UNITED NATIONS Secretary General António Guterres has called the world’s attention back to climate change, even as countries work feverishly to save lives in the face of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The social and economic devastation caused by climate disruption will be many times greater than the current pandemic,” predicted Guterres in a video message to the Alliance of Small Island States Ambition Forum in Placencia, Belize, earlier this week.
According to Guterres, it is now more important than ever to focus attention on climate change which promises to be ‘slower’ and ‘deadlier’ than COVID-19. He encouraged small islands, such as those of the Caribbean, to pursue efforts towards enhanced resilience.
“Small island states have traditionally been in the forefront of climate advocacy and action. We need your voices now more than ever to ensure we keep the promise of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees,” he said.
“By coming forward this year with enhanced, nationally determined contributions and strategies to reach net zero emissions, you will once again lead the way for others to follow on ambitious climate action,” Guterres added.
At the same time, he said that the pandemic was an opportunity to “build back better”, as the global community is provided with a unique window to create a more resilient future through “ambitious climate action on mitigation, adaptation and finance”.