Connect with us

Green Planet

US Recantation from the Pleasures of Paris Agreement: Implications and Imperatives for Climate Human Rights

Dr. Nafees Ahmad

Published

on

[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]he technology of tectonic torment, oceanic oppression and climate contumacy of the world wolfs has inflicted indelible scars upon the climate. On the occasion of World Environment Day (WED) on June 05, 2017, We, the Nations of the World, got wedded with the climate contumacy of the US that has, ultimately, decimated the dreams and desires and had meted out the global grief to the humanity.

In 2015, at Paris—a city known for its pleasures—a utopia was created only to be destroyed later. The Paris Agreement has been regarded as the biggest step ever collectively accomplished by the global community to alleviate the catastrophic impact of climate change on the only planet blessed with essentials of sustainable human existence and survival. However, the history is replete with the instances of US recalcitrant behaviour in international commitments in the areas of preserving environmental ecology and human rights teleology. In this context, America cannot be great again on the decimation of lives of the people of 194 countries of the world in its quest for a Pyrrhic economic growth.

Since the inauguration of the Donald Trump’s presidency in the US, Paris Climate Change Agreement has been a political cynosure only for the wrong reasons. Consequently, US eccentricities after Kyoto Protocol were once again exposed in its latest recantation from Paris Agreement that was formulated as per its whims and megrims as a non-binding and non-penal agreement. It is an act of below the belt diplomacy and political hara-kiri that might derail the Climate Justice peregrination. Now, the comity of civilized nation-states sans US, Syria, and Nicaragua must ponder over the existing contours of the impugned agreement and recalibrate it as a binding pact for the posterity. Because future of 95% people of the world is greater than the 5% population that has adopted a policy of my way is high way deviant to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. Climate Change has attained the proportions of an invisible but invincible war unless We, the Nations of the World, believe in the collective, cohesive and corroborative actions based on the global rule of law, global sovereign equality, global common good, global state transparency, global, national accountability and global massy reality. Thus, the climate change is an issue of human rights as it endangers the entire human survival.

The composite cultural heritage of humanity, rummaged and reviewed from the perspectives—socialist or capitalist, spiritualist or materialist, or biblical or individual—cogently convinces that in every human being, person and group there is an irreducible, irrevocable, inalienable, non-negotiable and non-derogable existence of a supreme spirit called “climate human rights” (CHRs). In the denial of CHRs, human dignity is decimated, human duty is divagated, and human civilization takes a step backward. The emblem of humanity on each occasion must fly full mast. The state forces fretting fraternity must be fumigated. The CHRs Odyssey has many vulpine visions, adroit adventures and indentured indulgences and the same has been displayed by the Trump regime. Today, context, content, and currents of CHRs juri-science are pervading all the nationalities beyond its past, present, and future and are on the path of perennial permutation to the World Wide Web of social behavaiour deviant to a confluence of contradictions, conflicts, and clashes. The CHRs jurisprudence sans human hierarchy is the transnational trajectory of understanding climate change.

The human heritage of vintage vision, ancient ancestry, and pristine pursuits must be the congregate of the humanity while understanding the CHRs seriously beyond the future. The classical and contemporary chaos in the cosmos of humanity is escalating at a pace never witnessed before. The concept of CHRs has a history marked by the philosophical paradoxes, political pontifications, and geostrategic considerations. Knowing that history and understanding those paradoxes is the international itinerary which illuminates the state of CHRs today. The global grief springs from the globalization is a complex and controversial phenomenon that ramified, rankled and revisited the concept of CHRs. One of the few certainties is that understanding CHRs seriously will be essential to understanding the world that we live in with the threat to the climate for all times to come.

