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Coronavirus: Economic stimulus is climate’s ‘Last Chance Saloon’

"What is it the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] says? You've got to halve your carbon emissions, at least, by 2030. So you've got 10 years," he told Newsroom.

"If you look at the history in New Zealand, and around the world, you generally have an economic crisis about every 10 years. Although nothing, obviously, on the scale of this one. But 10 years ago we had the GFC and the Christchurch earthquake, 10 years before that we had bird flu, the Asian downturn at the end of the '90s, popping the dotcom bubble. We end up on this cycle and then we're out of time. We really are at the Last Chance Saloon."

Around the world, climate activists have come to see the fiscal response to Covid-19 as the climate's last hope. If governments don't gear their stimulus packages towards decarbonising economies and investing in a sustainable future, these activists say, the next opportunity they'll have will be too late.

This dire prognosis has prompted a flurry of activity as organisations like Greenpeace New Zealand cobble together draft stimulus packages to respond to the crisis. Shaw says he is personally agitating for a climate-friendly stimulus package.

Last chance ... and a big risk

"In my lifetime, there hasn't been a moment like this where we've seen governments putting billions of dollars on the table for new infrastructure," Amanda Larsson, Greenpeace New Zealand's climate and energy campaigner, told Newsroom.

"This is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset."

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