“Climate change is bigger than the pandemic”

FILE PHOTO: A man demonstrates as Greenpeace stages a climate protest at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in Schiphol, Netherlands December 14, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/File Photo

Climate change is bigger than the coronavirus pandemic, Associate Professor Alan Deidun said during 103 Malta’s Heart morning show.

He explained that this statement was made by his 9-year-old son, to which he expressed surprise that such a young person could understand the ramifications of climate change.

Professor Deidun explained that while with the coronavirus pandemic, various measures could be taken to slow down the rate of infection, the same could not be done when the tipping point in climate change is triggered.

The tipping point is defined as irreversible change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, introduced the idea of tipping points two decades ago. At that time, these ‘large-scale discontinuities’ in the climate system were considered likely only if global warming exceeded 5°C above pre-industrial levels. According to the information published in two most recent special reports by the IPCC suggests that tipping points could be exceeded even between 1 and 2 °C of warming.

During the Morning Show, Professor Deidun asked what would happen when the sea level rises, when drought or flooding hit which would cause thousands of deaths.

He noted that the world managed to indirectly achieve a lot during the coronavirus pandemic when states took drastic measures and imposed lockdowns or other measures which in some way or another limited the burning of fossil fuels. He remarked that cleaner air was achieved by default due to the situation the communities were in. He added that states had tried to achieve such results through different instruments and agreements signed over the years.

Professor Deidun said that the tangible impact the reduction in emissions had should make one think as he feared that things would soon get back to “normal”. He noted that everyone enjoyed cleaner air and the reduction in emissions.

Another point which should be taken into consideration is what one has learnt from this public health emergency, he said, adding that it should help us prepare ourselves for future emergencies that we might not treat as urgent in reference to climate change.

He said that while coronavirus claimed the lives of many and led to many people losing their jobs, climate change would have a bigger impact when it hits and people would not be in a position to do much to mitigate its effects.

A catch 22 situation

Asked whether a balance could be achieved between the economy and health, Professor Deidun said that many economists have been speaking about a green economy and green jobs, noting that this was not a new concept. He mentioned that even the European Union had its own plans for the bloc through the EU Green Deal.

Professor Deidun noted that however that this a catch 22 situation where countries are investing heavily to get their economies going in the short-term. He said that in the race to recover back the economy, states might lose out on the lessons learnt during the first few months of the global pandemic.

“Are we ready to change our lifestyles?” he asked.

Laudato Si – a blueprint for balance

Commenting on Laudato Si – the encyclical letter by Pope Francis – Professor Deidun described it as a “blueprint on reaching balance”.

He remarked that an important aspect of this encyclical letter is that Pope Francis went on to say that in matters which relate to science, the Church is ready to collaborate with scientists. Pope Francis specifically mentions climate change, he observed.

Professor Deidun noted that many think that the Church is separated from science mentioning the story of Galileo to make their point. He maintained that in Laudato Si the Church is saying that it is ready to work hand in hand with scientists.