid, said: We will have to re-invent tourism in Tyrol. The current crisis could be the chance to overcome blockages by the cable-car lobby and big hotel owners. A new pioneer spirit is needed, for year-round tourism, connected with nature, and protecting the climate. Source:

Attac Austria also says that economy and society after the crisis will be different, and calls for a transformation and preventing a re-strengthening of neoliberalism. They announced more detailed proposals for the coming weeks, but so far they seem to comment mainly on issues such as the halt for dividends and the eurobonds.

As for the latter, it is interesting to note that an open letter by German economists to the German government to give up its opposition towards eurobonds or as they call them, European Renaissance Bonds, for financing the crisis in EU countries including IT, FR, ES, GR has received quickly more than 1000 signatures of economists. Source:,!5673559/

A special point of interest is also the blog of Matthias Horx, a German living in Vienna and calls himself a "futurologist". He has put out early an optimistic vision of a transformed society, as early as this autumn, with the pandemic already stopped. Austrian newspaper "Kurier" said that their reprint of the text received more clicks than any other story ever. While he says, similar to what we think that the crisis marks a kind of bifurcation and brings great chances, the rest of his story is nothing but a possible scenario, presented in attractive words. Other media, for example a commentary by a sociologist in the left-wing magazine FALTER, critisise him for lacking any scientific foundation and simply feeding the wish of many for a good outcome, while arguing that the current situation should lead to self-empowerment of social groups that have been weak but now are recognised as key staff, for example in the supermarkets.

Feminist economist Gabriele Michalitsch said in an interview in the state-owned newspaper "Wiener Zeitung" that climate change is the bigger problem than this pandemic, and that they are linked as both can be traced to our economic system which destroys nature and shrinks the space of animals, the real cause of the pandemic, and that is why there will probably be more to come. Current measures support existing structures, but now there would be the chance to change directions and support more what is ecologically sustainable. Source:

Finally, some more international news that fit in, not systematic, just what came across my computer.

A very interesting issue is passenger air traffic. Major airlines will ask for massive public money. The degree of grounding is really remarkable. The Swiss newspaper NZZ writes that the Lufthansa group currently has about as many flights per week as in 1955! 700 of their 763 planes are grounded.

There is a famous Italian virologist, Ilaria Capua, who works in the US, and is now frequently in the Italian and other media. NZZ has an interesting interview with her ( Towards the end, it is mentioned she wrote a book in Italian language, "Salute circolare" (Circular Health), arguing the connection between everything and in favour of regaining a balance with Nature and the animal world, with a bonmot at the end: The flap of a bat's wing can cause a tsunami all over the world.

Last not least, through my involvement with the disarmament community, I received a letter from High Representative Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. Mainly, she explains how the UN disarmament agenda is kept going under current restrictions and the plans for the near future. Remarkable is her closing statement:

The COVID-19 pandemic will test us all, and like World War II, it will transform our world in ways that are unforeseeable. But let's remember, unlike the trials of that horrific world war, we all face this crisis together. This pandemic has the potential to unite societies, institutions and individuals, just as the hard lessons of the Second World War laid the foundation for deeper international cooperation and stronger institutions to support our common security. The Office for Disarmament Affairs will remain a steady partner in our collective effort to prevent this global health emergency from breeding conflict. And I sincerely hope that in our solidarity through this crisis, we will realize we can transcend our entrenched divisions to pursue our highest collective aspirations. These include ensuring healthy lives, promoting the well-being of every citizen across the planet, and striving to build a peaceful and secure world for all. Let us put humanity at the centre of our security.


| Imprint | Contact author of this page | Last change: 31 Mar 2020 by Petra Seibert