REVIEW: Keen, Green and Covid-19 (New Ideas for the New Normal)

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18th October 2020

Review by Heather Craddock.

‘Keen, Green and Covid-19’ is a hopeful look at economic parallels between the Coronavirus crisis and the climate crisis, from Dr Joanna Berry, Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship in Durham University’s Business School. As part of New Ideas for the New Normal, a series looking at how we might live in a post-pandemic world, Dr Berry considers trends that have emerged during the pandemic, ‘green’ options for short term recovery, and potential opportunities for long-term, sustainable growth.

For entrepreneurs, small business owners, students, academics, and anyone generally interested in climate issues, this short, succinct consideration of the climate implications of economic recovery from the pandemic is a useful and inspiring talk. Dr Berry focuses on the opportunities to evaluate existing practices before rebuilding them which the pandemic has provided, from creating new business models and forms of technology, to building on sustainable social changes including remote working, e-commerce and reduced air travel.

This academic perspective on the position of business in responding to crisis offers a balance between overview and detail, as Dr Berry gives an outline of the ways in which COVID-19 has been characterised as ‘a dress rehearsal’ for entrepreneurial approaches to climate change. Despite the increasing media awareness of the destructive role of large corporations and capitalism in causing climate change, supported in part by recent Extinction Rebellion actions and new documentaries by David Attenborough, Dr Berry makes an enthusiastic case for the continued role of economic innovation. In particular, the value of the environmental entrepreneur in overcoming crises through innovation and creativity becomes clear.

A central issue in discussions of climate change response in the UK at present is the political divide which exists on many issues of climate policy. Interestingly, Dr Berry suggests that this fades away ‘when a critical mass of environmental entrepreneurship occurs’, leading to a ‘rapid uptick’ in the adoption of environmentally beneficial practices. As a starting point, Dr Berry refers to the value of recovery funds such as the UK government’s £1.25 billion rescue package for start-ups as a means of transitioning to a sustainable future.

In times characterised by uncertainty and stalled plans, this forward-looking talk is a refreshing addition to Durham Book Festival’s programme.

View the event until November 1st.

This work was produced by participants on our Durham Book Festival Reviewers in Residence programme, a cultural journalism programme run by New Writing North Young Writers. Reviewers in Residence gives aspiring journalists aged 15-23 the chance to review books, attend events and interview authors at the Durham Book Festival. For more information about New Writing North Young Writers visit the New Writing North website.