No More Business As Usual After Coronavirus Crisis, Say City Leaders From Hong Kong To New York

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Mayors from many of the world’s leading cities have agreed that the world cannot afford to return to the business-as-usual approach after the Covid-19 pandemic. In a newly published “statement of principles” under the global collaborative city network C40, representatives from Hong Kong, New York, London and over 30 other cities have agreed to place equality and climate resilience at the forefront of its recovery plan. 

If humanity is to prevent a complete climate breakdown after the coronavirus crisis ends, we cannot return to business as usual, agreed the city leaders representing over 750 million people around the world. 

The new statement of principles came after digital talks were held between global city mayors as a part of the newly formed C40 economic task force, and has already garnered over 30 signatories, including Hong Kong, London, New York, Seoul, Quezon City and Santiago. Parties to the agreement will coordinate efforts to map out a plan towards a low-carbon sustainable rebuilding process from the coronavirus crisis

A business as usual approach would mean the world is destined to see global temperatures rise by over 3 degrees Celsius, which scientists have warned will spell disaster for billions around the world. Last week, a study found that over one-third of the global population will live in temperatures too hot to survive if we do not curb carbon emissions immediately. 

Secretary for the Environment Kam-sing Wong, who represented Hong Kong, said: “Hong Kong has managed to keep the number of confirmed cases at a relatively low level, but we need to remain alert given the volatility of the epidemic. To protect citizens against future threats, including the threat of the climate crisis, we will continue to share experience and knowledge with C40 Members on measures to promote [a] green economy as part of our economic recovery efforts.”

Many cities have already rolled out measures to support sustainability in its recovery process, such as setting up new bike lanes in Milan and Mexico City to widening pavements and permanently turning roads into pedestrian and cycling areas in New York, London and Seattle. 

“Half-measures that maintain the status quo won’t move the needle or protect us from the next crisis,” said Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City. “We need a new deal for these times – a massive transformation that rebuilds lives, promotes equality and prevents the next economic, health or climate crisis.”

The new global mayors task force will be advised by leading eco-forward economists, including Kate Raworth, an Oxford University economist who created the acclaimed “doughnut” economic model that prioritises both people and the planet. 

In April, the world’s leading wildlife and biodiversity experts warned that unless we change our current unsustainable system and halt the destruction of nature, there will be even deadlier pandemics in the future after the current Covid-19 crisis. 

Lead image courtesy of AFP.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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