Eyes on PolyU

What can the COVID-19 crisis teach us about tackling climate crisis?

The COVID-19 Pandemic is causing a global health crisis and forcing economies to slow down. It is affecting the lives of millions of people and, also, the environment is implicated. Is this pandemic offering us lessons and opportunities leading to climate action? Mr Leung Wing-mo, Former Assistant Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, joined a special webinar arranged by the Campus Sustainability Office in June 2020 and shared his views on what we can learn from the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Leung joins PolyU Head of Campus Sustainability Mr Joseph Chan in a webinar

At a time when the world is working hard to deal with the global coronavirus outbreak that seems so threatening, Mr Leung reminded us that we should not set aside another defining crisis of our time – climate change. No corner of the globe and no man can be immune from the devastating consequences of climate change. In Hong Kong, we witness rising temperatures, terrible hot nights, rising sea levels, and extreme weather conditions, and they are becoming more frequent and intense. Climate change is affecting our world and may exacerbate the emergence of other novel infectious diseases in the future due to rising global temperatures and milder, shorter winters. 

Mr Leung says no one can ignore climate change warnings

As the coronavirus situation worsens, we see a higher rate of home working and reducing consumption and business activities. There are lockdowns and even curfews in some areas. Concurrently the smog-layered skies become clear blue for the first time in years, and greenhouse gas emissions are down. Are these positive signs for the environment? Mr Leung said he was happy to see global CO2 emissions decline, but the decrease in emissions could be short-lived, “I would rather welcome a continuous reduction in energy demand, development of alternative energy sources, and substantial improvements in energy efficiency and infrastructure so that we can achieve a long-term reduction in energy use and daily emissions.”

Mr Leung shares his views on what we can learn from the coronavirus pandemic

“If we can take some drastic measures right at the time to safeguard ourselves from a global threat like COVID-19, why not take mitigative measures as promptly as we can to confront climate change?” Mr Leung made his comment as he was asked to elaborate on the parallels between this health crisis and the climate crisis. “It’s time to learn to turn crisis into opportunity, and we cannot afford to wait.” 


Please click here to view the video recording.


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