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Lessons learned from COVID-19 can help us fight climate change

28 17 18
27.11.2020

The pressing need to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine and make it available to everyone everywhere to bring an end to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic resulted in a rare collaboration between world governments, scientists and private drug manufacturers.

The economic and social devastation caused by this catastrophic global public health emergency not only underlined the importance of multilateral international collaboration, but also forced us to acknowledge the glaring social and economic inequalities that exist both in wealthy and poor countries.

The pandemic showed us what happens when political leaders dismiss science and refuse to take the necessary steps to protect all their citizens, and the rest of humanity, from public health crises and other natural disasters. Hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods unnecessarily lost to this disease should serve as a warning to not repeat the mistakes of the recent past, and be prepared for similar threats that undoubtedly await us in the future.

While we do not know what disease outbreaks we may face in the coming years, there is one threat that we know is already at our doorstep: climate change.

Today, climate change is still the most significant threat to global economic and social stability. Scientists say we have a critical and rapidly closing window of opportunity to curb the devastating effects of climate change by limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

We know what happens when science is ignored – we have seen the consequences of not taking warnings from scientists seriously in the early phases of the coronavirus pandemic. And we are already paying the price for ignoring climate science – there are more fires, floods, droughts and other unpredictable weather events across the world today than ever before.

While climate change is undoubtedly a global problem, the African continent is expected to be the region hardest hit by its consequences.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently warned that 2016-2020 is expected to be the warmest five-year period in Africa on record, and rang the alarm bells for the fate of agriculture, public health systems, water resources and disaster management capabilities on the continent. A Greenpeace report published earlier this year, meanwhile, warned........

© Al Jazeera


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