Use Covid opportunity - Adopt UBI, declare Climate Emergency, ban GDP! Climate Action Now!

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Dear Leaders of the World,

We have no idea of how or when a cure for COVID will be found. We have no idea when the lockdown would end. Even if a vaccine or cure is found, the risk for people interacting in public will remain. And that means, people cannot revert back to work or other activities, or their normal lives, any time soon!

The continuation of the lockdown has acute foreseeable consequences. The most important is on Employment and Livelihoods of the masses! Most businesses are suffering, and may either shut down or layoff huge numbers of staff. The economic slowdown will put many businesses out of the market. Employment will nosedive.. It is a no brainer that we are set to see large scale unemployment and widespread poverty. This could lead to starvation and social unrest. In the new normal, what could be the ideal short term and long term strategy to resolve this?

Before we jump into that, be aware, the Covid crisis is nothing, compared to the impending Climate Change Crisis. Compared to what is coming, this might look like a walk in the park. So, this might just be a God sent opportunity to act on both.

For climate change action, it is inevitable that we shrink the economy, ie., cause a DE-GROWTH! As the lockdown has demonstrated, repairing nature can easily, and only be achieved by de-growth, which was realised providentially during lockdown, and our air, water, and nature in general have revived. We must target to keeping it this way, so that we can all live in healthy surroundings. And this process of reversal and revival can be the norm, instead of the 'destruction' we had normalised.

In normal circumstances, de-growth would have been unthinkable. But, the COVID lockdown has delivered this, as a divine GIFT. What govts around the world need to do now is follow further down that path, and maximise gains for Climate Change action. We could look at a radical solution to achieve the welfare of our masses, as well as remove pressure from our industry and economy to meet employment demands, and achieve reasonable de-growth.

Here is a simple 3 step action plan to do it:

1) Launch the 'UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME' (UBI) program for everyone, which is a concept that is being debated and experimented with in many parts of the world (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income_around_the_world This is an ideal situation to test it out. This will ensure people are not under pressure to find employment, to meet basic needs. The UBI may be in the form of cash / cash & kind. This will prevent a meltdown of society, and maintain social order. This will also provide an organic stimulus to the economy, dictated by actual consumer spending.

2) As this UBI will reduce the pressure on Industrial performance, the govt could then decouple our economic policy from the faulty indicator of progress, ie., the measure of GDP, and move in the direction of countries such as New Zealand and Bhutan, towards adopting 'wellness' as the indicator of progress, instead. 

3) Declare a Climate Emergency. Pursue a resilient and sustainable development model, where only essential or technological goods such as defence, or IT are retained for industrial production, and all other products are produced by hand-made and sustainable community model of production. De-urbanise, Localise, Re-green and REVIVE  the Planet! 

Implement Gandhi's 100 year old dream of Hind Swaraj.  (https://www.mkgandhi.org/ebks/hind_swaraj.pdf

This is your chance to take Climate Action, while creating new imaginative frameworks, that will create a new paradigm, and also solve the problem of masses. This will inspire all nations to follow suit. Nature has kickstarted a repair process of our planet. Let us obediently follow in her footsteps!

This might be your only opportunity to take leadership action, and save the planet for the future generations.  As leaders of the world, this is your one opportunity to ensure that when future generations look back, they don't say that you were found wanting, when faced with extinction of life on the planet! 

With hope and determination,                                                                                 

Sandeep Anirudhan                                                      

(Pic credit:  Economist.com)