The Tussle on Fighting Climate Change: Are We Losing the Battle?
The impacts of climate change are being felt everywhere and are having real consequences on people lives. It is high time that the States to take effective measures to stop climate disruption and reverse its impact.
The past few weeks saw the debate around climate change take centre-stage with the School Strikes for Climate. The strikes scheduled on 20 and 27 September 2019 saw millions marching on streets around the world, asking world leaders to take efficient steps to counter climate change. The school strike for climate also known as Fridays for Future (FFF), Youth for Climate, Climate Strike and Youth Strike for Climate, is an international movement of school students who take their time off to participate in demonstrations to demand action to prevent further global warming and climate change.
In August 2018, Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg staged a protest outside the Swedish parliament, holding a sign that read ‘Skolstrejk for klimatet’ (School Strike for the Climate). On 15 March 2019, an estimated one million strikers gathered for a global strike. An estimated 2,200 strikes were organized in 125 countries. This was followed by another strike on 24 May 2019, in which 1,600 events across 150 countries drew hundreds of thousands of protestors. The 20th September protests were estimated to be the largest climate strike in world history. An estimated over 4 million people participated in the strikes. The second wave of protests on 27 September saw an estimated 2 million people taking part in 2,400 protests.
The protests were scheduled around the United Nations Climate Action Summit, which had been aimed at pushing all countries to do more to fight climate change. However, the summit does not seem to have met with much success, as many of the countries which are big emitters globally still did not commit to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s targets.
Climate Change a Reality?
The past decade has seen climate change emerge as a significant subject of discussion. And, rightfully so, the term climate change describes the complex shifts affecting our planet’s weather and climate systems, encompassing not only rising average temperatures but also extreme weather events, shifting wildlife populations and habitats and rising seas.
So why and how has climate change become such a grave challenge? This has to be answered by looking at the carbon emissions of the countries. The increased burning of fossils coupled with deforestation holds the key.
In the past few weeks, the world saw precious forests in Amazon burning down.
The silence of the countries and leaders has been anything but deafening. There is certainly no doubt that the catastrophic events that were associated with climate change are becoming a reality rapidly, much more rapidly than we thought or expected.
The UN climate summit is aimed at securing more ambitious commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions than those made in 2015 during the signing of the Paris climate agreement.
Despite the promises made at the Paris agreement, the fact remains that greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise, and the world’s second-largest carbon emitter, the USA, is actually aiming to withdraw from the Paris agreement.
An Unequal Balance
Climate change sees an unequal balance. Historically, it has been the wealthiest countries of the world that have emitted the most greenhouse gases. On the other hand, the poorer and less resourceful countries may be bearing the brunt of climate change the most. The reality is that regardless of who had been the major carbon emitter, the consequences have to be borne by all the countries of the world; and therefore, it demands actions from every country. While the developed countries may find the transition towards clean energy relatively easier, the emerging economies will take their place as a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. Over the years, a number of mechanisms have been created so that the progress in climate change initiatives in one country is not affected by the backtracking in other countries. The UN Green Climate Fund, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation programme (REDD+) and the Clean Development Mechanism are examples of some such initiatives.
Where Does India Stand?
When the topic of emissions is brought to the table for discussion, all eyes are set on the two most populous and rapidly growing countries: India and China. India’s performance on various parameters to arrest climate change has been rather good. According to Climate Action Tracker, India is one of the few countries in the world whose greenhouse gas goals are in line with the 2 degree Celsius warming limit in the Paris Agreement.
The Way Forward
Well, definitely it is imperative to leave a suitable climate and habitable world for future generations; it is completely essential. But is that being done? Sadly, this does not seem to be the case.
A look at the hate and ridicule that young climate activist is enough to sense the urgency of the matter.
It still needs to be seen how and what consequences the climate strike has for arresting the climate change and the catastrophe that is expected to follow. Greta Thunberg might be a polarizing figure and many see her views on climate change to be extreme, and in some cases, immensely problematic. However, the aspect of changing climate cannot be brushed under the carpet anymore. The world is witnessing irreversible ecological changes—sea levels are rising at unprecedented rates, cyclonic storms and earthquakes are becoming more frequent, and the earth’s average surface has steadily shot up over the past century.
The Climate Summit expected many corporations, banks, cities and even local governments announcing their own plans to fight climate change, mostly in the form of binding net-zero emissions targets, renewable energy deployments, divestments and clean energy financing. However, the fact remains that the real push to fight climate change needs to come from the heads of the states and that is something the world still needs to see.