A policeman directs traffic in the heavy smog in Heilongjiang province, China (File) Image Credit: EPA

If the economic slowdown, that persisted for 15 months as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, was expected to have a positive impact at least on the global environment then the latest scientific data from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US makes for alarming reading indeed.

As factories idled, there was less traffic on the roads and far fewer planes in the skies — but the slowdown barely made any dent in the levels of carbon dioxide already in our atmosphere, a stark warning that our planet is dangerously close to tipping point and we have little room left before we cause deeply significant and largely irreversible damage to the planet we all share.

According to data from both bodies, carbon dioxide levels are higher than at any time since scientists began recording these levels 63 years ago.

With the Group of Seven world leaders due to meet in England this weekend, the data is a sober reminder that time is indeed truly running out and that prompt and significant action of climate change is needed now — not down the road. We are simply running out of time now.

This data should be a call to action for leaders and, by the time world leaders gather in Glasgow in November for the next major international climate conference, we need to be committed to a course of action that safeguards our planet now.

We are guardians of our planet, responsible for ensuring we hold it in stewardship for future generations. The onus is heavy now to ensure that we are the generation that changed course, put measures in place to reduce carbon emissions, reduce our footprint and protect the environment by taking every measure possible to lower the temperature now.

The government of the UAE is deeply committed to protecting our environment and ensure that renewable energy is at the forefront of our programmes for prosperity. The international community will have the support of the UAE in taking the necessary steps now to protect our environment and advance the cause of carbon and temperature reduction.

Already, with each passing season, the effects of climate charge are being adversely felt — higher temperatures, more violent weather events, great unpredictability as our changing world impacts our physical geography — with a high economic cost, too.

We cannot ignore this latest data. We cannot ignore the warning signs. We cannot afford to do little. We have little time to act — not just for ourselves, but for the very future of our planet.