We’ve sleep­walked be­yond the point of no re­turn: UN chief

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Front Page - Jayashree Nandi let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com ■

NEWDELHI:The United Na­tions Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence (COP25) opened in Madrid on Mon­day with the largest sci­en­tific com­mu­nity on cli­mate sci­ence warn­ing that the planet’s abil­ity to adapt to and cope with how it is be­ing treated is fray­ing and that the im­pact of the cli­mate cri­sis is far more sig­nif­i­cant than pre­vi­ously es­ti­mated.

UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, An­to­nio Guter­res and the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change’s chair, Hoe­sung Lee em­pha­sised the moral obli­ga­tion of ma­jor pol­luters to de­liver on the 2015 Paris Agree­ment goals.

“Our three special re­ports on warm­ing of 1.5°C, cli­mate change and land, and the ocean and cryosphere in a chang­ing cli­mate (pub­lished ear­lier this year) in­di­cated that the im­pacts of cur­rent warm­ing are much more se­vere than pre­vi­ously un­der­stood: e.g. ac­cel­er­at­ing sea level rise and ocean warm­ing, some key ecosys­tems be­com­ing much more vul­ner­a­ble, and in­creas­ing risks of reach­ing lim­its to adap­ta­tion,” Lee said in his open­ing re­marks.

Im­me­di­ate re­duc­tions would generate op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­vest­ment in in­no­va­tion and tech­nolo­gies for higher pro­duc­tiv­ity in en­ergy and re­source use, he said while un­der­lin­ing that fail­ure to achieve im­me­di­ate emis­sion re­duc­tions would mean “stranded as­sets, the legacy of ’busi­ness as usual’ in­vest­ment.”

Guter­res warned that the fail­ure to draft rules on Ar­ti­cle 6 — this al­lows for a le­gal frame­work to al­low use of mar­ket based cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion mech­a­nism — at COP25 will “risk frag­ment­ing car­bon mar­kets”.

“Ar­ti­cle 6 [of the Paris agree­ment] was the out­stand­ing is­sue not re­solved at Ka­tow­ice and to put a price on car­bon is vi­tal.”

“By the end of the com­ing decade we will be on one of two paths, one of which is sleep­walk­ing past the point of no re­turn,” Guter­res said in his open­ing ad­dress. “The last five years have been the hottest ever recorded... Ice caps are melt­ing. In Green­land alone, 179 bil­lion tonnes of ice melted in July. Per­mafrost in the Arc­tic is thaw­ing 70 years ahead of pro­jec­tions. Antarc­tica is melt­ing three times as fast as a decade ago. Ocean lev­els are ris­ing quicker than ex­pected, put­ting some of our big­gest and most eco­nom­i­cally im­por­tant cities at risk. More than two-thirds of the world’s megac­i­ties are lo­cated by the sea,” he added.

Speaker of the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Nancy Pelosi who at­tended the open­ing, said the US will be a part of the Paris Agree­ment and the move­ment to bring down global car­bon emis­sions, although by it­self, her com­ment means noth­ing.

“We’re here to say to all of you, on be­half of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the Congress of the United States, we’re still in it, we’re still in it… This is a mis­sion, this is a pas­sion and this is a sci­en­tif­i­cally based ap­proach,” she said. Pelosi was lead­ing a del­e­ga­tion of 14 other con­gres­sional Democrats and spoke at a fo­rum of lead­ers of vul­ner­a­ble na­tions which in­cluded Bangladesh PM, Sheikh Hasina and Costa Rica pres­i­dent Car­los Al­varado Que­sada. Her com­ments come even as the US house Con­gres­sional com­mit­tee has started re­view­ing an im­peach­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion against Pres­i­dent Donald Trump. Trump an­nounced in 2017 that US would with­draw from the Paris Agree­ment.

“Today, most heads of states, from Ar­gentina to Bangladesh, and the Euro­pean Union to Hon­duras spoke about the im­pact the ecosys­tem and the so­cial sys­tem is fac­ing, and the im­por­tance of mov­ing to­gether and faster to fight the cli­mate cri­sis. About 25 prime min­is­ters and pres­i­dents present also spoke of their com­mit­ments to long term strate­gies — mean­ing turn­ing car­bon neu­tral by 2050 — yet it re­mains clear that po­lit­i­cal will is want­ing” said Aarti Khosla, di­rec­tor of Del­hibased Cli­mate Trends, a cli­mate com­mu­ni­ca­tions or­gan­i­sa­tion.

In­dia, which is high­light­ing sus­tain­able liv­ing at its COP25 pavil­lion, will em­pha­sise that de­vel­oped coun­tries take lead in un­der­tak­ing am­bi­tious ac­tions and ful­fil their cli­mate fi­nance com­mit­ments of mo­bil­is­ing $100 bil­lion per an­num by 2020 and pro­gres­sively and scale up their fi­nan­cial sup­port for fu­ture ac­tion through NDCs, a se­nior en­vi­ron­ment min­istry of­fi­cial, who did not wish to be iden­ti­fied, said.

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