Climate Change: Beyond High Level Meetings & Speeches

Climate change, Global warming, United Nations  and climate change, President Obama and climate changePresident Barack Obama on his recent trip to Alaska, U.S., accounted that “climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it. We need to act fast enough as we are not doing so at the moment – As the climate warms, glaciers are shrinking more and more rapidly — and throughout the park, there are signs marking where the glacier line used to be. Since 1979, the summer sea ice in the Arctic has decreased by more than 40%, a decrease that has dramatically accelerated over the past two decades. And it’s one of the reasons why sea levels rose by about eight inches over the last century, and why they’re projected to rise another one to four feet this century.”

According to World Meteorological Organisation, the current El Nino could be among the strongest on record, resulting into parts of Pacific Ocean having unusual temperatures above 2 degrees Celsius. On 8th September, 2015, National Weather Service declares that new recorded temperature at LaGuardia rises to 95°, the highest since 1945; Central Park temperature rises to 97°, the highest since 1919; and Newark with 98°, the highest since 1939.

On 7th September, 2015, as announced by UNFCCC, the number of submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs) to stop global climate temperatures from rising above 2oC reaches 59 with Colombia being the latest country on the list. Not all submitted INDCs aim to cut earth temperatures below 2oC, Australia commits 26%-28% cut in emissions which will leave the earth at temperatures of 3-4oC if other countries follow suit. While Canada, Japan, Russia, and Australia are unbothered about cutting emissions, companies making huge fortunes from investment in fossil fuels are taking courageous step by divesting from it, French company, Total sold off its coal mine in South Africa. World’s largest coal port, Newcastle city council in Australia divest from fossil fuels.

At this junction, it will not be too much of a question to ask if the world is really making progress to curb climate change; if it is possible to cut emissions below 2oC. An insight into the United Nationals Environmental Gap Report released on 28th August, 2015 on assessment of mitigation effects of the submitted intended National Determined Contributions to UNFCCC, “despite contributions, global emissions in 2030 will most likely be approximately 14 gigatonnes above 2030 emission level that would be consistent with keeping international community on track to meet 2oC.” The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christian Figueres in an interview during the second round of negotiations on climate change in Bonn, Germany stated that “even when we have 100% of INDCs they themselves will not deliver 2oC… If you ask me exactly how are they going to get from here to Paris that is never foreseeable.”  Bill Hare of Climate Analytics also said – “It is clear that if the Paris meeting locks in present climate commitments for 2030, holding warming below 2˚C could essentially become infeasible, and 1.5˚C  beyond reach.”

With all the revelations stated above, is the world not being over ambitious on the 2oC target? Mission impossible! Dear earth, it seems we cannot save you from ourselves. We actually wish to avert further disasters, but how can we?

In the course of my compiling this article, I stumbled on an article which changes everything for me, nonfiction, written by an official of Asian Development Bank Sohail Hasne; a story with happy ending.

Excerpt from My small victory on energy efficiency in the Philippines: “In 2008 at Philippines energy summit in 2008, Sohail Hasne suggested the replacement of Incandescent bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamps in order to achieve energy efficiency and for Philippines power sector to meet rising demand of energy supply. The incandescent bulbs utilises only 10% of electricity they consume to generate light and waste the rest on generating unnecessary heat. With the support of late former energy secretary Angelo Reyes, former president Gloria Arroyo was persuaded to assist in phasing out incandescent bulbs. Asian Development Bank finances $46 million project to distribute compact fluorescent light bulbs and change street lights to LEDs. It eventually happened, incandescent bulbs were cut from 180 million units a year in 2007 to almost zero this year. Not only were the incandescent bulbs phased out, in 2009 it saves 200mw.”

The article of Mr Sohail Hasne was it for me; it clears the question on what next after United Nations climate change conference in Paris? The real business of curbing climate change goes beyond submission of INDCs, we have to battle to save the earth, individuals have to take it upon themselves to curb climate change, a liberation of the earth just like the story of a courageous man Nelson Mandela which liberated South Africans from Apartheid, the force led by Mahatma Gandhi in liberating Indians, the courageous and visionary story of late founder of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew elevating Singapore to first world country from third world country. We have to take upon ourselves to liberate the earth, liberate the earth from total ruin caused by climate change.

And the good news is that it is already happening. Individuals will take it upon themselves to save the earth. Climate heroes will arise. From the News I read via climate hour on 8th September, 2015 compiled by Stefan Armbruster: 16 leaders gathers at the Pacific Island Forum in Port Moresby this week, on top of their agenda is summoning Prime Minister Tony Abbott as Australia’s and New Zealand’s inaction to climate change poses as a threat to the survival of pacific islands.

Beyond Paris conference, sustainable approach to cut emissions has to be engaged, legal actions against organisations and countries violating measures to keep the earth temperatures below 20C should be more supported, adaption to defend the earth on the impacts of climate change already manifesting tailored to suit every country needs should be engage to avert further disasters.

Another innovative means of tackling climate change is integrating energy efficiency across all sectors of investments. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme in Istanbul Turkey is hosting a conference on “Building a Global Energy Efficiency Financing Alliance,” an initiative spearheaded by EBRD by providing funds to curb climate change through energy efficiency.

Lastly, if the world really means business on tackling climate change, a price has to be fixed on emissions by taxing CO2 emissions; a good case study is Sweden which put a price on carbon to cut consumption of fossil fuels.

Photo credit:developmentdiaries

Written by Safriat Yussuf

Safriat Yussuf

Safriat Yussuff is a Construction Technologist by profession, writer and an advocate by passion, she volunteers with Slum to School Africa, a task force member of the Rabat-Conakry commitment, and a Climate Tracker for the adopt a negotiator programme who blogs on foreign policy, politics, and current affairs from her twitter handle(@saymamaa).

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About Safriat Yussuf

Safriat Yussuff is a Construction Technologist by profession, writer and an advocate by passion, she volunteers with Slum to School Africa, a task force member of the Rabat-Conakry commitment, and a Climate Tracker for the adopt a negotiator programme who blogs on foreign policy, politics, and current affairs from her twitter handle(@saymamaa).

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