Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has called for a combined effort to tackle the coronavirus and the climate crisis, amid the pandemic, calling for a “new way forward”.
"We need to tackle two crises at once," the 17-year-old said during a livestream event to mark World Earth Day.
"Whether we like it or not the world has changed, it looks completely different from how it did a few months ago and it will probably not look the same again and we are going to have to choose a “new way forward.”
Earth Day, which was celebrated on April 22 this year, coincided with the coronavirus pandemic this year, which has seen cities around the world go into lockdown, resulting in significant improvements in air and water quality.
Fish have been seen in Venice canals no longer polluted by motor boats, while residents of some Indian cities have reported seeing the Himalayas for the first time in decades.
Satellite imagery has shown significant air quality improvements across Europe and Asia, including China, where the coronavirus pandemic emerged.
Residents in some of China's most smog-prone cities said they feared blue skies would not last as the world's second biggest economy got back to work, however.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) is anticipating a six per cent drop in carbon dioxide emissions this year, which would be the biggest yearly drop since World War II.
Clear coronavirus skies ‘not a substitute for climate action’
"COVID-19 may result in a temporary reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but it is not a substitute for sustained climate action," the WMO said in an Earth Day statement.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas called for people to not only flatten the pandemic curve, but also climate change curves.
“We need to show the same determination and unity against climate change as against COVID-19. We need to act together in the interests of the health and welfare of humanity not just for the coming weeks and months, but for many generations ahead," said Mr Taalas said.
Every day is #EarthDay.— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) April 22, 2020
The changes needed to safeguard future living conditions for all species won’t come from governments or businesses.
It will come from the best available science and public opinion.
So it’s up to us.
Spread the science. #unitebehindthescience pic.twitter.com/6nIFpz1Qf3
UN chief Antonio Guterres agreed with Ms Thunberg, urging people to be weary of the climate crisis.
“On this Earth Day, all eyes are on the COVID-19 pandemic,” Guterres said.
“But there is another, even deeper emergency, the planet's unfolding environmental crisis.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.