Authors: Arshad M. Khan and Meena Miriam Yust
If the Middle East and its conflicts recently have caused thousands to lose their lives without any meaningful gain for either side, there is another issue, lacking immediacy in the human mind although quite urgent. That is the issue of climate change, and the clear evidence that the Paris Agreement to maintain the rise of the global mean temperature to within 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F) is in tatters.
For the first time in history, the globe reached a mean temperature of 2 C above pre-industrial levels on Friday, November 19, 2023. So reports Samantha Burgess, the deputy director of the Europe based Copernicus Climate Change Service.
The UN Environment Programme has released what it calls the Emissions Gap Report for 2023. It too finds the world is “heading for a temperature rise far above the Paris Agreement goals unless countries deliver more than they have promised.”
The UN Climate Change Conference, more commonly dubbed COP28 or more formally the Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), provides a forum for international negotiations and previously produced the landmark Paris Agreement … that the world now seems set on failing.
At present, the poorer countries in the world are requesting financial assistance to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Their argument: it was not their industrialization (yielding a higher standard of living for the developed rich countries) that produced the temperature rise above pre-industrial levels. In other words their request is for something owed to them.
As a portent of what lies ahead, the record for the global mean temperature this year shows again according to the Copernicus Service, that the 1.5 C rise was surpassed on 86 days up to October 2nd and headed to 127 days through the middle of November. It is becoming fairly obvious that the world has to join hands to face a danger which is threatening to engulf all of us. No one wants a future of severe hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, floods or their opposite, namely, dry heat waves and shortages of water.
We now have a forecast of catastrophe and a critical juncture for the human race. For a very long time, we have been the source of technology that undermines our planet, using it selfishly to benefit ourselves. With climate change looming and a warming planet a reality, how we interact with it has to change. Greenhouse gas emissions must fall.
The COP28 meeting next month brings together leaders and the best thinking of climate scientists. Other stakeholders include the young (who have a right to be angry at what previous generations have done to their heritage); also indigenous peoples who exist in harmony with nature, and who can only weep at both the overall consequences and for their altered way of life. There will be others like journalists who can help by discussing the facts and informing the public.
The ambitious four goals slated for the conference are … speeding up the energy transition to renewable energy (from undepletable sources like wind or solar), improving climate finance, a focus on people and their lives and livelihoods, and full inclusivity and accessibility for diverse constituencies as, for example, the disabled.
The success of it all will depend on maintaining cohesion after the fossil fuel producers and their affiliates downstream who generate millions of jobs come and say, Hey! Wait a minute. What about …