All the tools for tack­ling cli­mate is­sue are at hand

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE -

Cli­mate change is the defin­ing global chal­lenge of our time. It is real, and it is hap­pen­ing now.

The past three years have been the warm­est on record — one of many signs of cli­mate change, which poses ex­cep­tional chal­lenges on a global scale. More wor­ri­some, cli­mate change is run­ning faster than our ac­tions to stop the cur­rent global warm­ing tra­jec­tory of 3 C.

The re­cent Spe­cial Re­port by the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change con­firms that nat­u­ral dis­as­ters will in­crease in fre­quency and sever­ity, in­clud­ing floods and storms, with re­sult­ing de­clines in food se­cu­rity and pros­per­ity.

Com­pe­ti­tion over scarce re­sources — such as wa­ter — could lead to more con­flicts. Around the world, we can al­ready see how dev­as­tat­ing such sit­u­a­tions can be.

For ex­am­ple, on a re­cent visit to Nige­ria, my home coun­try, I saw first­hand the im­pact that cli­mate change and en­vi­ron­men­tal mis­man­age­ment can have. Lake Chad, the beat­ing heart of life in the re­gion I grew up in, has shrunk by more than 90 per­cent since the 1960s, lead­ing to in­creased com­pe­ti­tion over scarce re­sources. As a re­sult, the econ­omy has suf­fered, lead­ing to mas­sive de­clines in liveli­hoods. This has, in turn, helped cre­ate a fer­tile ground for ex­trem­ist groups such as Boko Haram.

The vi­o­lence caused by such con­flicts hits the most vul­ner­a­ble the hard­est. Com­mu­ni­ties in the re­gion have had to deal with po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges for years. Without ac­cel­er­ated cli­mate ac­tion, we will see in­creases in the num­ber and in­ten­sity of such con­flicts.

This brings us to an­other point, which is that we will need in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions for cli­mate ac­tion at all lev­els — in uni­ver­si­ties, homes, cities and busi­nesses.

The good news is that we are not start­ing from scratch. We have all the mech­a­nisms we need to tackle cli­mate change.

Na­tions of the world pledged to col­lec­tively ad­dress cli­mate change in the early 1990s through the es­tab­lish­ment of the UN Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change and, most re­cently, through the sign­ing of the Paris Agree­ment and the 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment, Goals 13 to 15.

By sign­ing the Cli­mate Con­ven­tion and the Paris Agree­ment, na­tions of the world com­mit­ted to low­er­ing their emis­sions and cre­at­ing a more sus­tain­able and re­silient fu­ture through Na­tion­ally De­ter­mined Con­tri­bu­tions.

The po­ten­tial of the Paris Agree­ment, how­ever, has yet to be fully un­leashed by im­ple­ment­ing the NDCs.

Based on the emis­sions re­duc­tions that coun­tries have pledged so far, we are still on a tra­jec­tory to reach at least 3 C of global warm­ing. And that would lead to noth­ing less than global desta­bi­liza­tion, with dis­as­trous and ir­re­versible con­se­quences.

China is not ex­empt from the im­pacts of cli­mate change.

Ris­ing sea lev­els are al­ready threat­en­ing coast­lines in China, for ex­am­ple in cities such as Shang­hai, Tian­jin and Guangzhou. If sea lev­els rise by 1 me­ter, more than 92,000 square kilo­me­ters of China’s coast could be flooded. This could po­ten­tially dis­place 67 mil­lion peo­ple. Al­most two-thirds of the ice in Asia’s glaciers could van­ish if av­er­age global tem­per­a­tures rise be­yond 1.5 C by the end of the cen­tury.

The good news is that coun­tries such as China are clearly on board for strong lead­er­ship. For ex­am­ple, within the past five years, China has de­ployed more so­lar and wind ca­pac­ity than any other coun­try in the world. It is also the largest clean en­ergy in­vestor in the world — spend­ing some $130 bil­lion on re­new­able en­ergy in re­cent years.

The de­vel­op­ment of elec­tric ve­hi­cles is par­tic­u­larly in­spir­ing in China. More than 50 per­cent of elec­tric ve­hi­cles in the world are sold in the coun­try. China is also sup­port­ing in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment in other coun­tries. This of­fers the op­por­tu­nity to leapfrog out­dated tech­nolo­gies and en­sure that newly built in­fra­struc­ture is sus­tain­able in the long term.

China has also pi­o­neered an in­creas­ingly prom­i­nent pol­icy through pro­mot­ing a model of the cir­cu­lar econ­omy, go­ing be­yond the cur­rent lin­ear pat­tern of take-make-dis­pose.

In con­clu­sion, there is no more ur­gent time to solve cli­mate change, and we have all the tools we need to cre­ate a new real­ity. In par­tic­u­lar, I call on all young peo­ple to take a stand and ad­vo­cate for more am­bi­tious cli­mate ac­tion and sus­tain­able liv­ing. Let us join hands and use this as an op­por­tu­nity to strive for a healthy, pros­per­ous and sus­tain­able fu­ture for all.

Within the past five years, China has de­ployed more so­lar and wind ca­pac­ity than any other coun­try in the world.

deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the United Na­tions Amina J. Mo­hammed,

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.