COP 26: Is this the last chance for humanity to fight climate change?

Pollution Oct 25, 2021

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“All of you who choose to look the other way every day because you seem more frightened of the changes that can prevent catastrophic climate change than the catastrophic climate change itself. Your silence is the worst of all.” – Greta Thunberg

This is the 21st century and the world is growing faster than ever. The requirement for this growth to continue is an unabated supply of energy, for which we have been heavily relying on fossil fuels in the last centuries. It still caters to about 85% of energy usage globally.

The result of this extensive and injudicious use of fossil fuels pumped greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, which gave rise to global warming and paved the way for the catastrophe that we are facing, i.e. Climate Change.

To address Climate Change, In 1992 Earth Summit was held by the United Nations, where the United Nations Framework on Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) came into being, under which a Conference of Parties (COP) is held every year where leaders of all countries come to deliberate over the issue of climate change.

Some of the most remarkable COPs have been COP3 which led to the signing of The Kyoto Protocol and COP21 which resulted in the signing of The Paris Agreement by 192 countries, where members agreed to limit the global rise in temperature up to 2 °C pre-industrial levels by end of the century, ideally up to 1.5 °C.

The UK is going to hold the 26th COP at Glasgow from October 31 to November 12. Leaders from more than 190 countries will be participating in it.

It was decided by The Paris Agreement that the progress on the issue regarding climate change would be ratified every 5 years and this is going to be the first such summit. This means that countries are expected to update their 2030 targets before they meet.

Four crucial agendas of the meeting would be:

  1. Reaching Global Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 to maintain 1.5 °C rises in temperature. It will require countries to develop ambitious plans and work on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and gives a call for phasing out coal, moving to renewable energy, and adopting Electric Vehicles.
  2. Adapting to effects of climate change and protecting habitat. Climate change is already happening, we need to ramp up infrastructure to save what we have and help farmers to build resilience against Climate Change.
  3. Mobilization of Finances. To achieve the above goals worldwide, finances are required, most affected are developing nations, developed countries pledged $100 Billion per year for climate change. Money must be arranged from public and private sources to support this global cause.
  4. Working together to deliver, there is only one way this problem will be tackled, with unity and synergy between nations, businesses, and civic societies to deliver on our climate goals faster.

Why does limiting the temperature to 1.5 °C matter?

Studies suggest that a 2 °C rise in temperature will have a severe impact on nature. One-third of the World’s population will be exposed to extreme heat that will cause health problems and heat-related deaths.

It will lead to the melting of Arctic glaciers and ice sheets over Greenland would disappear eventually which would affect the rise of sea level by several meters major areas of small island states and coastal cities will be lost to climate change.

Where do we stand now?

Without the Paris Agreement, if we continue burning fossil fuels, it will lead to at least 3 °C rises in temperature by 2100. Countries have been working on NDCs individually, as there is a huge disparity between the socio-economical setups of countries. Scientist suggests it will not be enough to contain climate change.

Developed countries possess the finances required to tackle this transition through mitigation, while the most severely affected countries face huge challenges even to adapt to the changes. Ironically, it is majorly the developed nations whose industrialization in the previous century is affecting other countries. As speculated Africa will lose its ice peaks to climate change by the year 2050, 54 countries combined in Africa are responsible for 4% of emissions worldwide. Countries must understand their accountability and provide for the need.

We have set up targets, but they mean nothing unless those targets translate into actions, fast. We don’t have a planet B. It’s totally our responsibility to bring about a change for our future generations to come.

This article has been written by Rutam Pimplapure for The Paradigm

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