COVID-19 not "silver lining" for climate: UN environment chief

Source: Xinhua| 2020-04-06 00:28:40|Editor: huaxia

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Inger Andersen, head of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), has said that greenhouse gas emissions are down and air quality has gone up as governments react to the COVID-19 pandemic, while cautioning against viewing this as "a boon for the environment."

"As we inch from a 'war-time' response to 'building back better,' we need to take on board the environmental signals and what they mean for our future and wellbeing, because COVID-19 is by no means a 'silver lining' for the environment," the UN News reported Sunday, citing the UN environment chief.

Speaking of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping the world, Andersen said "the outbreak will have profound and lasting economic and social consequences in every corner of the globe."

"Visible, positive impacts - whether through improved air quality or reduced greenhouse gas emissions - are but temporary, because they come on the back of tragic economic slowdown and human distress," she warned.

"The pandemic will also result in an increase in the amounts of medical and hazardous waste generated. This is no one's model of environmental response, least of all an environmentalist's. And indeed, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography has highlighted that fossil fuel use would have to decline by about 10 percent around the world, and would need to be sustained for a year to show up clearly in carbon dioxide levels," said the UN environment chief.

"Any positive environmental impact in the wake of this abhorrent pandemic, must therefore be in changing our production and consumption habits towards cleaner and greener," she said.

"Only long-term systemic shifts will change the trajectory of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. So, in the aftermath of the crisis, when economic stimulus packages composed of infrastructure are designed, there is a real opportunity to meet that demand with green packages of renewable energy investments, smart buildings, green and public transport ... " said Andersen.

The UN environment chief noted that "an important pillar in our post-COVID recovery plan must be to arrive at an ambitious, measurable and inclusive framework, because keeping nature rich, diverse and flourishing is part and parcel of our life's support system."