Without commitment, the Paris Agreement remains in jeopardy

A new UN report on the global commitment to limit the climate crisis shows that countries are not doing enough to keep Earth’s temperature from rising to near catastrophic levels.

And delaying action will make it impossible to reach the desired temperature goals.

According to the UN, countries need to honor their commitments made in the 2015 Paris Agreement to abate climate change.

Considering a couple of scientific reports published in recent times, current measures will not keep global temperature increases within the 1.5-to-2-degree Celsius range.

It has been revealed that carbon dioxide levels reached 407.8 parts per million, a unit used to measure the level of a contaminant in the air.

At the current rate, temperatures are expected to rise 3.2 degrees Celsius by 2100.

Unsurprisingly, the emit majority of the world’s greenhouse gases is from the G20 nations. In fact, they account for 78per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions, but only five of the G20 member countries have set a date to reach net-zero emissions. Of those, only two have created legislation to enforce those goals.

Unfortunately, the US leads G20 in per-capita emissions. As is known, in early November, the Trump administration announced its formal withdrawal process from the Paris Climate Agreement, the first step in a year-long process to leave the landmark agreement to reduce emissions of planet-warming gases.

The US submitted formal notification of its withdrawal to the United Nations.

The withdrawal will take effect one year from delivery of the notification. It is a push that Trump administration is rolling back environmental regulations a top priority.

When it completes the withdrawal process in 2020, the US will be the first country in the world to walk away from the Paris Climate Accord.

What, therefore, should be done to the rest?

To start with, there’s a need for rapid transformational change to abate global warming now rather than later.

Countries need to go back to the drawing board and consider the current state of global warming with respect to their commitments to the Paris Agreement.

Particularly, to get Earth back on track to the 1.5-degree goal, countries must multiply their commitment level, or the level at which they pledge to reduce their emissions, five times the current rates outlined in the Paris accords.

That means global greenhouse gas emissions must fall at least 7.6 per cent every year to remove 32 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In other words, to stall off the potentially devastating effects of a changing climate, countries need now to take rapid and robust actions.

Though the G20 haven’t done enough with respect to their commitments, some progress has been made in the years since the Paris Agreement. For example, Six G20 member countries are projected to meet the commitments they made—which means they have room to raise the ceiling for carbon removal even higher.

Undoubtedly, climate change is reaching a defining moment of our time. Climate change devastating consequences are all over, inter alia, on the lands, on the seas and in the air.

Today, there’s a growing demand from the public to see those commitments to the Paris Agreement implemented. The difficult part is the reluctance to execute the changes in such a way that doesn’t disrupt society completely or the status quo.

Seemingly, if no action taken, the Earth is heading towards a global tipping point owing to the existential threat to anthropogenic emissions.

A global tipping point is a threshold when the planet’s systems go beyond the point of no return. 

Such an environmental havoc could lead to hothouse conditions that would make some areas on Earth uninhabitable.

The idea of a climate tipping point is not new, however. The concept was first introduced 20 years ago by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Back then, it was coined to signify such large-scale discontinuities would only come about when global warming exceeds 5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. And it’s worth stressing that climate crisis is upon us. And human emissions of greenhouse gas are the greatest cause of climate crisis. 

In spite of compounding devastating consequences, hope is not lost. Researchers have assuaged people’s concerns that mitigating greenhouse gas emissions could still slow down the accumulation of these climate impacts.

What is needed is urgent international action to cut emissions, abate sea level rise, and to keep global warming to 1.5 Celsius.

It’s time to give attention to the findings of scientists. The stability and resilience of our planet is in peril. Therefore, to save the lives of present and future generations lies with us. International action—by international organizations, individual countries, the private sector—is needed, not just words, and must be seen to be done. 

It would be naïve to say we have lost the battle against the climate crisis. Therefore, something can still be done to stave off climate change. Time is fast running out; thus, the English say must apply: ‘make hay while the sunshine’.

The writer is a law expert.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

Consider AlsoFurther Articles