There are specific terminologies which denote the different stages of climate talks traversing to address the adverse impacts of climate change. Therefore, COP-21 stands for the Conference of the Parties that has been representing the countries who have signed and participated up to the 1992 UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change). The COP in Paris is the 21st such conference and known as the Paris Agreement and in French as Accord de Paris within the UNFCCC addressing the climate change issues like greenhouse gases emissions, mitigation, adaptation, and finance commencing in the year 2020. But President Trump has always adopted an exclusivist agenda deviant to the international consensus and priorities. Trump’s anti-climate change policies are based on promoting the exploitation and mining of domestic natural resources such as fossil fuel and coal. Trump has issued an executive order in March 2017 whereunder all rules and regulations prohibiting such expropriations were amended, diluted, and weakened. Moreover, the disputed order has rejected the global standards of carbon pollution in the energy sector and created the impediments for implementing the plans of clean energy, which were directed to mitigate the of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power plants. US recantation from the Paris Climate Change Agreement has meted out a colossal yank to the minimalist initiatives made by the Obama administration. Even before the issuing the controversial order, Trump administration has already cut the grants in the US Federal Budget of all the key programmes for mitigation of Greenhouse Gases emissions. Moreover, all scientific research programmes relating to the climate change studies were also cut to size inter-alia winding up of GCF (Green Climate Fund) and closing the funding the UNFCCC bodies. Primarily, the GCF was created to help and facilitate the developing countries in their fight against the mounting menace of climate change. The US denial and its withdrawal from the COP-21arrangement amount to the betrayal and barbarity having obvious implications for rest of the international community. Therefore, remaining countries should re-calibrate and re-cast COP-21 Agreement and sideline the US in their quest for an equitable global order.

Primarily, COP-21 agreement was envisaged and prepared US lines exclusively as it was, initially, not keen to fulfill all the obligations and it was not ready to attend its part of the problem of climate change. Thus, US have sponsored an agreement that has stipulated minimum responsibility and US has also promised most minimum threshold of emission mitigation. Moreover, US assured the international community to reduce 26-28 percent emissions and bring back the existing emissions levels to the levels of 2005 by the year 2025. But, even if the year 1990 is considered the baseline, then the US would be able to reduce its emissions levels only 13-15 percent by the year 2025, and by the year 2030, it would reduce only 23-27 percent of emissions. However, EU would reduce only 40 percent emissions to the levels of 1990 by the year 2030 because Obama Administration was not keen to get Paris Climate Change Agreement passed by the US Congress. Therefore, Paris agreement has been envisioned and prepared as a voluntary, non-binding, and non-penal arrangement. The US cannot come out of the Paris Agreement by calling it unreasonable and against interests of America. It is, indeed, the fallible and fallacious argument that has undermined the convictions and commitments of 194 countries of the world. These countries had accommodated the flawed and cynical concerns of the US with the only hope that the US would fulfill its obligations under the impugned agreement.

It is, now, axiomatic that the COP-21 Agreement cannot achieve its targets without the full participation of the US Government. It must not be ignored that the US has hugely polluted the environment with impunity. The US is responsible for contributing 21 percent pollution out of the total CO2 in the environment. Presently, the US is the second biggest polluter country in the world and regarding emissions as per capita income it the first country. Therefore, till the US bears its responsibility of achieving its part of emissions targets, then rest of the countries would not be able to accomplish the Paris objectives.

The COP-21 Agreement has been founded on the principle of “upward mobility” accomplishment of mitigation targets of emissions as the treaty forges ahead. It was the central argument that convinced the developing countries to be privy to the Paris Agreement. Now, Trump administration wants to re-calibrate the contours of its contributions under the censured agreement that fundamentally annihilates the core principle of the Paris understanding. Thus, any tinkering with the existing orientation of the COP-21 agreement would destine to make the life of the planet earth dangerous and destructive for sustainable survival in years ahead. The COP-21 agreement has made fiscal provisions whereunder the developed countries have to grant $100 billion to developing countries along with the transfer of technology and other incidental supports to it. But, unfortunately, the US has disturbed the entire roadmap of addressing the dangerous repercussions of climate change with its withdrawal at this juncture. Ultimately, with the US repudiation of this agreement, the developing world must come forward to have a new arrangement excluding the US. Trump regime is impregnated with many obtuse perceptions relating to the developing countries, and President Donald Trump has to make a discernible choice between perception-based governance and policy-based governance. Now, the time has come for the developing countries to ponder over how to attend international challenges in some fields by minimizing their dependence on the US. The humanity of 194 countries and their CHRs cannot be treated as a pawn in the hands of the US and at the altar of its so-called interests.

