Climate change for many is not a subject of grave concern. They believe they have no role in arresting climate change. But for a few, the subject of climate change is the most important issue of our times. They are passionately interested, want to learn everything they can, and are motivated to reduce their own carbon footprint.
Evidence everywhere points to climate changing for the worse. Every year, for the past 20 years, we have been told that we are living in the hottest year on record. But the problem with climate change is that it is very large and complicated and as individuals we seem quite small against it, so it is easy for people to feel disempowered.
However, we are clearly running out of time and we are at an inflection point when everyone one of us need to do our bit. It is time for decisions to be made, it is time to understand that the consequences of the past need not hold us back and that we can intentionally and decisively redefine the future.
Only in the past few decades have scientists begun measurements necessary to establish a relationship between current carbon levels and temperatures, and the science conducted since then has consistently pointed in one direction: that rising greenhouse gas emissions, arising from our use of fossil fuels and our industries, lead to higher temperatures.
Climate change has become the defining issue for the 21st century. According to WHO estimates, climate change is already causing tens of thousands of deaths every year — from shifting patterns of disease, from extreme weather events, such as heat-waves and floods, and from the degradation of air quality, food and water supplies, and sanitation.
There are enormous health benefits countries can achieve by reducing emissions of climate pollutants, for example through better management of transport, and implementing innovative energy policies, we can cut the very large disease burden from air pollution and greenhouse gas build-up. Air pollution alone is now estimated to cause approximately one in every eight deaths globally.
In 2015, at the COP21 summit in Paris, in a historic first, the governments of 196 nations unanimously decided that the best course of action was to reverse the impending climate catastrophe. That set the tone for nations around the world to cut their emissions to nationally agreed upon levels.
At the COP24 summit to be held in Katowice in Poland from 2 to 14 December the top priority will be the finalisation of the Paris Agreement Work Programme to compel governments to cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow the pace of global warming. The aim is for the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement in the form of the Katowice Rulebook — a comprehensive package of balance rules bringing the agreement fully in force.
The COP24 Summit in 2018 is particularly crucial because this is the year when the signatories agreed upon to adopt a work programme for the implementation of the Paris commitments. This requires the single most important ingredient which is trust between all countries.
No country, however small or big is immune from the effects of climate change. As many nations witness the fury of nature with natural disasters, loss of life, income and property, the need to change is now compounded with the will to change.
It is important to note that without the success of COP24, the Paris Agreement will not meet the hopes and expectation raised back in 2015. Katowice agreement will be about safe-guarding Paris.
Wishing COP24 all success.
By Reaven D’Souza