Climate change taken seriously by the world and the U.S. – Monroe Evening News
Scientists, writers and environmental activists have been sounding a changing climate alert since 1997. Now, finally, world leaders are listening to the climate crisis alarm indicating that global warming is more harmful to life than the recent pandemic. As an imminent threat, COVID-19’s deadly impact demanded collaboration. “The global response to COVID-19 proves that we can rise to an emergency when the will is there” was a recent statement of David Wallace-Willis, author of “The Uninhabitable Earth.” International willpower led to global collaboration which lessened the pandemic’s deadly impact.
The climate threat is even harder to accept as real because its effects are not experienced simultaneously around the world. Since 1993, the United Nations has warned of this issue, especially during its annual conference on the climate crisis, but was often ignored. That has begun to change due to obvious huge environmental disasters. During the 2021 U.N. Conference on Climate Change (COP 26), many nations finally agreed, based on scientific studies, to reduce greenhouse emissions in half by mid-century keeping the 1.5 C degrees increase within reach and to protect communities and natural habitats. Global cooperation was pledged. To learn more of the scientific research visit the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at www.ipcc.ch.
COP 27, held in Egypt recently from Nov. 6-18, included 90 heads of states, 200 nations and 35,000 delegates, civil society representatives, plus many concerned young people. COP 27 goals were to help developing nations phase out fossil fuels and to transition to renewable resources. Tension rose when the poorer countries, especially island and African nations, suffering the most climate change wanted the loss and damage matter to be placed on the formal agenda. These nations are not big carbon pollution producers, but countries like the U.S. are and have been polluting the environment by burning fossil fuels for two hundred years. For the first time the vulnerable nations spoke in unity demanding help with irreversible loss and damage due to hurricanes, droughts and floods, and they were finally heard.
The negotiations were tense over the last days of the two-week conference. John Kerry, U.S. special climate envoy, had stated that our country would not compensate others for the climate-related disasters. The European Union and vocal developing countries had other ideas and pushed the U.S. to change its stance. They advanced a variety of plans to establish a new a fund. The pressure mounted as days and hours slipped by.
Many young people attending the conference swelled the civil society representative numbers unlike Greta Thunberg, the well-known, 19-year-old-Swedish activist, who did not attend because she thought it would just be “more blah, blah, blah.” The young allied with civil society representatives and joined with the vulnerable nations in pressing and demonstrating for justice. Together, they pursued the loss and damage issue.
Nakeeyat Dramani, a 10-year-old Ghanaian activist, on that last Friday spoke as a representative of the vulnerable countries. She said poignantly that the world leaders, including Mr. Kerry had been really nice to her, but she said kindness would not solve the math on climate change — big polluters owed her country and others. Ghana had contributed only a smidgen to greenhouse gas admissions. She ended with: ”When can you pay us back? Because the payment is overdue?”
On Sunday, Nov. 19, as the meeting was in overtime a break-through occurred. The European Union and the developing countries tentatively agreed on the establishment of a fund to help vulnerable, disaster-stricken nations cope with climate change. The U.S., while opposed to climate compensation, had finally agreed on Saturday to join the loss and damage fund viewing it as a new approach.
Historic action was taken through the funding agreement for loss and damage, thereby addressing the needs of the most vulnerable countries in mitigating climate caused devastation. This is a big collaborative step in avoiding environmental planetary catastrophe.
Sister Janet Ryan, IHM, is a member of Stronger Together Huddle, a group engaged in supporting and promoting the common good of all. She resides in Monroe and can be reached email@example.com