The unprecedented surge in climate related disasters have led more than 13000 scientists from 153 countries to sign a declaration of climate emergency , according to an article published in September 2021 in a top class biological sciences journal. The call for such a severe action like declaration of climate emergency is justified by The Sixth Assessment Report ( AR6 ) of Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change ( IPCC), the climate science body of the United Nations ( UN ) which produces a climate report every seven years or so. The report has been described by British newspaper “The Guardian” as “its starkest warning yet” of “major inevitable and irreversible climate changes.” Antonio Guterres , the UN secretary general described the report as “A code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk”. The importance and urgency to deal with the climate change is also reflected in 2021 Nobel Prize for Physics which has been awarded to three scientists—Syukuro Manabe fromJapan , Klaus Hasselmann from Germany and Giorgio Parasi of Italy—-who laid the foundation for current climate models to understand the climate change and warned of disasters of climate change.The climate change related disasters include sea level rise , increase in global warming, melting Arctic , devastating flooding and cyclones, record shattering heat waves and wild fires . These disasters are believed to be caused by uncontrolled emission of green house gases(GHG)—- Carbon dioxide, Methane and Nitrous oxide which in Earth’s atmosphere block heat from escaping. This is known as greenhouse effect.These gases keep Earth warm.The increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere caused by burning fossil fuels such as coal , oil and gas change the natural greenhouse. These changes cause the atmosphere to trap more heat than it used to, leading to warmer Earth.The increase in global average temperature at the surface of the Earth in 2020 was 1.2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial period temperatures. The climate change is real and has been unequivocally driven by human activities, largely the release of polluting gases from burning fossil fuel. The Paris Agreement adopted in 2015 reaffirms the goal of limiting global temperature increase to well below 02 preferably to 1.5 degree Celsius above the preindustrial era temperatures . To prevent warming beyond 1.5° C, we need to reduce emissions by 7.6 % every year upto 2030. According to Sixth Assessment Report (AR6 )of Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC )2021 released on 09 August 2021, the global warming limit of 1.5 degree Celsius may be breached by 2040. This is because countries who have been signatories to Paris Agreement have failed to fulfill the promises . Call to Declaration of climate emergency by large number of scientists in September 2021 assumes importance given that 26th session of the Conference of the Parties ( COP26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC) is scheduled to take place from 31 October to 12 November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. COP, an apex decision making body of UNFCCC has 197 country members on its roll. Every year a meeting of country members is held which is known as Conference of Parties ( COP).
What Difficulties The Developing Nations Are Facing To Achieve Net Zero Emissions Target By 2050?
When the World is not adding new emissions to the atmosphere , it is known as ” Net-zero emissions”. The United Nation has set a target that emissions must fall by half by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050 to reach the 1.5 degree Celcius goal of Paris Agreement. The continued extreme adverse effects of global climate change have posed a serious threat to both the biosphere and humanity. But the devastations by climate change are more prominent and pronounced in developing countries and they are least able to afford the consequences.The multiple factors are responsible for their vulnerability to climate change that can limit their ability to prevent and respond to devastations caused by it .In 2009 , at the climate change Conference of Parties at Copenhagen a financial commitment of $ 100 billion per year by 2020 was made by developed countries to support developing countries in reducing green house gas emissions , building resilience to climate impacts and achieving the aim of net-zero carbon in future . This target of $100 billion was set to be upgraded before 2025. The modalities to provide finance from wide variety of sources—public and private, bilateral and multilateral, and alternative sources of finances are poorly defined . The proportions of financing from public and private sources are not specified and also it is not clear how different financial instruments like grants and loans should be counted. They have serious flaws so much so that developed countries exploit them to their benefits. For example the major proportion of climate finance provided by the developed countrie to developing countries comprises of loans and not the grants. The loans need to be repaid, with interest . There is no agreed system for measuring the quantum of climate change financing provided by the develoed countries to developing countries. With regard to pledge to mobilize US$ 100 , the fact remains that it has not been met.In his “Remarks to Pre-Cop26” on 30 September 2021 at Italy,UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that developed nations are lagging in their pledge to provide US $ 100 billion a year in climate funding for poor countries by 2020.
India , the biggest emitter of green house gases after US and China is also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. As part of its commitment to Paris Agreement , India plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35 % of its 2005 levels by 2030.
It is a known fact that climate change is largely because of the historic emissions from the developed rich nations over a long period of one and half century. Many of the developing and the underdeveloped countries were colonies of the developed wealthy countries. The colonies contributed appreciably to their wealth which enabled them to devise and develop technologies which in turn helped them achieving industrial revolution. The industries mostly got the raw material from the colonized countries and sold them the finished products. This disproportionately added to the wealth of developed countries.The colnies after getting independence continue to derive energy from fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas to sustain their economy. But unfortunately it turned out that fossil fuels burning contribute to climate change. UN keeps instructing them to reduce the use of fossil fuels and go for renewable energy. But it is just not possible for them to quickly switch over from fossil fuels to renewable energy because of financial constraints and lack of technology. At the same time it is not possible for developed countries to address climate change and make the transition to a cleaner and greener future without 152 developing countries representing some 6.5 billion people.
The bottom line is that developed countries owe a moral responsibility to revisit US $100 billion per year climate finance commitment and enhance the finance to appreciable level.Considering the gravity of the climate change issue there is an inevitable need to support developing countries in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in building resilience to climate impacts so that they achieve the target of net-zero carbon and ensure the safety of humanity in future.All the shortcomings , ambiguities and pitfalls in the commitment as mentioned above need to be removed.Recently India has underlined that the target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 should be based on the the principle of equity.
Hopefully , COP26 to UNFCCC scheduled in October- November 2021 at Glosgow would be a witness to new significant commitments to global climate change programme.
Dr. Aqueel Khan,
Former Professor and Head,
University Postgraduate Teaching Department of Biochemistry,
RTM Nagpur University,
Email: [email protected]