Recently, UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a stark warning report about catastrophic climate change by the year 2030.
The report, based on global scientific authority on climate change, more crucially, galvanizes action by governments around the world to take urgent, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society to avoid disastrous levels of global warming.
As the report revealed, the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.
Looking around the world, these disasters have become a natural phenomenon. They’re happening everywhere and people are often left in dire situations. Yet,the lifetime of many people alive today, is based on current levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
According to scientists, the planet is already two-thirds of the way there, with global temperatures having warmed about 1 degree C. To mitigate the likely environmental havoc, it requires significant action today rather than tomorrow.
Prof. Andrew King, a lecturer in climate science at the University of Melbourne, emphatically noted that “this is concerning because we know there are so many more problems if we exceed 1.5 degrees C global warming, including more heatwaves and hot summers, greater sea level rise, and, for many parts of the world, worse droughts and rainfall extremes”.
Surprisingly, even with the pledges made under the Paris Agreement, global temperatures could still rise by up to 3.4°C this century, forcing people to adapt to extreme new weather patterns.
Therefore, undivided attention must be put on lowering emissions to a very low level, which requires widespread changes in energy, industry, buildings, and transportation in cities.
This approach comports well with the goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change, where it was agreed to keep global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
It also calls for efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The report has, alarmingly, projected that the climate change will have largest impacts on economic growth should global warming increase.
For the global environmental agenda to be achieved, the role of non-state and subnational actors—such as cities, regions, districts/states, companies, investors, foundations, and civil society organisations—must not be passed over. They can play a fundamental role in turning things around. There must be interaction and collaboration between governments and non-state actors.
More crucially is the importance of government support for non-state action, and the need for non-state actors to follow good practices such as clear target setting and better reporting and monitoring.
Indeed, non-state and subnational actors have the opportunity both to be part of implementing mitigation commitments made at national level and to go beyond current pledges and raises ambitions.
To begin, there’s a need to be fully mobilised to be supportive of these commitments. Non-state and subnational actors provide important contributions to climate action beyond their quantified emission reductions. They build confidence in governments concerning climate policy and push for more ambitious national goals.
They provide space for experimentation or act as catalysts in coordination with national governments for climate policy implementation. Initiatives and actors also incentivise, support and inspire additional climate action by exchanging knowledge and good practices, by engaging in advocacy and policy dialogue, by assisting in formulating action plans, and by rewarding and recognising climate action.
Quite obviously, the issue of volatile climate change is a defining moment of our time. But, can the laws of chemistry and physics be possible to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius?
In my view, the answer is No. International cooperation is absolutely imperative to limit emissions and therefore global warming and its impacts, as well as coordinating effective and widespread adaptation and mitigation.
The world, of course, is at different stages of development and some are more conceptual than others in terms of tackling climate change. Nonetheless, there’s a need for considerable political engagement globally to reduce the amount of carbon being emitted.
It is noteworthy that at global level there’s lack of meaningful cooperation, particularly given the Trump administration’s controversial stance on this issue. The United States was initially in the agreement, but President Donald Trump pulled the country out a year and half later, claiming it was unfair to the country.
Renewable energy is regarded as one of the primary technology solutions to combat climate change, caused undoubtedly by continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels since the industrial revolution.
Yet the development and commercialisation of renewable energy technologies have faced a number of significant barriers in recent times. These may be regarded as: regulatory and policy risk; uncertainty about whether governments should support renewable energy technologies, as a complementary measure, where they have imposed a carbon price mechanism; concerns about energy security and the ability of renewable to provide baseload power and barriers to entry on conventional electricity grids; and ongoing subsidies, both direct and indirect, to the fossil fuel industry.
Renewable energy generation is key for the attainment of sustainable development and climate stabilisation.
The writer is a lawyer.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.