7 lessons from WWII to help fight climate emergency


Author Seth Klein in his new book lists 7 lessons Canada should treasure in order to tackle climate emergency

In his new book A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, author Seth Klein offers 7 lessons. These lessons, he believes, can help Canada address and tackle one of the greatest challenges of our times: climate change. Klein explains in his article that Canada’s contemporary approach to climate change is simply not working. Greenhouse gas emissions have not diminished. But the author remains hopeful that all we need is a plan. Unprecedented mobilisation, as it happened during World War II, can help the country transition off fossil fuels.

‘We mobilised in common cause across society to confront an existential threat’, says Klein. This also caused the economy to shift in just a few years. Klein believes we can do it again, if we follow these seven key lessons.

Seven lessons to fight climate change in Canada

  1. Adopt an emergency mindset: if we approach the issue by naming it an emergency, this will create a shared purpose. With a new unity across the country, new political decisions that previously seemed impossibility take momentum. Economic ideas such as sustainability and renewable energy can become a reality.
  2. Rally the public at every turn: during emergency, leadership can quickly mobilise the public. If governments don’t treat climate change like an emergency, they are failing to send this message to the public.
  3. Inequality is toxic to mobilisation: any successful mobilisation mobilises people across class, race and gender. The public, sharing a common cause, can then embrace the mindset of making sacrifices. In order to do this, however, we must tackle inequality through economic and political reform. And this means that we must limit excess profit and lessen inequality among the entire social spectrum.
  4. Create institutions: during WWII, in order to meet supply demand, the government established corporations. Economic transition was thus steered through such newly established institutions. The private sector did play a role, and a very important one, but the task of resource allocation was not prerogative of the market.
  5. Spend what it takes: an emergency is a life or death situation. Any consideration regarding austerity falls apart in such times. The government can liberate the economy from the restraints and shackles of austerity. Spending for the right tools to fight climate change without consideration for public expenditure is the only way forward.
  6. Indigenous leadership: Indigenous people played a key role in the WWII. Under First Nations’ leadership, there have been numerous steps toward renewable emergency and blocking potentially harmful fossil fuel projects.
  7. Leave no one behind: during WWII, over one million Canadians enlisted in military service. Even more enlisted in munitions production. After the war, the government reintegrated them into peacetime economy. This can be a model to transition mobilisation into long-term economic and social integration.