Climate Change: The latest pledges by countries to tackle global warming under the Paris Agreement are “woefully inadequate” to avert a rise in global temperatures that scientists say will worsen droughts, storms and floods, a report dated 19th October stated.
US and China the biggest POLLUTERS should be brought on table for proactive and reasonable participations.
Climate change has emerged as one of the biggest environmental challenges facing the world. Twenty years ago at the United Nations, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway’s former Prime Minister and former Director-General of the World Health Organization, first drew global attention to the threats posed by climate change to the earth and its inhabitants.
Speaking at the 15th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in May 2007, Ms Brundtland one of three Special Envoys on Climate Change appointed by the UN Secretary-General emphasized the fact that there can no longer be any misgiving about human-induced climate change and its likely impact on the planet. Today there is broad international scientific consensus that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activity, particularly fossil fuel use and deforestation, have increased the concentration of these gases in the atmosphere. As a result, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the earth’s mean surface temperature has warmed by 0.75º Celsius over the past century, and 11 of those 12 years (1995-2006) have been among the 12 warmest years since 1850. Based on projected GHG trends, temperatures could rise by another 2ºC to 5ºC, or perhaps even more, by 2100.
Increases of this magnitude were expected to have widespread negative impacts on human welfare and natural ecosystems, including wide-ranging economic, ecological and social effects. Climate change is likely to increase the prevalence of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, and may increase the intensity of severe weather events. It is likely to lead to an increase in water levels and serious flooding, and at the same time cause water scarcity in arid regions. Climate change is expected to irreversibly damage some natural resources and ecosystems. Overall, climate change is projected to deliver a devastating combination of adverse impacts for the world’s poor, both because of geography and low income, making adaptation to climate change much more difficult. While developing countries have contributed the least to the problem, they are expected to bear the brunt of the impact of climate change, which threatens to jeopardize many of the developmental gains that have already been achieved.
Only 7% reduction by NDC is much low
The 2015 pact launched at a UN global climate summit required 194 countries to specify their plans for fighting climate globally and locally. The pledges made through Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), would reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases by only 7 per cent from 2019 levels by 2030, which stands much lower than the desired prerequisite.
During the summit, it was surmised that countries must strengthen their targets by about six times that, or at least by 43 per cent, to align with what the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has prescribed, adequate to reach the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting the global temperature rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Current NDCs (Nationally Determined Contribution) propose to reduce emissions by 5.5 gigatons which are nearly equal to eliminating the annual emissions of the United States. But only 10 per cent of that planned reduction has been pledged since 2021.
Only India, Australia and Indonesia did boost their NDC
On the brighter side, Australia, Indonesia and India did boost their NDCs this year, but there hasn’t been a lot beyond that. Countries in the Paris Agreement are required to update their NDCs by 2025. If the pace of progress from 2016 to today continues, the world will not only miss the Paris Agreement goals, but it will miss them by miles.
Reducing Mathane Gas emissions should be prioritized
The ‘Global Climate Talks’ to be held between the 6th to 18th of November this year is more likely to focus on reducing emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide.
In a glaring example of the ineptitude and insensitive approaches of the majority of countries WRI (World Resources Institute-Climate Change) found that only 15 of the 119 countries that signed a Global Methane Pledge launched last year included a specific, quantified methane reduction target in their NDCs.
Genuine apprehension about climate change shrank across the world last year, a survey shows, with fewer than half of those questioned believing it posed a “very serious threat” to their countries in the next 20 years.
Only 20% Chinese (World’s Biggest Polluter) consider Climate Change a very serious threat
Only 20 per cent of people in China, the world’s biggest polluter, believed that climate change was a very serious threat, down 3 percentage points from the previous poll in 2019, the survey by Gallup World Risk Poll showed on Oct 19. The COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about more immediate issues such as health and livelihoods may partly be the cause for the drop.
Less concern in regions with higher ecological threats
Regions with the highest ecological threats are on average the least concerned about climate change, with only 27.4 per cent of the Middle East and North Africa and 39.1 per cent of South Asian respondents concerned about the risks.
But despite the shrinking concern, the ecological bill of climate change is growing globally.A study by the Institute for Economics and Peace of 228 countries and territories found that 750 million people globally are now affected by undernourishment and climate change as well as rising inflation, and Russia’s war in Ukraine will exacerbate food insecurity in the future.
More than 1.4 billion people in 83 countries face extreme “water crisis”, where more than 20 per cent of the population do not have access to clean drinking water, a recent study by WRI showed.
Alarming Potable Water Scarcity by 2040 across the globe
Several European countries are expected to experience critical clean water shortages by 2040, including Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and Portugal, the report found, which will also hit most of sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa.
Annually, air pollution has cost the world US$ 8.1 trillion, or 6.1 per cent of the global gross domestic product, causing between 6 to 9 million deaths, the WRI study explained, adding that the average global cost of natural disasters reached US$200 billion annually, four times higher than in the 1980s.
Negotiators at COP27 (Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC) need to consider how climate change is exacerbating the impacts of ecological threats … and how the international community can mitigate them.
United States of America the 2nd largest POLLUTER has done very little to reduce the effects of climate change
Ironically the second largest polluter of the world The United States of America has done very little in its efforts to reduce pollution instead of always trying to shift the onus to the developing nations, who are by far not so notorious as compared to the two giant polluters China and America. Even the native Americans have expressed their serious concerns over their own government’s apathy in this ever-burgeoning crisis. A recent survey by Pew Research Center, conducted between April 29 to May 5 among 10,957 U.S. adults using the Center’s online ‘American Trends Panel’, revealed that a majority of U.S. adults feel that their government could have played a larger role in addressing climate change. About two-thirds (65%) of Americans claim that the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change – a view that is widely endorsed across the globe.
The withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement amply substantiates the US lack of concern on this most crucial issue plaguing the globe. Besides, withdrawing from Paris Agreement Trump completely dismantled the climate policies made by former U.S. President Obama.
Trump’s government was dominated by the conservative Republicans – the traditional energy sectors who marginalized climatic concerns over economic issues.
The cabinet of the Trump administration included members who are formerly affiliated with energy companies. Trump has to consider their requirements. The second was Trump’s need to fulfil his election promises. Trump had to enhance public awareness of his policies and prepare for the next term of his administration. Trump projected himself more as a businessman and as an anti-politician. He emphasized ‘America First’ and tried to create an easy environment for states that heavily relied upon traditional energy as an industry. Third, the Trump administration made an overall assessment of the withdrawal and left enough space for them to renegotiate.
Besides, Trump is not the first U.S. President to withdraw from a legally binding international climate agreement. Early in 2001, President Bush claimed that climate mitigation is not in the best interest of the U.S. and refused to sign the ‘Kyoto Protocol’. His decision led Canada, Russia, and Japan to opt out of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
According to Article 28 of the Paris Agreement, parties cannot apply for withdrawal during the first three years. And, another year was required for actual withdrawal once the UN had formally received the withdrawal application. Therefore, Trump could only start the process for withdrawal by November 2019, and withdrawal would have been accomplished not earlier than the end of the first term of the Trump administration. Hence, Trump had considerable grounds for renegotiation and flexibility for his next term in office.
Trump however lost to Biden, but the U.S. still could participate and influence the negotiation of the Paris Agreement. Even if the U.S. does not participate or participates less in negotiation, countries allied with the U.S. could intercede on behalf of the U.S.
The International Climate Binding Organizations should exert adequate pressure on the two largest POLLUTERS the US and China and bring them on table for their more appropriate and larger contributions towards mitigating this global catastrophe.