We have been aware for some time now of the dire implication of climate change on humanity and that we are largely to blame.
The impact of our carbon pollution will result in more extreme weather leading to failing agriculture, greater food insecurity, more intense droughts and floods and increased water shortages the world over.
This will inevitably also lead to forced displacement of people, and an increase in conflicts.
But appreciating this imminent reality is apparently beyond US presidential candidate, Donald Trump. I revert to this shortly.
Last week, 375 of the world’s top scientists, including some 30 Nobel Prize winners, published an open letter regarding climate change emphasising humanity’s role in it.
In the same vein, the total number of countries ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change reached 60 at the 71st UN General Assembly in New York, just a day after the letter’s publication.
Ratification by the countries, which account for 47.7 per cent of emissions, was just over seven per cent shy of the threshold of 55 per cent that is required to bring into force the international pact.
Notably, the US – along with China, both the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitters – are among the countries which have signed the Agreement. Note that just 10 per cent of the world’s population are responsible for 50 per cent of emissions, while the poorest 50 per cent are responsible for only 10 per cent of emissions.
The least developed countries, most of them in Africa, constitute 11 per cent of the global population but the average carbon dioxide output across the continent is only 0.9 tonnes.
An average citizen in the US, with just 5 per cent of the world’s population, pollutes 17.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Laudably, therefore, US ratifying the climate change agreement was a rational decision to take action and manage the risks from climate change, which poses grave threat to our health, communities, and our economies everywhere on the planet.
But in comes the oafish Donald Trump, who wishes to scrap America’s environmental agreements if (God forbid) he becomes president. Note that the US’s significance in ratifying the climate change agreement not only lies in its acceptance of the reality as it is, but in its eminent global leadership.
When Hillary Clinton poked Trump that he thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese during the recent US presidential debate, he denied ever making the claim, even in the face of easily available evidence.
On November 6, 2012, he tweeted: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
As Peter Wehner, a former speechwriter and advisor to three Republican presidents acerbically noted in an opinion in The New York Times that Trump “has no desire to acquaint himself with most issues, let alone master them.
He has admitted that he doesn’t prepare for debates or study briefing books; he believes such things get in the way of a good performance. No major presidential candidate has ever been quite as disdainful of knowledge, as indifferent to facts, as untroubled by his benightedness.”
That about sums Trump’s danger to the world, not least the significance of the global pact and the US’s role in it: Its ratification unequivocally indicates acquiescence to a global tragedy long in the making, despite the country’s previous resistance on account of its economic interests.
Adopted by 195 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) last December in Paris, the Agreement calls on countries to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future, and to adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change.
In April this year, 175 world leaders signed the Paris Agreement, the most to ever sign a treaty on a single day.
When more countries ratify to attain the remaining 7 per cent to the threshold, it will trigger the operational provisions of the Agreement and accelerate efforts to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration of keeping it at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius.Follow https://twitter.com/gituram