Climate Action isn’t in Quarantine

June 1, 2020  • Institute Staff

In April,’s Bill McKibben, 14-year-old climate activist Alexandria Villaseñor, and the American Conservation
Coalition’s Benji Backer participated in an Institute Energy and Environment Program discussion about the climate movement’s momentum—even as it has moved online in the wake of the coronavirus. Each speaker hails from a different corner of the political world yet offered similar perspectives on climate action during the pandemic. The panelists urged fellow leaders to find comfort in virtual engagement and activism. There is significant opportunity for the climate movement to unify and develop within this new normal. McKibben pointed out that the realities of science are more incontrovertible than ever. The volume at which politicians shout won’t affect the course of the virus’s spread, and the same remains true for climate change. In fact, the parallels to climate change are unnervingly similar: the world might have looked very different today had action been taken 30 years ago to mitigate climate change, just as the United States might look very different today if it had initiated an earlier response to Covid-19 as South Korea did. All agreed that online organizing and “digital commotion” can be a very effective means of growing the movement.