The pandemic has reminded us of the limits of our power over nature, and of the potentially lethal collective effects of misguided individual actions. Emissions fell rapidly in lockdown and fauna returned to places it had been forced to abandon. The economic shock of suspending most manufacturing and transport across the globe is also giving us a sense of what a ‘disorderly transition’ to net zero would entail. This will naturally prompt calls for more aggressive action in the climate crisis, with environmentalists hoping a new green economy will emerge. Yet governments will also be under great political pressure to rebuild economies and incomes, and a ‘dash for growth’ after the crisis could mean that climate change is ignored or relegated to the second tier of priorities, while businesses, investors and consumers may be reluctant to take on the costs of transition. How can we resolve these tensions?