Protect planet or be ready to pay the price - GulfToday

Protect planet or be ready to pay the price

Climate Change

A protester smiles during a demonstration for climate protection in Abuja, Nigeria. Reuters

Hundreds of thousands of young people taking to the streets across the globe sends a loud and clear message that decision-makers do not anymore have the luxury of dilly-dallying when it comes to taking effective measures against global warming.

The planet has been facing the heat, there is no planet B and the time is running out.

Global leaders gathering for a UN climate summit next week should take a serious note of the worldwide rallies and initiate measures to avert an environmental catastrophe.

The global climate strike on Friday kicked off in the Pacific islands — some of the nations most threatened by rising sea levels — and followed the rising sun through Australia, Japan, Southeast Asia and into Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Americas.

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist who has inspired the movement, noted in a tweet the “huge crowd” in Sydney, which she said would set the standard for strikes and protests planned in about 150 countries.

The climate challenge comes on multiple fronts. Ocean heat hit a record high in 2018 raising concerns about the threat global warming poses to marine life.

The world has already witnessed temperature records smashed from Europe to the Arctic Circle. The last four years had been the hottest on record.

The first half of 2019 saw intense heat waves in Australia, India, Pakistan and parts of the Middle East, according to the World Meterological Organisation (WMO).

Soaring temperatures broke records in Germany, France, Britain and the Netherlands.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report spells out that by the end of the 21st century temperatures must not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius. Not enough is being done to achieve that.

Besides the heat waves in Europe, drought and storms in Africa, melting glaciers, bleaching corals, the Arctic ice melting are all indications of the danger lurking on the climate front.

Fortunately, there are also some positive signals. Some countries and leaders are showing willingness to address the issue.

The German government, for example, has presented a far-reaching 50 billion euro package of measures to curb carbon emissions, including a new carbon dioxide (CO2) pricing system and a higher air traffic tax.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that the deal agreed by the country’s governing parties after all-night talks represented a major boost for Germany’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Europe’s biggest economy aims to cut its emissions by 55% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

Separately, growth in the renewable electricity generation sector has returned to a double-digit pace thanks to a surge in the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, as per the International Energy Agency.

The IEA expects renewable capacity additions to grow by almost 12 per cent this year, the fastest pace since 2015, to reach almost 200 gigawatts (GW), mostly thanks to solar PV and wind power.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and first lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda joined school students in Poland’s Puszcza Biala forest to pick up trash, saying the forest cleanup was a way to care for the environment.

Africa is the most vulnerable continent to climate change and the least equipped to deal with it.

The harmful effects of manmade climate change need to be tackled.

Climate action concerns each and every individual on the planet. It will be irresponsible on the part of the present generation to leave a much more inhospitable planet for the future generations to inherit.