New Delhi: The world is struggling with two global dangers, the novel coronavirus and climate change. However, these two pressing problems are interlinked, says a climate expert.
“Due to the continuous lockdowns, worldwide restrictions on movement and slowed economic activities, carbon emissions have reduced, air quality has improved, and one can witness the ecological restoration with the reduced resource consumption and waste disposal. But as we analyse the situation deeply, we realise that by overburdening the healthcare system, we indirectly increased medical waste, PPE kits disposal that led to more plastic waste and soil pollution, increased municipal waste leading to contamination of the land, air, and water, and so much more,” says Kunal Sood, founder of #WeThePlanet campaign and WeTheFuture. Sood explains that humans must go beyond ‘We The People’, and focus on something that is larger than ourselves; as a collective, we must be focused on ‘We The Planet’.
He adds: The Covid-19 emergency is showcasing the interconnectedness of our reality. It is likewise compelling us to recognize the quick need to act, prepare our people and our planet for the upcoming healthcare and environmental crisis. On the potential gain, it has shown us an enormous scope that with an extensive reaction, a worldwide emergency can be tamed, if we as a whole focus on it. It’s the best way to withstand and deal with any future healthcare or environmental emergency.
“Today, governments are gearing up to provide financial aid to help individuals and associations endure the surging economic distress, it’s every man’s job– as individuals and as organizations — to ensure that sustainability and climate action are rooted in the aid packages. We need to venture up and function as one to understand this, similarly as we are right now doing in our battle against Covid-19. Together, we can guarantee these key points stay high on the plan of public and global establishments, alongside accessible medical care.
“To meet this need and to benefit from this opportunity, there are questions that we must address: What can we do at the individual level to make a difference?” he asks.
According to Sood, “It’s inadmissible to impact our economy in order to cut natural resource consumption. What we should do is figure out how to do both: to protect a sound, prosperous economy with a promising future for everyone, while we protect our reserves. There should be a key arrangement between a healthy climate, a strong society, and a fulfilling economy.
“The Covid crisis forced us to stay home and work remotely. It’s time we normalize working from home or if at all travelling to work, ditch the everyday drive and use shared services, for those capable. This will help in producing less carbon emissions, reduce traffic, save money, and protect the environment.”
The crisis also made telecommunication as one of the most used and trusted sources of communication in the healthcare industry and everywhere else. Not only does it save time and assets when remotely coordinating instead of utilising resources, it’s also environment friendly.
In India, just 19 per cent of the waste recovered is reused and barely 11 per cent converted to energy. Waste management can be an option, given increased PPE kits and surgical mask disposal into the environment, to control carbon tax, carbon trading and different measures intended to battle the dangers of climate change and a step towards creating a circular economy, he says.
How can economies respond to the pandemic for climate action?
“As we face various interwoven emergencies at the same time — from the healthcare system being overburdened and the aid not reaching many people — this is the ideal opportunity for organizations to reevaluate their abilities and consider how to turn out to be more sustainable and responsible. We should ask ourselves where we can have the most impact — and afterward we should act, with the goal that we can begin driving towards a better and stronger future. Tackling the environmental emergency will also address inequality and prejudice, reinforce the economy, and advance worldwide healthcare. However, the clock is ticking. Inability to address the environmental emergency at the scale and speed required undermines the eventual fate of mankind,” says Sood.
The situation of people living below poverty during the pandemic, like those living in temporary settings, in slums, with no admittance to consumable water for hand washing, nor digital connectivity, is a distinct token of vertical disparity. Poor and disregarded communities are additionally bound to live near contaminated land, water, and air and poor weather conditions which cause respiratory medical problems and make them more vulnerable towards Covid-19. Additionally, environment related catastrophes and terrible climate conditions hurt the helpless more than anything.
Focusing on financial and social rights is critical to reacting to these emergencies. Coronavirus shows us that when governments put resources into financial and social rights through widespread access to public healthcare, education, accommodation and social security, individuals are stronger and ready to adapt during emergencies.
A lot is on the line now. We do not have decades ahead of us before we initiate a change and keep away from future catastrophes as a result of climate change. There is a requirement to aggregate efforts at all levels — locally, nationally, and internationally, across public and private sector — to handle environmental change and fabricate stronger social orders and economies, concludes Sood.
WeThePlanet and the Clubhouse Community have successfully raised and dispersed funds to vetted NGOs, including GiveIndia, Oxygen for India, Chopra Foundation, Desai Foundation, UNICEF, and SeeSchool, using charity navigator and trusted sources on the ground, they say.