US pullout from climate pact disappointing - GulfToday

US pullout from climate pact disappointing

Climate Change

The US action has come at a time when rapid action is required to avoid impact of global warming.

Considering that climate change is a challenge faced by entire mankind, the US government’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement is hugely disappointing.

The action by the US, which is the leading country in terms of emissions, has come at a time when scientists and many world governments have been urging rapid action to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.

Fortunately, the US is the only one of the signatories to the agreement — to keep CO2 emissions to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — to announce it is pulling out.  

The rest of the world stands together on climate protection, including Russia, a fossil fuel exporter, which recently joined the pact.

The domino effect of withdrawals by countries such as Brazil and Australia after US President Donald Trump’s announcement has not occurred.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, an ideological ally of Trump, has belittled environmentalists but has held off on threats to withdraw from the Paris accord, with the European Union requiring adherence as a condition for a major trade deal.

A Washington Post poll last month found that even in his own party Trump faces growing opposition on the issue, with 60 per cent of Republicans agreeing with the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity.

Four of the 10 countries most affected by climate change are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres had remarked on Sunday, urging the ASEAN-UN Summit in Bangkok to confront the world’s climate emergency.

This region is highly vulnerable, particularly to rising sea-levels, with catastrophic consequences for low-lying communities, as recently published research illustrated.

On the positive side, there are countries that go an extra mile to initiate efforts to tackle global warming.

Italy will next year become the world’s first country to make it compulsory for schoolchildren to study climate change and sustainable development, its Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti has stated.

Fioramonti, from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, is the government’s most vocal supporter of green policies and was criticised by the opposition in September for encouraging students to skip school and take part in climate protests.

Fioramonti has indicated that all state schools would dedicate 33 hours per year, almost one hour per school week, to climate change issues from the start of the next academic year in September.

Also, in a call for action at the end of the recent High Mountain Summit to tackle the global warming causing glaciers to retreat, along with snow fields, permafrost and associated ecosystems — collectively called the cryosphere — the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and partners have announced they would step up commitments on the issue of water security and natural disasters linked to melting ice in mountain regions.

Changes across the world’s peaks are altering the cryosphere, and impacting the flow of freshwater, which meets the needs of more than half of humanity – they are, in effect, “water towers of the world”.

In addition, the problem of disappearing ice caps is stretching from mountainsides to urban communities downstream, as glacial melt-dependent pastures becomes parched, and avalanches, floods and other disasters snuff out lives and weaken local economies.

As UN officials point out, to avoid climate catastrophe, the world must cut greenhouse emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.