Global action needed to curb emissions - GulfToday

Global action needed to curb emissions

Pollution

Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

The clock is ticking on climate change and the world cannot afford to waste any more time.

If protest rallies staged in cities across the world on Friday demanding leaders take tougher action against climate change are  any indication, people are getting increasingly aware of the repercussions of lethargy in dealing with the life-threatening issue.

Public awareness is growing can also be gauged by the fact that Friday’s climate strikes took place in as many as 2,300 cities in over 150 countries, as indicated by the climate campaign group Friday For Future.

Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has successfully inspired a global movement of children who skip school on Fridays to hold marches and rallies demanding politicians treat climate change as an “emergency” and boost efforts to curb planet-warming emissions.

In a comment piece written with fellow activists from Chile and Germany, Thunberg stated they had a “simple” message for leaders headed to the forthcoming Madrid talks: “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. Act accordingly.”

A growing number of governments at national and city level are declaring “climate emergencies”, joined on Thursday by the European Parliament.

In a long-running opinion poll, Europeans for the first time said the fight to tackle climate change and protect the environment was the most important issue for parliamentarians to address, with 32% putting it as their top priority.

The Eurobarometer survey also showed close to six out of 10 European citizens were confident or convinced that youth-led protests had directly impacted national and European policy.

The European Union executive has already stated it would propose by March 2020 a new climate law to turn the bloc neutral in terms of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and help lead the struggle against global warming.

Some small-island developing states and Latin American and African countries have pledged to work on cutting their emissions to net-zero by mid-century, and that surely sends a positive signal.

Nonetheless, though a total of 68 countries have so far indicated they intend to raise the ambition of their national climate action plans next year, the troubling fact is that they represent only 8% of global emissions.

As United Nations officials point out, climate change is happening— and the world is already 1.1°C warmer than it was at the onset of the industrial revolution. That’s already having a significant impact on the world and on people’s lives. If current trends persist, global temperatures can be expected to rise by 3.4 to 3.9°C this century, which would bring wide-ranging and destructive climate impacts.

That’s the stark warning from the international community ahead of the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference, known as COP25, which gets underway in the Spanish capital, Madrid, on Dec.2.

The most worrisome factor is that emissions are still going up, not down.

According to the 2019 WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high.

This continuing long-term trend means that future generations will be confronted with increasingly severe impacts of climate change, including rising temperatures, more extreme weather and water stress. Not enough is being done to meet the three climate goals: reducing emissions 45 per cent by 2030; achieving climate neutrality by 2050 (which means a net zero carbon footprint), and stabilising global temperature rise at 1.5°C by the end of the century.

And, that’s like asking for trouble.