Sunshine and cloudsCountries need to make renewable energy their priority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
When the world leaders were signing the decisive climate agreement in Paris, world’s biggest polluters China and India along with other countries were witnessing signs of global warming and climate change. When the negotiation on climate change was in progress, Beijing issued its first ever red alert for city dwellers to be confined inside their houses after pollution level suddenly rose high. Schools were closed, streets looked deserted and industries remained closed in the capital of the world’s fastest growing economy. If greenhouse gas emissions go unchecked, then this could be a reality for all the countries in the world.
Similarly, the southern Indian city of Chennai recently witnessed a heavy downpour which some experts are claiming to be an impact of climate change. Meanwhile in the Indian capital, the federal government has outlined a plan to impose an even-odd number plate formula for plying of private vehicles to contain pollution, as due to worsening pollution level, hospitals in Delhi reported 40 to 50 percent increase of patients with respiratory disorders. According to the European Environment Agency, nine out of ten European city dwellers are exposed to pollution in excess of the World Health Organisation’s safe limit. In Europe alone, more than 400,000 people die prematurely each year because of air pollution.
Nepal, which lies between the worst emitters of greenhouse gases—China and India—has already started to witness the impacts of climate change. Only recently the government and non-governmental agencies were working to install an early warning system in Tsho Rolpa Lake to mitigate the risks of potential glacial lake outburst floods which could threaten the settlements downstream. Being a small mountainous country, Nepal bears the brunt of climate change and global warming. Snow in the Himalayas have already started to melt while droughts and flooding have been occurring more frequently than before.
Even though a Nepali official delegation attended the global climate talks in Paris, they failed to submit the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) on time: a statement from each country of their voluntary mitigation and adaptation measures. Nepal lost an opportunity to apprise the donors that the country is working to combat climate change on its own and needs adequate financial and technical support for mitigation and adaptation. During Madhav Kumar Nepal’s tenure as prime minister, his government at least tried to highlight the danger that global warming poses to glaciers by holding a Cabinet meeting at the base-camp of Mount Everest. By contrast, the current lame duck government and its bicycle-riding environment minister did not even submit the INDC paper on such an important platform. Nepal could have used the Paris conference as an opportunity to highlight the adverse impact of climate change on its Himalayas.
Paris agreement on climate change was successful in averting the situation like in the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, where due to the bickering of the developing and developed countries, an agreement on climate change could not be drawn. Against this background, the Paris agreement has produced a substantial agreement. The French president and foreign minister deserve applause, as even during such difficult times for their country, they facilitated the decisive agreement.
Even though the key objective of the Paris agreement is to contain global temperature within 2 degrees Celsius and to endeavor to limit it to 1.5 degree Celsius, unless rich countries give up their extravagant lifestyle, it is a tall dream to achieve. Provision of $100 billion by 2020 to help developing countries in mitigation and adaptation practices to counter climate change is praiseworthy, but there should be clear guidelines as to how to access the fund. Although the Paris agreement on climate change is durable and dynamic, it has fallen short on being fully fair and responsive to the future needs as it is not legally binding.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, developed and developing countries need to make renewable energy their priority. The Paris agreement should be enforced by world governing bodies such as the United Nations. Those who fail to abide by the agreement should be punished. Fossil fuels are still largely used all over the world to meet energy demands and that needs to stop. Deve-loped and developing countries should invest more on renewable energy like solar, wind and hydropower. The late and great Japanese economist, Shigeto Tsuru, was critical of economic growth at environmental costs and labeled GDP as ‘gross domestic pollution’. Therefore, it is high time to curb pollution and make the world safe to live for generations to come. Time has come for action, but countries appear to be paying lip service only.
Kainee is associated with Global Hope Network International