COVID-19 crisis shows governments can also act to save nature and the climate

Press release, 22 April 2020
Statement on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day from IIED director Andrew Norton:

“As COVID-19 dominates global attention and action it is critical governments remember that their urgent action is also needed to stop the twin emergencies of nature’s destruction and climate change.

“Nature, ecosystems and the climate remain in crisis. Never in human history has the threat to the survival of plant, animal, insect and marine life and the systems they depend on been so severe.

“While the pandemic will lead to a temporary dip in global greenhouse gas emissions, this must not distract from the urgent need for rapid fundamental changes in infrastructure, energy, land use and industrial systems to set us on a path to net zero emissions globally by 2050 at the latest.

“Land use change and deforestation are primary global drivers of biodiversity destruction. They heighten the risk of further pandemics by bringing humans into contact with new threats such as the coronavirus. Every species lost is an irreversible event that decreases the resilience of natural and human systems on a permanent basis.

“The key global summits due to take place in 2020 on the climate and biodiversity crises have been delayed to 2021. But we cannot afford to lose momentum on action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, build the resilience of the poorest countries and communities, and protect the natural world.

“The tragedy of COVID-19 proves urgent, collective action is possible. Across the world, in the midst of great suffering and disruption, people are appreciating and benefiting from the resurgence of nature and cleaner air caused by the reduction in local pollution.

“Another world is possible. Earth Day is a key reminder – if one is needed – that the world needs determined collective action to combat the destruction of the nature and climate on which all life depends.”

Media enquiries

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Beth Herzfeld, IIED head of media, on +44 (0)7557 658 482 or email beth.herzfeld@iied.org