The 50th edition of the Earth Day was held under the sign of the coronavirus

La 50e édition du Jour de la Terre se tient sous le signe du coronavirus

STR / AFP
For the time being, the crisis has had the effect of pushing back appointments crucial in the field of protection of the environment, which are linked to climate change and their catastrophic consequences, as here the flood of 2017 in the district of Zengcheng, Guangzhou, in the chinese province of Guangdong.

At the time when the 50th edition of the Earth Day takes place this Wednesday in full crisis of the planet, the UN warns that it will be essential to “building back better” in order to protect themselves against future ” global threats “. For this, you need to quickly address the climate crisis, the increasing pollution and the steep decline of biodiversity.

“The pandemic is a stark reminder of the vulnerability of humans and the planet in the face of international threats. It is necessary to remedy the damage uncontrolled caused to our environment, ” insists the Nations Program for environment (UNEP), in a powerful message published on Tuesday.

“Nature is in crisis “, adds the agency, recalling the historic loss of biodiversity, the increase of different forms of pollution and, especially, the dramatic changes in the climate. “Ignore the threat of destruction of the environment poses risks, and these must be understood and addressed through protection measures and appropriate policies. “

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In terms of reduction of the climate threat, the UNEP states that the task ahead was still enormous, despite the temporary reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases caused by the crisis of the COVID-19. To hope for limiting global warming to 1.5 °C, which is the objective the most ambitious of the Paris Agreement, the un agency assesses that it is necessary that emissions declined each year from 7.6 %, and this, until 2030.

While many fear that the health crisis will slow even more in the fight against the climate crisis — the current commitments of the States lead to a warming of at least 3 °C, the united nations says that it is necessary to “send a clear message to world leaders to act” and that the protection of the environment is at the heart of an international resolve to ” build back better “.

Like the repeated calls from environmental groups and several scientists since the beginning of the current crisis, the UNEP insists therefore on the need to “take urgent measures” in favour of a “transition to green jobs” and ” stimulating sustainable economic “. To be clear, the exit from the crisis ahead should involve a marked reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels, who fill still 80 % of the world’s needs, according to the international energy Agency.

What is the stimulus ?

For the time being, the crisis has had the effect of pushing back appointments crucial in the field of protection of the environment, including the 26th conference of united Nations on climate change (COP26). To be held in November, it should allow to specify more ambitious targets for reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases. Another UN summit planned to adopt an international plan of protection of ecosystems, terrestrial and marine, has also been postponed.

The big unknown remains the color of the stimulus plans that will be put forward. Responsible climate at the world Bank, Stephen Hammer wrote last week that the “decarbonisation” of the economy should be a priority, as the restoration of natural environments and investments in climate resilience.

In this context, it remains to be seen what will be the signals sent by the big polluters are China and the United States, two countries that account for over 40 % of global emissions. After the crisis of 2008, the chinese authorities had relied on infrastructure projects in the energy, causing an increase in CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants. But since, the country is still very dependent on coal, has become the leading global investor in renewable energy. As the United States, the american president tries above all, for the time being, to preserve the oil and gas sector, hit hard by the crisis.

Some encouraging signals, however, have been launched over the past few days. In Europe, the ministers of the Environment of 17 countries said in early April that they wouldn’t lose sight of ” the ecological crisis “, stressing the importance of the project of Pact european green, “growth strategy” that could ” stimulate the economy and create jobs, while accelerating the green transition “.

As leader of a group of scientists associated with the UN, quoted by AFP, Anne Larigauderie noted, however, that the risks of pandemics are expected to increase in the coming years, in particular due to the accelerated destruction of natural environments.

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