On April 22 (Earth Day), some 175 members of the United Nations signed the Paris agreement on climate change. The landmark accord sets out a global action plan to put the world on track by 2020 to limit a rise in global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius.
The Paris deal also calls upon member states to evolve ‘nationally determined contributions’, and as to how the industrial losses suffered due to mitigation of greenhouse emissions should be compensated. In fact, what looked a forbidding challenge some four months ago has now come about with astonishing ease; the most telling being the signing of the accord by China and the United States, who together emit 36 percent of greenhouse gases.
The other big emitters include; the 28-member European Union countries (9 percent), India and Brazil (9 percent each) and Russia (5 percent). But those who not only signed but also instantly notified their ratifications include 15 members mainly small island states.
No wonder then that an elated UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his opening statement “Today you are signing a new covenant with the future” as US Secretary of State John Kerry signed the document holding the future of his country – his three-year-old granddaughter. But will Donald Trump, who is likely to win Republican presidential nomination and may become the next US President, ratify the Paris agreement signed by Kerry.
The anxiety is there, but indications are that US will ratify the accord through an executive agreement bypassing the Senate thus setting up a complex process for the future incumbent to pull out. China may also ratify the agreement before 2020, possibly as early as by the end of 2016 or 2017.
On behalf of Pakistan, which is factually an insignificant emitter of greenhouse gases (less than 1%), but one of the top 10 collateral victims of global warming, the Paris agreement was signed by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
Almost all of its glaciers are on retreat, melting faster than in any other part of the world. Its vulnerability to global warming regularly results in massive flooding due to higher glacial melt, extensive desertification and, a rapid rise of sea level devouring huge chunks of coastal areas. There is a considerable increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.
Erratic monsoon rains cause intense floods in Sindh and Punjab as landslides in north-western region result in huge losses of life and infrastructure. The ongoing heatwave in Karachi is yet another outcome of global warming. Last year hundreds of people died in the megacity because of intense heat which also created acute water shortages. It is a matter of fact that Pakistan has a low technical and financial capacity to adapt to adverse impacts of global warming.
It needs about $14 billion annually to adapt to climate change impacts. It is our hope as the ratification of the Paris agreement progresses the international commitments are also made to compensate countries, including Pakistan, which are suffering from the negative fallout generated by others who make extra money from the activities that cause above-normal greenhouse emissions.
Source: Business Recorder