LETTERS: There is no doubt that Covid-19 has rattled the world. Many countries are unsure how best to deal with the pandemic.
We are fortunate that China has given us all some useful lessons in fighting the coronavirus.
The latest we hear is that China no longer has new local infections. The country is not completely free yet since now they have to deal with imported cases. These mainly comprise returning Chinese nationals from overseas. What is particularly impressive about China is that they are now sharing their expertise in Covid-19 with countries struggling to cope.
One such country is Italy, where the situation is even worse than China. We in Malaysia have also been in close consultations with experts from China in stemming the spread of the disease. It has been reported that China has also sent experts to countries in Africa to help them deal with the early stages of the virus attack.
Say what you want, but it is evident that in recent years, China has been actively pursuing programmes to help other countries build their economy. One notable programme is of course the Belt and Road Initiative.
As the world continues to be engulfed by the pandemic, many see some positives coming out from the sufferings that many have to endure.
One obvious positive outcome from the lockdowns and social distancing that have been imposed is our other fight with another common enemy — climate change.
Despite the strong evidence on such climate upheaval, sceptics still abound.
What is most disconcerting is that some political leaders of the world continue to throw doubts on the scientific evidence. However, Covid-19 has achieved what all the United Nations Climate Agreements put together could not — and that is to rein in, to some extent, the threats to climate change.
I refer to the massive drop in carbon emissions as a result of the drastic reduction in travel, as a consequence of the movement control measures introduced by all affected countries. With such measures, the number of cars plying the highways has dropped. The same reduction is also seen for air travel.
Many airlines are asking for government bailouts to save their business. All such reductions have significantly dented the global demand for fossil oil.
The much-reduced global oil demand coupled with the increasing supply from the big oil nations has put pressure on the world oil price.
Apparently, the major oil exporting nations cannot agree on the supply rationalisation. As a result, the world oil price has plummeted to less than US$30 a barrel. We, in Malaysia, are equally impacted by the low oil price since much of our revenue comes from oil and gas. But one unfortunate impact of the low oil price is that it would negate the global ventures into renewables.
Economists agree the drop in global growth is inevitable. In fact, some are saying a global recession is imminent. We are now witnessing massive drops in stock markets the world over. Every country, with no exception, has announced billions of dollars in economic stimulus packages to cushion the impact of the slowdown.
Malaysia has announced a RM20 billion injection. But this amount may have to be adjusted upwards according to the experts. The small and medium enterprises and informal businesses are the ones which will be most affected. Even the banks are not spared from the economic malaise.
Some are saying that only if countries can pledge such amounts to fight global warming, then we would be able to stall climate change very significantly. At least Covid-19 brings some respite to global warming.
PROFESSOR DATUK DR AHMAD IBRAHIM
Fellow Academy of Science