WEB DESK: The United States and China may nurture many a clashing perspective on a whole host of international issues, but quite providentially they share their concerns about the future of Planet Earth.
They are huge polluters of global climate as they produce some 38 percent of the world’s emissions, and thereby had held hostage implementation of the Paris Agreement on Global Climate Change by withholding its ratification. But quite unexpectedly, a day before the G-20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, they ratified the Paris deal, and handed the ratification documents to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. An excited President Obama described their action as the “moment we finally decided to save our planet”.
His host, President Xi Jinping, is hopeful their joint action would “encourage other countries to take similar efforts”. In fact, the two sides went even beyond this; they also agreed on a roadmap for making curbs on emissions in commercial aircraft and phasing out HFCs, which are beyond the scope of the Paris Agreement. By then, out of the 180 countries, who signed the Paris Agreement, only 26, including France, and produce less than 1 percent of world’s emissions had ratified.
Among the major emitters China tops the list with 20 percent, followed by the United States (18%), Russia (8%), India (4%) and Japan (3.7%). The agreement seeks commitment from countries to stop global temperature from increasing beyond 2 degree Celsius compared with pre-Industrial levels. But there is a caveat to this agreement, in that the member-states would issue their own targets and disclose their progress, called Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). And the Paris Agreement would come into effect only if it is ratified by no less than 55 countries that produce 55 percent of global emissions.
Now that the US and China have “added powerful momentum” to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, UN Secretary General is “optimistic that we can do it before the end of the year”. Possibly, by November when Climate Summit is held in Marrakesh the deal would be due for implementation as by then it would have been ratified by the desired number of countries.
Besides some island states threatened by rising sea levels consequent to the global warming South Asia is the most vulnerable to any negative fallout of climate change. And this change is largely the product of India which produces no less that 4 percent of emissions. Much to the chagrin of Pakistan, which is seventh most serious victim of climate change and the island states of the Indian Ocean, New Delhi says it cannot sign the instrument now. It has sought ‘flexibility’, but is not open about it.
Pakistan is among the lowest producers; it produces less than 1 percent of emissions but ranks amongst the most vulnerable states insofar as the climate change is concerned. Because of rising temperatures the Himalayan glaciers are melting rather fast, releasing huge volumes of water.
Resultantly, the rivers get overflowed creating flooding and the rushing streams in the mountainous areas trigger landslides, cause erosion of landscape and thus destroy forests. Also under the impact of fast flowing waters there is increased siltation of major dams particularly the Tarbela. The extreme weather also results in erratic monsoon rains which quite often generate flash floods, deadly landslides and at times result in prolonged droughts, much to the harm of agricultural potential of Pakistan.
Because of rising sea level the country’s coastal areas are increasingly being inundated, uprooting people from such areas. Pakistan has suffered some of the worst climate induced disasters. According to German Watch, between 1995 and 2014 it suffered 143 climate-related disasters, including devastating floods of 2010 and 2012 and the heatwave in Karachi in 2015 which claimed some 1,000 lives. But official reaction to this is laconic – not only delayed submission of its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations, but what it finally did send is said to be ‘bogus’.
However, as expected, the declared official position is somewhat different. The concerned minister says his ministry has developed a ‘comprehensive strategy’ to address climate change, and that not only identifies policy approaches but also methodology for both adoption and mitigation.
And that the government might also seek regional cooperation in this area from the platform of forthcoming Saarc summit in Islamabad.
Source: Business Recorder