Thu, 09 Jul 2020

Opinion: Make post-pandemic recovery greener

Xinhua
05 Jun 2020, 23:18 GMT+10

People sit within physical distancing circles painted on the grass at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, Canada, on June 4, 2020. (Xinhua/Zou Zheng)

-Decision-makers worldwide should ride the momentum of a declining carbon emissions, and kickstart the recoveries in their countries in a greener and more sustainable way.

-Governments around the world should resist the temptation to turn inward and instead enhance global cooperation.

by Xinhua writer Ma Qian

BEIJING, June 5 (Xinhua) -- The coronavirus pandemic is perhaps the world's most arduous present challenge. Yet as the global community marks World Environment Day on Friday, it must not let down guard against other paramount global threats, notably climate change, that are endangering planet Earth, humanity's shared homeland.

Over the past few months, the deadly outbreak has locked down cities, closed factories, grounded airplanes and kept people indoors throughout the world. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions have seen temporary reductions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that the world's CO2 emissions will plunge eight percent this year, an "unprecedented rate."

However, the threat of global warming has hardly dissipated and remains an increasingly daunting challenge. Prior to the pandemic, the socio-economic impacts of climate change have accelerated over the past five years, said the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in April.

A Greek student holds a banner during a school strike for climate change in Athens, Greece, on Sept. 20, 2019. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

And with governments on both sides of the Atlantic, in Asia and elsewhere carrying out plans to restart their economies with stimulus packages of rarely seen proportions, a possible massive rebound of emissions is highly likely. The IEA has recently cautioned that the rebounds in emissions would be even larger than the decline after the public health crisis.

Any panglossian ideas at this moment would be ill-timed. There are already some environmental advocates and business leaders who worry that the raging contagion would "overshadow environmental concerns" and postpone policy discussions on climate issues as "a more distant threat."

Decision-makers worldwide should ride the momentum of a declining carbon emissions, and kickstart the recoveries in their countries in a greener and more sustainable way, like offering stronger financial support for environmentally-friendly industries, and encouraging a broader use of clean and renewable energies. The IEA has called for investment to revive the economy with "cleaner and more resilient energy infrastructure."

Spray equipment are seen at a field at Gechougou Village, Shenmu County of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, May 29, 2020. (Xinhua/Tao Ming)

Governments around the world should resist the temptation to turn inward and instead enhance global cooperation. They should stick to the long-term goals of emission reductions agreed upon in the Paris Climate Accord.

The ongoing fight against the pandemic has highlighted the need for strong international cooperation in a highly interconnected world when a global crisis strikes.

"We need to show the same determination and unity against climate change as against COVID-19," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "We need to act together in the interests of the health and welfare of humanity not just for the coming weeks and months, but for many generations ahead." ■

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