UNEP findings 'bleak'

Kashmir Times. Dated: 11/29/2019 11:28:18 PM

The Emission Gap Report is serious reflection on how little has been done to contain climate change

"The summary findings are bleak", says the 10th United Nations Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report that was released on Tuesday. The annual report also compares the direction in which the global Green House Gas (GHG) emissions are headed to and where they need to be if the planet is to avoid the worst scenarios in the future. The report also points out that the global emissions have been increasing by about 1.5 percent per annum during the past one decade, which are alarmingly high compared to the previous decades in the 21st century and the period before. This means that the temperature has increased by nearly 4 degrees Celsius by the end of this century which can translate to 'wide ranging and destructive climate impacts' in the years to come. Even if all emissions promises by countries are met, the world will still be warmer by more than double the 1.5 degree-target in another eight decades. Many countries across the world can testify to the bleakness that has set in on the issue. Just this month, the regional council in Italy's Veneto region, which includes Venice, reportedly rejected policy amendments that were being introduced to tackle climate change. The same day, the council's chamber was inundated by flood waters, a member, Andrea Zanoni, revealed in a Facebook post and other social media platforms. The symbolism would not be lost on countries across the world. California and Australia were ravaged by major wildfires and bushfires a few months ago. Such massive fires have become so rampant that, internationally, countries have started competing for plane and helicopter contracts to douse forest fires. The European Union has developed a reserve fund this year for firefighting aircraft with contracts that allow deployments across international borders. Last month, a study published in a science journal warned that the number of people inhabiting low-lying regions that will flood annually - as the world heats up and ocean levels rise - is three times higher than was previously thought. At least 300 million people worldwide will be at risk in another 30 years.
It is also important to note that rising sea levels have already threatened some of the island nations across the globe in the past two decades. The new scientific studies have also focused on some of the areas that have been submerged due to rise in sea level at various places. The new findings also provide evidence that recurrence of such a scenario in the future is at the doorstep of the world. In this backdrop, the findings of the emissions report are yet another stark warning and a serious indictment of how little has been done to contain climate change. Fifteen of the 20 wealthiest nations have no timeframe for net zero target GHG emissions. Just three countries, India, Russia and Turkey, are on track to achieving their emissions plans. However, the UNEP report notes, this is because the targets they set for themselves under the Paris Agreement were too low to begin with. The role of the US, particularly, assumes significance. It has started the process to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, while, reportedly, its energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have seen a sharp spike in 2018 under President Donald Trump. This has happened after previous years of gradual decline. The reports on GHG emissions from other developed countries are not that promising. Some of the wealthy countries have refused to acknowledge that fact that GHG emissions are contributing in a big way in changing the impacts of the climate change. One silver lining, as the report notes: Climate protests by young people, particularly the teenagers, who are making it an issue beyond politics, in their efforts to secure a better future for all.



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