KUALA LUMPUR: Today is the 50th anniversary of International Mother Earth Day, and it seems like Planet Earth, rather than man, has every reason to celebrate.
With COVID-19 keeping man indoors in almost every country of the world for the past month or so, there has been a drop in air, water, soil and noise pollution around the globe.
And, the Earth has been able to “breathe easy”.
But, for how long?
In his message in conjunction with International Mother Earth Day, United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said the COVID-19 crisis is an unprecedented wake-up call in terms of the planet’s unfolding environmental crisis.
“We need to turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future.
“Climate disruption is approaching a point of no return. We must act decisively to protect our planet from both the coronavirus and the existential threat of climate disruption,” he said.
Guterres proposed that as the countries of the world spend huge amounts of money to recover from the coronavirus, they must deliver new jobs and businesses through a clean, green transition.
“Where taxpayers’ money is used to rescue businesses, it needs to be tied to achieving green jobs and sustainable growth.
“Fiscal firepower must drive a shift from the grey to green economy, and make societies and people more resilient,” he said.
Guterres said public funds should be used to invest in the future, not the past, and flow to sustainable sectors and projects that help the environment and the climate and that fossil fuel subsidies must end, and polluters must start paying for their pollution.
“Climate risks and opportunities must be incorporated into the financial system as well as all aspects of public policy-making and infrastructure.
“We need to work together as an international community,” he said.
On this Earth Day, it would not be too much for the people around the world to heed Guterres’ appeal to join him in demanding a healthy and resilient future for themselves and Mother Earth as well. – Bernama