AMID the undeniable effects of climate change, world leaders today face the daunting challenge of coming up with an accord in Paris late this year that would curb global warming in the next decades.
However, organizing a global, legal agreement at the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris in late 2015 will not be easy. The nations that will participate in the summit are likely to adopt measures to comply with the mandates of the UN but with their priority on protecting their national interests above that of mankind and the planet.
As to how hard it is to reach an agreement on climate change was demonstrated in Lima, Peru last year, when nations failed to achieve anything and had to scramble past the deadline to come up with a pact.
The annual round of talks under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had been scheduled to end after 12 days, but was extended by 32 hours which can be considered an exceptional delay even in the tradition of the notoriously fractious meetings of the convention.
The hard-fought agreement –called the Lima Call for Climate Action – sets down the foundations for what is envisioned to be the most ambitious agreement in them history of environment protection.
The agreement will take effect in 2020 and for the first time bind all the world’s nations into a single purpose of curbing heat-trapping carbon gases that drive dangerous climate change.
The hard-fought agreement—called the Lima Call for Climate Action—sets down the foundations for what is envisioned to be the most ambitious agreement in them history of environment protection. It for the first time binds all nations into a single purpose of curbing heat-trapping carbon gases that drive dangerous climate change.
In particular, it aims to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels, which will avert a potentially catastrophic damage to Earth’s climate system by the turn of the century. The real challenge of the agreement, however, is it asks countries to enter into voluntary commitments to reduce their carbon emissions.
Also, the agreement does not oblige rich nations to budget aid for poorer countries, which developing countries attending the Lima meet had insisted on.
And as the Paris meet is fast approaching, the Kyoto Protocol—the first binding international agreement on emissions that causes global warming—showed that significant compromises must be made to reach a deal. But the Kyoto Protocol, even if it resulted to several countries hitting their targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, did not result in the slowing of global emissions.
The prospect of the Paris climate change summit not resulting in solid commitments from countries to reduce their emissions is bad news for less affluent countries that are badly affected by climate change but contribute very little to global warming. The Philippines is one of them.
How Supertyphoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) damaged or devastated parts of Eastern Visayas in November 8, 2013 shows that the Philippines is one of the countries most affected by climate change, yet the country is not ranked among the top greenhouse gas emitters because it does not have an industrialized economy like the major emitters, particularly China, the United States and the European Union.
According to environmental group Germanwatch, the Philippines and Cambodia were the two top countries that were most affected by extreme weather conditions from 1994 to 2013.
Rich countries should provide more financial, medical and technical aid to poor countries that are most affected by climate change than they are giving now. And they must also drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to slow down global warming.
At Lima, Rich countries pledged more than $10 billion in climate aid for poor economies. But will they really disburse the amount? They must. They have been remiss in meeting the aid they promised in Kyoto more than a decade ago.