Fighting Global climate change | Daily News


Fighting Global climate change

IPCC releases major report this year.
IPCC releases major report this year.

The threat of global climate change had led to both national and international investigations into its effects as well as attempts by the international system to mitigate its causes or adapt to its potential effects. Countries in isolation would not be able to substantially influence or adopt optimal policies to cope with global climate change. An international regime is sought to overcome this problem.

International regime

International regimes are “social institutions that consist of agreed-upon principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures and programmes that govern the interaction of actors in specific issue areas” (Bulkey and Newell, 2010). Climate change was addressed for the first time in the international arena by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979 by adopting Resolution 43/53 on “Protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind.”

The current centerpiece for action against global climate change is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 1992. The ultimate objective of this convention is to achieve stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system (Article 2). The Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP) became the convention’s ultimate authority, holding its first session - COP 1 in Berlin in 1995.

Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted under the UNFCCC at the Conference of Parties in Kyoto in 1997 and entered into force in 2005. This protocol commits its parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets. Recognising that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activities, the protocol places heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”

Paris Agreement

At COP 21 in Paris in 2015, parties to the UNFCCC reached a landmark agreement known as the Paris Agreement. It requires all parties to put forward their best efforts through “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. The main objective of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.


IPCC is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was created to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation options. The main activity of the IPCC is the preparation of reports assessing the state of knowledge of climate change. When IPCC members met at Incheon, South Korea, in October 2018, a landmark report from the panel pointed a far more disturbing picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and said that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has no documented precedent.

G20 Summit

Climate change was one of the most important subjects tackled at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in November 2018. All the G20 members except USA agreed to implement the “irreversible” Paris Agreement on climate change. US President Donald Trump reiterated his decision to withdraw US from the Paris Agreement, which they officially cannot do until 2020. Thus, USA is the only country that refused to sign the joint statement on climate change at the G20 summit. India’s Prime Minister having a discussion at the summit with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres about climate change and India’s support for the Paris Agreement, said the motivation for his strong commitment to climate action is rooted in the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas.

COP 24

The 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Climate Change Convention (COP24) commenced on December 3 at Katowice, Poland. One of its main tasks is to adopt decisions ensuring the implementation of the Paris Agreement to fight climate change. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, addressing the conference said that “climate change is running faster than we are and we must catch up sooner rather than later, before it is too late. For many people, regions and even countries, this is already a matter of life and death.” He further highlighted that “climate action offers a compelling path to transform our world for the better. Governments and investors need to be on the green economy, not the grey.”

According to the UN, the UNFCCC presented a new report that highlights both progress and gaps as developed countries implement climate actions to meet their targets in the period before 2020. The World Bank has announced $200 bn in funding over five years to support countries taking actions against climate action. The World Health Organization’s special report at the conference provided recommendations for governments on how to maximise the health benefits of tackling climate change.

Copenhagen Summit

The Copenhagen Summit was held in Denmark in October 2018 with the participation of heads of state and governments together with leaders of international organisations, business, academic institutions and civil society to form a powerful global coalition for sustainable growth through innovative partnerships. It is a global initiative with the ambition of becoming the world’s leading forum for developing concrete public–private partnerships at scale to deliver on sustainable development goals and the Paris Agreement.

Apart from the above major institutions, multilateral and regional development banks also play a key role in financing climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The World Bank is a key actor which has been involved in a range of climate change initiatives. At Manila, Philippines, in September 2018, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) raised $750 million to help finance climate change mitigation and adaptation projects with an issue of 10-year green bonds. Proceeds of the green bond will support low carbon and climate-resilient projects funded through the ADB’s ordinary capital resources and used in its non-concessional operations.


The EU and scores of developing countries have pledged to toughen their existing commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to enable the world to stay within a 1.5C rise in global warming.

The promise, which follows increasingly dire scientific warnings, was the most positive message yet to come from the ongoing talks in Poland.

The announcement came at the end of a day in which the UN secretary general made an impassioned intervention to rescue the talks, which have been distracted by US, Russian and Saudi moves to downgrade scientific advice.

“We’re running out of time,” António Guterres told the plenary. “To waste this opportunity would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change. It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal.”

