Staff Reporter :: Bangladeshi Scientist urged for a new normal that is a green normal and also equitable normal moving forward. There is a need to deal with environmental problems both locally and internationally, while Covid-19 pandemic, public health crisis, and natural disasters such as ‘Amphan’ take a toll on Bangladesh.  Prof. Saleemul Huq made the call at the global webinar held on  13th June (Saturday)  hosted by Global climate protest group Fridays for Future (FFF).  Prof Huq spoked on an interactive session titled “Dealing with the COVID19 pandemic while positioning to tackle climate change: some emerging lessons from Bangladesh” while thousands of young people and climate strikers participated in the webinar from across the globe.

 As a guest speaker Prof Saleemul Huq said, Social media platform that we are using and available to us now allow us to connect the cross border the way that we never had before. This is an opportunity we have to do more off and became proactive and organize ourselves better we need to be once putting clip to set bottom-up pressure position and if we don’t make it then we have to be use our democratic rights wherever we have options to vote them out and get good leaders come in. Youth can be an important part in find ways in which we might be able to collaborate the voices of Friday’s for Future group mainly students together with the voices of the most vulnerable communities wherever you happen to be living you can get and contact them and let us see whether we can bring the earth forces together. As we are slowly thinking of going back to regular life, let us not go back to the way we used to. May be nature has given us a second chance. Let us use that as an opportunity and start living a live where we put our environment first, we put the world first as it is our home, he opined.

In the virtual event, Bangladeshi climate justice expert Prof. Huq addressed that due to our distraction of biodiversity and our lack of keeping ecosystem interact from nature and the non-human world the animal world virus jumps into the human world. Every country is being hit by the pandemic but at the same time every country is taking very significant measure to lock down the populations and lockdown itself is have sounds extremely negative consequence particularly in the poorer country. So the people living in the major slums in Dhaka, Mumbai, Delhi, Nairobi, Kape town these slums dwellers, when they are lockdown lose their livelihood as most of them, are day laborers and have a little bit of income for food. But if they are forced to stay all the time in the slum first of all do any social distancing and secondly they lose their livelihood and so many millions of slums dwellers in the big cities in India and Bangladesh in particularly people have been leaving because they simply can’t continue to live where they are and it’s very difficult for the authority both the local authorities like Mayors, Ward Councilors, health authorities, police and the other regulatory authorities to even know who they are. So it created a major negative impact on millions of people particularly on slum dwellers on big cities.

Prof Huq mentioned, `As countries and globally we take measure to both deal with the COVID-19 public health crisis in a public health context at the same time dealing with the economic crisis with the shutdown and the impacts on economies all over the world we need to be looking at the stimulus packages and investments that are both safe making us safer for the public health pandemic we will have’.

He added, COVID-19 and the climate crisis the two are not connected in the same. On the other hand, the impact that it causing and the solutions that we have to do are very similar. The impacts on the most vulnerable are the most vulnerable to climate change as well as COVID-19. We need to take them into account as we come up with the solutions under Adapting to the new normal. We need to apply a ‘new normal’ in our approach to tackling the climate emergency – for our planetary crisis continues to escalate. The climate-related disasters causing death, disease and displacement aren’t taking a break simply because a global pandemic has taken hold, prof. Huq said.

He told, `We would have pandemics again in future we need to be better prepared we were certainly not prepared this time and we need to also at the same time take care of the climate change impacts which have not gone away. Climate change is still continuing even though we are having a cope up with the Covid-19 crisis. So just because we have a public health crisis doesn’t mean the climate change crisis has gone away we just have an extra crisis’ he opined.

He illustrated by sharing a recent experience that we had on 20th May the super Cyclone Amphan. This later becomes a super cyclone because the temperature of the Bay of Bengal was much higher than the normal and that can be attributed to the fact that we already because of our greenhouse gas emission raised the global atmospheric temperature by more than one degree already. So the super cyclone Amphan can be attributed to the raising of the global temperature and is therefore attributable to the human endured climate change. So we had a double crisis on the one we had have been the virus, on the other hand, we had cyclone. Now challenges to face double crisis got exacerbated by Coronavirus where they had to try and maintain social distancing but in crowded shelters, it’s almost impossible to do that. Fortunate for Bangladesh it hit India first and did a lot more destructions of trees and faunas in Sunderbans, the world’s biggest mangrove forest and by the time it hits habitations it wasn’t as severe.

