United Nations, April 21 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned against a retreat from climate action at a time when the world is preoccupied with the coronavirus.

“Currently all eyes are on the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest test the world has faced since the Second World War. We must work together to save lives, ease suffering, lessen the shattering economic and social consequences and bring the disease under control. But, at the same time, let us not lose focus on climate change,” he told a virtual forum organised by the Alliance of Small Island States on Monday, Xinhua reported.

The recent devastation caused by Cyclone Harold in the South Pacific is yet another reminder that the world is in the midst of a climate crisis, Guterres told the Placencia Ambition Forum. “Such events will only become more regular and deadly unless we act decisively and in concert as an international community. Now is not the time for retreat.”

The social and economic devastation caused by climate disruption will be many times greater than the COVID-19 pandemic, he warned.

“By committing now to building back better from the pandemic, we can use the recovery from the effects of COVID-19 to secure a more sustainable and resilient future. For that, we need ambitious climate action on mitigation, adaptation and finance.”

Small island states have traditionally been at the forefront of climate advocacy and action. Their voices are needed now more than ever to ensure the international community keeps the promise of the Paris Agreement, said Guterres.

By coming forward this year with enhanced nationally determined contributions and strategies to reach net-zero emissions, small island states will once again lead the way for others to follow on ambitious climate action, he said.

He pledged UN support for small island states in their climate action. “It is essential that you are supported in your efforts to adapt and build resilience. I will continue to advocate for debt relief, including for middle-income countries, to enable you to survive both the impacts of COVID-19 and the growing threats of climate change.”

–IANS

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