The talks have centred on devising a rulebook for implementing the 2015 Paris agreement and raising countries’ level of ambition to counter climate change, but progress has been slow on several key issues and divisions have emerged between four fossil fuel powers – the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – and the rest of the world.

The UN believes China could play a stronger role in the absence of leadership from the US. Sources said Guterres would make a telephone call to Xi to ask for his help in nudging talks forward.

The EU also wants China, which is a key member of the block of 77 developing countries, to step up to ensure that countries all follow the same rules in being transparent over their greenhouse gas emissions.

Campaigners praised the decision by the High Ambition Coalition group of countries, made up of the EU and four other developed countries, including Canada and New Zealand, as well as the large grouping of least developed countries and several other developing nations, to scale up their emissions-cutting efforts in line with a 1.5C temperature rise limit.

Wendel Trio, director of the Climate Action Network Europe, said: “The spirit of Paris is back. The statement will boost greater ambition at the crunch time of these so far underwhelming talks. For the EU this must mean a commitment to significantly increase its 2030 target by 2020, even beyond the 55 percent reduction some member states and the European parliament are calling for. We call upon the countries that have not signed the statement so far to stop ignoring the science.”

Guterres, in a pointed criticism aimed at the four countries that have been refusing to “welcome” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on 1.5-degree warming, said rejecting climate science was indefensible.

He added: “The IPCC special report is a stark acknowledgment of what the consequences of global warming beyond 1.5 degrees will mean for billions of people around the world, especially those who call small island states home. This is not good news, but we cannot afford to ignore it.”

Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji and the outgoing chair of COP23, amplified Guterres’ message. He told delegates they risked going down in history as “the generation that blew it – that sacrificed the health of our world and ultimately betrayed humanity because we didn’t have the courage and foresight to go beyond our short-term individual concerns: craven, irresponsible and selfish.”

The former US vice-president Al Gore told delegates they faced “the single most important moral choice in history of humanity.”

Behind the scenes, delegates said there had been strong progress on finance thanks to a doubling of commitments by Germany and Norway to help poorer nations adapt to climate change and build institutions capable of monitoring emissions. Nicholas Stern, the author of a landmark review on the economics of climate change, praised “the level of ideas and cooperation”.

But others said there were still many disputed brackets in the negotiating text on transparency and other elements of the rulebook.

“There has been some progress, but it’s a very worrying time. There is still a lot more on the table than we hoped for at this stage,” said Helen Mountford, vice-president of the World Resources Institute. “The secretary general is coming in to make sure this COP can land in a good place. He will hold a summit next year to raise ambitions. If he wants success there, then here we need a robust rulebook and clear signals on ambition and finance.”

Janos Pasztor, the former climate adviser to Ban Ki-moon, told The Guardian that Guterres was doing the right thing by intervening at a crucial stage. “He needs to make clear what the IPCC has described as a major challenge, and that we have to deliver on that,” he said.

Pasztor added: “We are talking about the need for massive emissions reductions that have to happen now, not in the future. It is very daunting. The secretary general has reminded the world of what is at stake, and the political significance of that.”

The contrasts with the Paris climate summit, in terms of the political atmosphere, were striking. David Levaï, who was part of the French government team that helped to broker the successful 2015 conference, said the geopolitical winds were far less favourable today. Globally, the rise of nationalists such as Donald Trump in the US and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil has tilted power towards fossil fuel and agribusiness interests.

He said: “In the year before Paris, all countries made clear that they wanted an agreement. Now, there are repeated attacks on multilateralism, and this has empowered groups that take negative actions.”

Levaï, who is at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, expressed hope that the secretary general might make a difference. “The fact that he has come back shows he feels a need to whip countries into order,” he said.

There has been some criticism of the pro-coal government of Poland for failing to press governments to raise their ambitions. But it joined Fiji as co-chair of the Talanoa phase of the negotiations to issue a call for action that recognised the importance of the 1.5C report as the basis for more urgency and ambition.

“The window for action is closing fast. We need to do more and we need to do it now,” said the document, which would form part of the official statement from this conference.

(Source: The Guardian)



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