SINGAPORE (Apr 17): Covid-19 is now a defining crisis of our generation. But it is not alone. As we mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we must consider what the next 50 years might bring if we fail to address the crisis of climate change.

Covid-19 has shown us societies, governments, and businesses can respond quickly to systemic existential crises. Unfortunately, it has also shown us the fragility of international cooperation and coordinated global responses to large-scale threats. The former gives us grounds for optimism; the latter requires inspired global and regional leadership.

The world is currently reeling from the social and economic shock of Covid-19. The shock of climate change is likely to be more extreme. Estimates point to a potential loss of 30% of GDP per capita by 2100 if temperatures reach 4°C above preindustrial levels, with substantial socioeconomic costs in employment, displacement of people, and risk to food and water systems. The impact on Southeast Asia could be closer to 90% loss of GDP per capita.

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