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SIBONGILE MAPUTI | Global warming necessitates urgent and mandatory mitigation – SowetanLIVE

The Conference of Parties is slowly becoming nothing more than amateurisation of climate science. For 12 days signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held their annual meeting, otherwise known as the Conference of Parties (COP), in Egypt’s Sharp El Sheik.

The basis for the annual meetings was the realisation – as reported by scientists in the first climate conference in 1988 –  that planet Earth was becoming warmer, with global average temperatures recording a 1.5 to 2 degree rises than pre-industrial era.

It was conclusively found that the rise was as a result of human activities, that continues unabated to this day. The Kyoto Conference in 1992 identified the gases, that science characterised as greenhouse gases, for their effect in trapping heat within the atmosphere, leading among them was carbon dioxide emitted mostly through fossil fuels into the atmosphere. At this point it was still science; led by scientists.

Without any deviation into the physics of greenhouse gases, their effect is that they trap within the atmosphere, unneeded energy that is supposed to be radiated back into deep space, and therefore resulting in rise of surface air temperatures on earth. Over a period of time, this atmospheric happening resulted in a climatic phenomenon that became known in the 90s as  global warming – only to be countered through mitigation measures. Lack of action on global warming back then, led into climate change – a very disruptive phenomenon that no one can do anything about, but adapt to.

The 27th meeting in Sharm El Sheik, was a continuation of trying to find solutions to this problem of gigantic proportions our world faces. It seemed from social media bits that COP27 was nothing more than a blame game, characterised by mega egos and irrelevant discussions on liability from Parties.

There seems to be a cloud of confusion on many things at the COP conferences, and that has unfortunately reduced these meetings into celebrity events, whose only highlight is attendance Heads of States. 

Climate change is not a platform for flowery speeches and catchy phrases. It certainly is not a platform to defer hard decision into sometime into the future. Climate change is a science and should be approached as thus. 

While Global warming necessitates that mitigation be now and mandatory; climate change necessitates that adaptation happens even faster, and from yesterday. This necessitates that liability is allocated to developed nations. Discussion can happen on what would constitute equitable funding for the challenges ahead for poorer and the most affected as happened in Pakistan and South Africa and Nigeria this year. This surely is a peripheral issue.

The heatwaves that were experienced across Europe this summer, and the Pakistan floods, are a window into tomorrow’s reality; devastation is too much to contemplate.

We have a habitat but soon we will be without it. A day will come where life will virtually be impossible on planet earth. When that day comes, we will better remember that instead of acting on scientific advice, world leaders amateurised climate change science, and opted to defer solutions to sometime into the future. They opted for gala events graced by irrelevant attendees – a wrong solution to a burning-world problem.

• Maputi is a former journalist and an author

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