Address climate change with urgency

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Address climate change with urgency

Monday, 03 April 2023 | Bishal Kumar Saha

Address climate change with urgency

The poor people have to suffer the most as they are more vulnerable to climate change

The world is in grave danger of exceeding the accepted threshold of global warming. The target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is only a few tenths of a degree away. It implies that the world will surpass the target within a decade. According to the recently released report of IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), it is still possible to stay within 1.5 degrees Celsius, but it all depends on government actions in the upcoming few years to keep greenhouse gas emissions within permissible limits so that temperatures fall back to safe levels, instead of rising alarmingly. The study places a strong emphasis on human efforts to deal with the situation. It says just as human activity has warmed the atmosphere, in the same way, it's human action that can bring temperatures down. It signifies the target of reducing carbon pollution and fossil fuel usage by approximately two-thirds by 2035 to keep greenhouse emissions under certain limits. This means that by 2040, rich countries must end their dependency on coal, oil and gas and, in parallel, need to switch towards renewable alternatives of energy that are not only eco-friendly but also economically viable to use. The efforts made by IPCC scientists have worked out in enlightening the world about the fact that climate change affects more than just temperature rise, ice melt and sea level rise; in addition, it causes human catastrophes and makes life on earth intolerable due to water crisis, food insecurity, increased mortality rates, higher disease transmission and displaced population.

The damage is severe, and the poor people have to suffer the most as they have limited resources to protect themselves from the adverse effects of climate change. Almost half of humanity is now constrained to live in the extremely harsh conditions of climate change. It would be fatal to consider the report lightly and neglect it as a pedagogical exercise. Even if it may seem challenging to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, taking an ostrich-like approach and acting as though little harm would result would be catastrophic for humanity. Rather, it only speeds up the process of destruction. It is immensely significant that every nation, irrespective of its socio-economic stature, must shoulder its part of the responsibility for collectively mitigating greenhouse emissions.

This can be achieved by lowering the use of fossil fuels to a certain level, which accounts for 80 per cent of CO2 emissions. The world witnesses covid catastrophe, global warming, climate change and many other adversities which are more than enough to consider the need to redefine the parameters of development by protecting human and environmental security on top of every other aspect. The core objective of every global leader in several summits and conferences should be to focus on maintaining ecological balance, adaptability and environmental health rather than making economic wealth.

The developed countries have ample money and advanced technology to stop the planet from burning up, yet climate financing has been woefully insufficient. As per estimates of the IPCC, the investment made to deal with climate change mitigation and adaptation is three to six times less than the need to achieve the goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees C. Investment of trillions of dollars is required to keep the planet inhabitable for not only humans but also for the coexistence of biodiversity.

(The writer is a postgraduate from the Central University of Punjab with a keen interest in the environment and sustainable development)

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