Ph. D., LL.M, Faculty of Legal Studies, South Asian University (SAARC)-New Delhi, Nafees Ahmad is an Indian national who holds a Doctorate (Ph.D.) in International Refugee Law and Human Rights. Author teaches and writes on International Forced Migrations, Climate Change Refugees & Human Displacement Refugee, Policy, Asylum, Durable Solutions and Extradition Issus. He conducted research on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Jammu & Kashmir and North-East Region in India and has worked with several research scholars from US, UK and India and consulted with several research institutions and NGO’s in the area of human displacement and forced migration. He has introduced a new Program called Comparative Constitutional Law of SAARC Nations for LLM along with International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and International Refugee Law & Forced Migration Studies. He has been serving since 2010 as Senior Visiting Faculty to World Learning (WL)-India under the India-Health and Human Rights Program organized by the World Learning, 1 Kipling Road, Brattleboro VT-05302, USA for Fall & Spring Semesters Batches of US Students by its School for International Training (SIT Study Abroad) in New Delhi-INDIA nafeestarana[at]gmail.com,drnafeesahmad[at]sau.ac.in

Continue Reading
Comments

Green Planet

Thwarting Trump on Climate Change Denial

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

Published

on

We now have the remarkable convenience of the internal combustion engine, and also its noise and chaos and emissions to energize climate change.  Burning fossil fuels has put us on planet Titanic …

The doomsday clock remains at a critical two minutes to midnight, the ‘new abnormal,’ spelling future disaster, and we will continue to be like the “Titanic, ignoring the iceberg ahead, enjoying the fine food and music,” to quote former California governor Jerry Brown.  He is now the executive chairman of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the organization behind the clock.  This year climate change is cited as a major cause; it was the principal reason in 2012 and 2014.

The U.S. ‘National Climate Assessment’ last November did not mince words when it noted, “The evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming … the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country.”  The report mandated by Congress and affirmed by science agencies of the government was repudiated by President Trump:  “I do not believe it,” was his blunt response.  Mr. Trump religiously opposes climate change, believing it to be a natural phenomenon that will reverse itself also naturally.  About the current administration, one prominent scientist, the president of the Woods Hole Research Center, was quoted in Science as saying, “They’re in la-la-land.” Science has labeled the inaction, the policy breakdown of the year.

Sadly this la-la-land is not harmless as tell-tale signs of the exacerbation of weather events are already here:  Hurricanes intensify quickly, then move slowly shedding unprecedented amounts of rain.  It happened with Harvey over Houston in 2017, and with Florence over North Carolina in 2018.  That overall temperature in the oceans is breaking new records is one good reason.

The 1.5C report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has given us, on the safe side, a 12-year window in which to start reducing emissions, to try to achieve neutral balance by mid-century, or eventually a self-reinforcing feedback loop will lead to uncontrollable warming and a “Hothouse Earth.”  If   we cannot expect any policy initiatives from this administration, can changes in individual behaviors help?  Apparently yes, and it is within our power to address two major CO2 sources:

Carbon capture from the atmosphere is difficult and expensive.  A better alternative might be to remove it at the source.  That means at power stations and factories, and there are new processes offering hope.  However, most carbon emission comes from transportation, and it points to a future of electric cars using electricity from CO2 scrubbed power stations.  The choice of car is clearly up to us.

Another avenue of individual involvement is dietary change for a sustainable future — in itself clearly at odds with the zealous consumption of meat in rich countries.  Ruminants release methane through belching as food passes through their several stomachs.  Over their agricultural cycle, cattle alone emit 270,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas per tonne of protein, many times more than poultry.  As Bill Gates has observed if cows were a country, they would rank third in greenhouse gas emissions.

There is another way to look at it.  One can translate a kilo of different food sources into the number of car miles driven.  Lamb is definitely the worst at 91 miles followed by beef at 63.  Bad news for vegetarians, cheese comes in at 31 miles.  It is followed by pork (28), turkey (25), chicken (16), nuts (5) and lentils (2).  Imagine if dietary habits changed from beef to lentils, even once a week would make an enormous difference.  Also chicken, turkey and pork are reasonable substitutes as cutting out beef and lamb is clearly critical.  By the way, Indian food has delicious lentil recipes.

