Climate change: still the world’s biggest crisis – Philstar.com
November 6, 2022 | 12:00am
The world today is facing several crises. There is raging inflation in all the economies of the world and it is becoming more apparent that next year, there will be a global recession. Beyond that, there is the threat of the deglobalization and a new period of stagflation. In terms of geopolitics, there is the ongoing Ukrainian invasion by Russia, the threat of an invasion of Taiwan by Xi Jinping, the reelection of an extremely rightist government in Israel which could re-ignite another violent confrontation in the Middle East. Recently, there has been increasing tension in the Korean Peninsula as North Korea increases the number of its missile tests.
These dramatic crises and conflicts have overshadowed what is actually the most critical problem confronting the world and its future. This is the worsening crisis brought about by global warming and climate change.
Today, Nov. 6, the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, most commonly referred to as conference of the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN FCCC) or Conference of the Parties (COP27), will be held in Egypt. This will be the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference. Last year, the 26th conference was held in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom.
This climate summit comes at a critical moment as world leaders are divided on how to confront the terrifying prospect of global warming. In the past year, our planet has been hit by record-breaking heat waves and storms in practically all sections of the planet. Deadly floods have also wrought historic destruction caused by unusually numerous typhoons and hurricanes. The Philippines was recently hit by Typhoon Paeng which caused numerous deaths and destruction caused by heavy rains.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has realized that the poorer countries need financing from richer nations if there is to be a transition to renewable energy in these poor countries. Guterres said, “If that pact does not take place, we will be doomed, because we need to reduce emissions both in the developed countries and emerging economies.” Last year, there was some optimism during the COP26 in Glasgow that the target of limiting the increase in global warming would be held to the targeted 1.5 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial temperatures. Since that summit, the result has been very disappointing. In the latest UN Emissions Gap Report, the finding is that a mere 0.5 tons have been shaved off last year’s 17- to 20-billion-ton gap, where the annual rate of carbon dioxide emissions would need to be in 2030 in order to offer a decent chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Centigrade.
According to the same report, most of the shavings come from the new Australian government’s more active climate policies. It states that if every national climate goal for the end of this decade was met, then the average global temperature would still rise by 2.4 degrees Centigrade by 2100. This is still way above the targeted 1.5 degrees Centigrade.
If the midcentury net zero pledges are met, it could mean an increase of just 1.8 degrees Centigrade of global warming. However, the UN report warns that this is “currently not credible.” According to their studies, real climate change action and not just promises still equate to 2.8 degrees Centigrade of global warming by the year 2100.
In order to avoid the more than 1.5 degrees Centigrade of global warming, greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 and then fall by 43 percent from 2019 levels by 2030.
Another report by an NGO – Systems Change Lab – is even more pessimistic. This organization is a conglomerate of environmental NGOs and think tanks which translated these reductions into 40 indicators, each with a 2030 target. In its 2022 report, it finds that not one of the indicators is targeted for the 1.5 degrees Centigrade. In fact, the report claims that some of the indicators are going in the opposite direction.
For example, the share of electricity generated by fossil fuels like natural gas burned without capturing the resulting carbon dioxide has actually risen in current years. Also, the amount of carbon dioxide generated by steel production has increased and food production is emitting more than it did five years ago.
As far as I am concerned, the worst news is that aside from Australia, none of the developed countries has met their target. The developing countries have also not met their targets because of lack of financing from the rich countries. The recent action of the Russians cutting off fuel supply to the rest of Europe and the OPEC decision to reduce oil production to keep prices high have led to countries going back to reopening of coal mines as an alternative.
The COP 27 climate summit in Egypt must confront these impending disasters in order to reverse the current global warming trends before these become irreversible.
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Write Things’ Zoom classes for November: Nov 19, 10:30 am-noon, last class for adult writers for the year with facilitator Dinah Roma on the art of poetry. Nov 26, 2-3 pm., Young Writers’ Hangout with returning facilitator Susan Lara. Contact [email protected]. 0945.2273216 Email: [email protected]