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THE world must not forget the “deeper environmental emergency” facing the planet, United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said yesterday as the world marked Earth Day.
While the Covid-19 pandemic is “immediate and dreadful,” it has also been a wake-up call “to do things right for the future,”Mr Guterres said.
The “unfolding environmental crisis” is an “even deeper emergency,” he warned, pointing out that biodiversity is in steep decline and climate disruption “approaching a point of no return.”
Many people have remarked that the coronavirus crisis has led to a fall in pollution due to lockdowns reducing road traffic and other activity that damages the environment.
But Andrew Norton, director of the British-based International Institute for Environment and Development, stressed that while there would be a temporary dip in global greenhouse emissions, this must not distract from the fundamental changes needed for the world to achieve net zero-carbon emissions by 2050.
“Land use change and deforestation are primary global drivers of biodiversity destruction. They heighten the risk of further pandemics by bringing humans into contact with new threats such as the coronavirus,” he said.
“Every species lost is an irreversible event that decreases the resilience of natural and human systems on a permanent basis.”
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