Scientists may soon have other intriguing possibilities, including lab-grown meat, that is if the current Beyond Burger type bean substitutes do not quite make the taste test.  Then there are crickets!  They happen to be an excellent source of protein offering more per pound than beef, and their production leaves a tiny ecological footprint in comparison.  Ground up into powder, this protein can be added to flour or other foods, and it is available.  Kernza is a perennial grain and a substitute for wheat and corn but without their annual tilling which robs the soil of nutrients and also causes erosion.  There is also a new oil made from algae.  Sourced originally from the sap of a German chestnut tree, it has been developed further to yield more oil, and is being sold under the name Thrive.  With a neutral taste and high smoke point, it makes an excellent substitute for the environmentally destructive palm oil, where plantations have ravaged forests in Indonesia and imperiled orangutans.

Personal choices can make a huge difference, including walking whenever possible for short distances instead of driving — mostly it’s just habit.  Bicycles, tricycles and push scooters are all out there, including some with electrical power assist.

Yes, there are options available to cut back our contributions to climate change; they require changes in habits and tastes, perhaps difficult, but we will have to eventually if we are not to leave behind a raging planet for future generations.  Meanwhile, the young in Europe have been marching in their tens of thousands to draw attention to the issue, and it cannot hurt to do likewise.

Continue Reading

Green Planet

Eye in the sky: Using satellites to better manage natural resources

MD Staff

Published

on

Looking up towards the stars at night, the sky can give the impression of being empty and infinite. In reality, space is getting more and more crowded every day.

According to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, there are currently 4,857 satellites orbiting the planet. Among them are two Sentinel-2 satellites, part of a space-borne mission provided by the Copernicus European Earth Observation programme. The two satellites visit the same spot on Earth every two to five days, depending on the location.

Their sensors acquire multispectral images with spatial resolution varying between 10, 20, or 60 metres, depending on the spectral band. The data produced by Sentinel satellites is freely available to the public and the volumes of data are staggering. Between Sentinel 1, 2 and 3, over 10 petabyte of new data are made available for download every year. With a single petabyte equalling 500 billion pages of standard typed text, this is Big Data worthy of its name.

The satellites are providing ever more detailed information about the state of our planet, and businesses have long ago figured out how to use this data. The European Commission estimates that the cumulative benefits of the Copernicus programme by 2020 range between US$11.4 to US$15 billion (10 to 13 billion euros). So how can we translate this wealth of information into tangible benefits for the environment at the local level?

“In Colombia, small-scale, mechanized illegal gold mining is creating environmental challenges on an unprecedented scale,” says Inga Petersen, Senior Extractives Adviser within UN Environment’s Crisis Management Branch. “Excavators and dredgers used to dig up river beds for alluvial gold mining are contributing to wide-ranging deforestation and the loss of natural wetlands. Highly toxic mercury used in processing contaminates air and water and has accumulated in the food chain, posing significant threats to human health and ecosystems,” she adds.

However, mining areas are often hard to reach and keeping track of new or abandoned operations can be a challenge to local government agencies.

To support the mapping of new and abandoned sites and identify opportunities for restoration, UN Environment is collaborating with the University of Liège, in Belgium, to leverage Sentinel-2 data for local-level decision-making and early warning.

Funded by the European Commission (DG Grow) and EIT RawMaterials, the RawMatCop CopX project (Geospatial mining transparency through Copernicus and MapX) is analysing changes on land and water bodies, focusing specifically on mining ponds created on riverbeds. These ponds offer clues regarding the status of the mining activities.

Detecting and analysing these clues with the use of Earth Observation requires machine learning and image processing techniques in challenging, highly clouded areas. These techniques are key to understanding the dynamics in the mining area and to potentially automate the search to cover larger areas and track changes over time.

Testing this innovative underlying methodology started in 2018 in the Bajo Cauca region in the Antioquia department. The project is being implemented in close cooperation with the Government of Colombia, including the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development as well as other UN agencies and strategic partners. Once established, CopX aims for the analysis to be applied at a larger scale and even offer the potential to establish an early warning system which can be adopted by the government to tackle illegal gold mining and monitor the implementation of restoration strategies.

