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Time to Take (Climate) Action

It is said that if you want to understand anyone’s true intentions, your focus shouldn’t be on their words, but on their actions. Each year the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change) organizes a Conference of Parties (COP) to discuss the roadmap for climate change prevention with all the nations of the world. Whether the effort will bear fruit remains to be seen.

To recap, at COP21 in Paris in 2015, a single agreement uniting the entire world in an effort to tackle climate change came to life. Its goals are:

  • To keep global temperatures well below 2°C above pre-industrial times and limit them even more, to 1.5°C
  • To limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil, and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between the year 2050 and 2100
  • To review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge
  • For rich countries to help poorer nations by providing “climate finance” to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.

This blueprint needed to be followed up with action points – breaking down what every country needs to do in order to prevent rise in global temperature and curb carbon emission. This is what COP22, held in Marrakech, Morocco, was all about. Or at least it was supposed to be.

Termed the implementation COP, the 22nd Conference of Parties seemed to revolve around the election of American President Trump to power. Given his position on the issue, everyone wondered what his pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement would mean for the rest of the nations. Nonetheless, the nations continued to ‘stand united’, the overarching sentiment being that the agreement is bigger than any one nation.

Cut to the recently concluded COP23, in Bonn, Germany. Both India and the US shared their Country Statements on the penultimate day of the conference, reinforcing their stance. German President Angela Merkel said that the historic climate agreement must remain ‘irreversible’, although she’s yet to answer when Germany will fully exit coal.

On one hand, it is being said that the US exit from the Paris Agreement is not going to impact global policy on renewable energy. On another, it is believed that ‘without an ambitious commitment from the US, the Paris Agreement will neither be equitable nor ambitious.’

While nations make up their minds on whether the US has a significant role to play or not, climate change continues. Action to prevent climate change is being taken, no doubt. However, its intensity will suffer, if words from world leaders are anything to go by.

Getting down to brass tacks, the gradual push towards renewable energy now needs to be expedited. Effective policy changes, costs agreeable to renewable project developers, and government subsidies are the way to go. All our efforts towards preventing climate change have to eventually come down to these things.

We shouldn’t focus on words. It is called Climate ‘Action’, after all.

Contributed by HFE Team.

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