Earth Day: The post-pandemic economic rebuild should be sustainable, say conservationists

Earth Day: The post-pandemic economic rebuild should be sustainable, say conservationists
WatchOur natural world has done a bit of a reset in the economic shutdown of COVID-19, but Canadian conservationists are seeing a troubling pattern of governments laying the groundwork to possibly bypass environmental legislation in the name of economic revival. Kori Sidaway reports.

Amidst this devastating pandemic, nature seems to have hit a reset button.

Air pollution is falling by unprecedented rates in major cities all around the world during lockdowns. Canals in Venice are crystal clear, people in the Punjab region of India can see the Himalayas for the first time in decades.

It’s perhaps a pause, that was needed, say some conservationists

“It’s time we reevaluate what practices we want to bring forward into the future and which ones we leave behind,” said TJ Watt of Ancient Forest Alliance.

But some activists say provincial governments are already laying the groundwork to bypass environmental legislation in the name of quick economic revival.

“The COVID crisis presents both an opportunity to reflect and reconnect with nature, or can also be used by opportunistic governments to deregulate environmental laws as it’s being done in Alberta and Ontario,” said Ken Wu of Endangered Ecosystems Alliance.

Both Ontario and Alberta have effectively suspended oversight and enforcement of pollution regulations. American President Trump has announced something similar, and conservationists expect more governments to follow suit, but say the move is shortsighted.

“Just because there is currently a global pandemic to do with this virus, doesn’t negate the fact that there’s also a global climate emergency,” said Watt.

“The worst thing we can do at this time is to relax environmental regulations and further degrade an already ailing planet.”

Activists are calling for sustainable economic revival when it’s time.

“Of all times we need to be enforcing environmental laws and strengthening them,” said Wu.

“Ultimately the fate of the planet is the fate that underlies all of our fates.”

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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