However, translating big data into actionable insights is only a part of the solution. Making this data available to the relevant policymakers at the local and national level in a format which is accessible to non-experts is a critical step to enable evidence-based decision-making.

With this in mind, the project will use MapX, an online, open-source geospatial platform backed by the neutrality of the United Nations, to make the results available in easy-to-understand maps. The platform uses summary story maps, such as this one, to outline the interlinkages between the environment, conflict and natural resources.

“Whilst MapX can host sensitive datasets in private projects, MapX’s mission is to increase global environmental transparency by making the best available data widely accessible. Access to information is especially important in places like Colombia, where the environment features prominently in the 2016 peace agreement,” says Petersen.

In addition to featuring the outcomes of the project, MapX provides a comprehensive data catalogue, including data on the environment, the socio-economic context and conflict interlinkages. Combined with a suite of analytical and visualization tools, platform users can easily analyse, contextualize and visualize interactions between different data layers to increase awareness and inform decisions. Data, maps, narrative and multimedia files can then be summarized in interactive story maps to help tell the story hidden in the data.

UN Environment

Continue Reading

Green Planet

Air pollution is choking Bangkok, but a solution is in reach

MD Staff

Published

on

photo: UN Environment

A recent spell of especially soupy air has Bangkok scrambling to disperse dangerous pollutants and protect residents against dire health impacts.

The government has reacted quickly, clamping down on heavily polluting vehicles, deploying police and military to inspect factories and incinerators, shutting schools to protect children, and even deploying cloud-seeding planes to force rain and clear the air.

According to Kakuko Nagatani-Yoshida, UN Environment’s Regional Coordinator for Chemicals, Waste, and Air Quality, it’s a good start.

“The government has to take decisive action to enforce pollution regulations, and they are on the right track so far, deploying efforts such as strict enforcement of emission controls. We know they are also looking at more urgent measures and UN Environment is working closely with the government on longer-term solutions,” she said.

“While solutions like cloud seeding may provide temporary relief for larger particulates, it does not, however, help reduce PM2.5,” she warns. “After these interim measures, the next logical step is to shut down the most polluting factory. That may mean accepting some economic damage in the short term, but protecting public health must be the utmost priority. Beyond factories, the government can move urgently to replace soot-spewing public buses and boats running on diesel fuel with versions that are less polluting.”

Air pollution in Bangkok arises from a mix of factors. Traffic, construction and factory emissions are the main reasons, but at this time of the year, burning of waste and crop residues is also a major source. There isn’t just one culprit for the recent bout of air pollution, but it has been exacerbated by weather conditions that have not allowed the pollutants to disperse.

Bangkok and other areas in Thailand already experience regular air pollution. The prolonged period of unhealthy air in Bangkok is not unique to the city nor the country: 92 per cent of Asia and the Pacific’s population—some 4 billion people—are exposed to levels of air pollution that pose a significant risk to their health.

The current countermeasures are a short-term solution to this problem because, as Nagatani-Yoshida points out, “Factories can’t be closed forever. People need to get around. Ultimately, if people want to breathe clean air, numerous measures must be taken to tackle pollution.”

UN Environment recently published guidance on reducing air pollution. Some 25 measures could reduce premature mortality in the region by one third and see one billion people living in Asia breathing clean air.

“We hope country, provincial and city governments across the region, including Bangkok, look at these recommendations and implement them urgently,” said Nagatani-Yoshida.

UN Environment and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition are already working with the Thailand Pollution Control Department, the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency, and other agencies to implement some of these clean air measures and substantially reduce PM2.5 levels.

In particular, UN Environment is collaborating with the Pollution Control Department to leapfrog from Euro IV vehicle emission standards to Euro VI, which are currently the strictest standards in place.

Collaboration will also focus on helping shift 2–3 wheelers in Bangkok from gasoline to electric and retrofitting the numerous boats and ferries used for public transportation in the canal-connected city.

There is no time to waste. The faster the government moves to clamp down on emitters and back clean alternatives, the sooner Bangkok and the rest of the country can start to breathe again.

UN Environment

Continue Reading

Latest

Trending

Copyright © 2019 Modern Diplomacy