Bangladesh deals with the crisis with proactive precaution and good early warning message with a capacity to evacuate two and a half million people going to cyclone shelter reduces the loss of live. But there were few deaths reported but particularly more damages due to overtopping of the coastal embankments and saline water get into the fields causing negative impact on the livelihood and forcing people to move and migrate. Bringing loss and damage issues to overcome the economic stability of that vulnerable community. So the impact of cyclone Amphan in India and Bangladesh clearly now a loss and damage issue because of human-induced climate change that is no longer something that is going to happen in the future and it already happening now.

Prof. Huq point outed considering the rapid spread of COVID-19 brings the recognition that we need to abandon the old, normal way of dealing with global crises and three major lessons to set examples are as follows:

Listen to science and value key workers who apply it: The pandemic has brought two major revelations. The importance of listening and responding to science and capacitate society’s most essential workforces. The new normal must value science and recognize essential potential sectors; tasked force with the guidance to act that comes from it. The most important lesson is the COVID-19 is reinforcing but the climate change science world has been saying for a long time that leaders who listen to scientist will be their own populations better that leaders who refuse to listen to their scientist and this is what we are seeing right now as we speak of New Zealand has become the first country to claim COVID free.

The leaders in the US, UK and in Brazil and Russia are four good examples of leaders who did not listen to the scientist and they made their own way for decision. I contradict with what the scientist told them and the citizens are now in danger.  The same applies for climate change scientists have been warning the world leaders for years and years even decades and they avoiding carelessly. Now I the time for the world leaders to take climate change seriously listen to the scientist, reducing emissions to bring down the global temperature to below 2 degrees if possible 1.5 degrees which seems very difficult now but it’s still not impossible if we can get the political will.

 2nd point on how do we generate political will? Building back greener: Due to COVID crisis there is sudden and dramatic downturn in carbon-emitting activity has shown us that we can indeed cleanse and rebuild our natural environment. The leaders who don’t listen to the scientist will want to back in bad ways allowing subsidies to the oil industries and the fossil fule companies. We don’t want that we need a new normal that is green normal.  As we move towards post-COVID recovery, the challenge will be to get back to life we had before, but without the old polluting ways. The path towards the new normal must be clean and green with collective effort. We need to think and plan a future that is both green as well as equitable and doesn’t leave the poorest behind any more like we used to before. The old normal is not an acceptable normal we want a new normal that is a green normal and also equitable normal going forward.

The final point is growing global solidarity: As with the virus, so with climate change: the impacts do not recognize geographical borders, no country is risk-free as it’s a global issue. A collective, global effort to prioritize and improve solidarity across all countries is needed, with a specific commitment to being inclusive of the most vulnerable. The way to generate this is from all of us because the leaders have failed to listen and understand ignoring the scientist when they make their decisions. Decisions are made on behalf of the rich and powerful not on behalf of the poor and vulnerable and so they suffer. That’s wrong and immoral. So we can’t sit idle anymore. So just watching and learning and giving an opinion to friends is not good enough and we need to go beyond and start taking actions for a safe world. Now it’s kind of wakeup call that everybody needs to believe as an individual citizen need to take action and getting out of the shell doing lobby and advocacy, learn better so we need to be linking up.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Fridays for Future has postponed all mass gatherings and called for a “climate strike online, a strike from home and on the Internet.” Bringing the movement from the streets to the internet due to the global coronavirus pandemic, FFF invite Dr Huq, is the Lead Author of the IPCC assessment report on Adaptation and World’s 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy as part of their regular webinars, Confirms FFF Bangladesh coordinator Sohanur Rahman. The FFF movement led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg quickly became a global phenomenon and has sought to bring world governments into full compliance with the 2015 Paris climate accord. The campaign has been acting as a pressure group to the governments across the world for implementing measures to ensure zero carbon emissions and tackle climate change impacts. Protesters groups such as Extinction Rebellions, Fridays for Future and 350 urged protesters to prevent mass gatherings and continue with digital activism.

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