Climate change is rising back to the top of the global agenda. From the US rejoining the Paris Agreement to extreme winter weather in much of Europe and North America, the topic demands our attention.
Researchers at Stockholm University are working on a wide range of challenges related to the climate crisis and creating a more sustainable future.
The Local spoke to three of its experts about their work – and their hopes and concerns for the future. Seeking to build systems that are both sustainable and dynamic, what must policymakers understand about economics and the environment?
“Coronavirus lays bare all the inequalities and all the things we were doing wrong in a merciless and cruel way,” says Anna Tompsett.
“It’s very clear that markets don’t help you achieve environmental goals or address inequality in society. That’s basic economic theory.”
Tompsett is the British course director for Economics of Development and the Environment, a second year Master’s course at Stockholm University. The course explores how the environment has shaped human societies, how human systems have shaped the environment, and how we can improve our understanding of this two-way relationship.
One lecture focuses on infectious diseases. “Epidemiologists were saying that if you stay up at night worrying about something, it should be about a pandemic,” says Tompsett. “Then, it came and suddenly there’s a lot of interest in combining epidemiology and economics, which we’ve been doing all along.”
So what hope for a happier co-existence between economics and the environment from now on? Tompsett says the global focus on continuing the Paris Agreement after the US left and the strong economic case for more wind and solar power are real positives.
“We’ve also seen through the pandemic that we can make radical changes that seemed unthinkable before, so maybe that spirit will carry over into the future,” she adds.