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Nurturing our Green Planet

It's time for nations to make a firm commitment to stall climate change by using renewable energy sources and reducing greenhouse gases or be prepared to face the consequences of scorching temperatures, hurricanes, droughts, floods and large-scale deaths

Nurturing our Green Planet

Sentinel Digital Desk

The goal of keeping the global average temperature rise to 1.5-degree centigrade above the pre-industrial level is detrimental to our survival. There cannot be an alternative to this scenario. "Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told delegates, urging them to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels.


It's time for nations to make a firm commitment to stall climate change by using renewable energy sources and reducing greenhouse gases or be prepared to face the consequences of scorching temperatures, hurricanes, droughts, floods and large-scale deaths

After a temporary lull amidst the din of war, inflation and energy crisis, climate change is back on the world's agenda. This time it comes with the forceful realisation that unless acted upon immediately, humanity is heading towards an existential disaster. A series of events during the last couple of months have made it amply clear, that without collective action and drastic behavioural change both at the macro and the micro level, it is next to impossible to meet the climate challenge.

The world gathers to discuss this pressing issue at COP27 conference in Egypt. UN secretary general in his opening remarks said, "We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator." Changes to Earth's climate propelled by human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases have already started showing widespread effects. Glaciers and ice sheets are shrinking, river and lake ice is breaking, plant and animal geographic ranges are shifting and the weather pattern is marred with erratic occurrences. The effects that scientists have predicted will result from climate change, is happening now.

So, there is no time to rest or look back. The Sharam El Sheikh COP 27 conference should serve as the place to reaffirm the commitment of countries towards the collective climate goals agreed under the Paris Agreement and convention. The goal of keeping the global average temperature rise to 1.5-degree centigrade above the pre-industrial level is detrimental to our survival. There cannot be an alternative to this scenario. "Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told delegates, urging them to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels.

The UNs' Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change said in its latest state-of-the-science report that the world has already warmed by 1.1 degrees above the pre-industrial levels, and is now hurtling fast toward 1.5 degrees. The impact of this change is here for all of us to see.

Iraq the cradle of civilization also known as the ancient marshland bears harrowing testimony to the ravages of climate change. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, consecutive years of record low rainfall and drought have led to farmers losing their incomes and livelihoods.

In East Africa, rainfall has been below average for four consecutive wet seasons, the longest in 40 years,as a result, an estimated 18.4 to 19.3 million people are faced with a food crisis. Agencies have warned that another below-average season will result in crop failure, further aggravatingthe food insecurity situations in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

The southern Africa region was battered by a series of cyclones for over two months, hitting Madagascar hardest. Hurricane Ian caused extensive damage and loss of life in Cuba and southwest Florida in September.

Large parts of the northern hemisphere remained hot and dry. China experienced the most extensive and long-lasting heatwave and the second-driest summer on record. The Yangtze River at Wuhan reached its lowest recorded level in the month of August.

Large parts of Europe sweltered in extreme heat. The United Kingdom on 19 July, set a new record withtemperature touchingmore than 40°C for the first time. This was accompanied by damaging drought and wildfires. European rivers including the Rhine, Loire and Danube fell to critically low levels.

Record breaking rain in July and August led to extensive flooding in Pakistan. There were at least 1700 deaths and 33 million people affected. 7.9 million people were displaced. The flooding came hard on the heels of an extreme heatwave in March and April in both India and Pakistan.

These instances have revived the call for climate reparation. Rich nations which have historically emitted more greenhouse gases are being asked to pay for the destruction caused by climate change impact. The Loss and Damage debate rests on the questions of fairness and equity.The rich polluters are not anywhere near as vulnerable as developing nations. In just nine months of 2022, extreme weather condition has caused more than 10,000 deaths and affected over 75 million people. Neither US nor the EU are the part of ten worst affected.

The issue of loss and damage is not a new one. It figured in the making of the climate agreement in 1990. It finally made it into the Paris agreement only what the affected countries agreed that this won't the basis for future "liability and compensation". This when environmental jurisprudence demands that the polluters should pay. The global politics that serve the interest of the rich, need to be addressed if we want parity in climate change action.

This year's COP27 conference has been christened the "Africa COP", not because the continent is playing host, but because it had to face some of the most devastating effects of climate change while having done the least to cause the crisis. All eyes are now set on the final negotiation and how far it has been able to address this issue. The tone of the final declaration will provide for a roadmap, as to what shape climate change mitigation will take place in the future.

The planet is all we have. But we are not its sole owners. We share it with our future generation. A herculean shift in attitude and method is required if we are to save our only home. There is no other choice. If things continue as it is now, we would very soon touch the tipping point wherefrom climate change becomes irreversible. The need to move towards a clean and renewable energy source has to be met with a personal commitment of each individual towards the environment.

It is human consumption that drives the need for energy. We need to find and adopt ways, to conserve and harness green energy. Limiting our wants is the first step. The consumerist philosophy that characterised modern life is a spent force. It's about time we adopt a narrative of conservation.

Although the future looks grim all is not lost. Resolve, commitment and an unshakable belief in human destiny inspire us to look for hope in the most unlikely of places. The ongoing Russian-Ukraine war is undoubtedly one of the most shameful chapters of contemporary history. But there is a silver lining. The head of the UN weather agency says the war "may be seen as a blessing" from a climate perspective because, faced with an increasing energy crisis, it is accelerating the development of and investment in green energies over the longer term.

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