Don’t take the planet for granted

Shabbir Ahmad

The global temperature in March has smashed a century-long record and by the greatest margin yet seen for any month. Previously the high temperature in February this year was described as a shocker by the scientists which was 1.04C higher but according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) the month of March was even hotter i.e. 1.07C higher. Last week NASA, World Meteorological Organization and the UN body for climate and weather had confirmed JMA figures which is a reminder of how perilously close we are to permanently crossing into dangerous territory.
The scientists have been struck by the recent unprecedented temperatures which has underscored the urgency of reducing global carbon emissions. The UN climate summit in Paris in December last year confirmed 2C as the danger limit for global warming which should not be passed. But it also agreed to “pursue efforts” to limit global warming to 1.5C a target now looking highly optimistic.
According to United Nations statistics division, five major World powers are responsible for two third of the carbon emission. China is at the top of the list with about 30% of the total carbon emission in the world. United States emit about 15% of the total carbon emission, while European Union, India and Russia emit about 22% of the total CO2. If these countries agree to reduce the carbon emission and address the other causes of global warming, only then the targets set in the Paris climate deal will be realized. But in order to move towards de-carbonisation, we not only need to find the alternatives but also put a high price on carbon. Numerous organizations and experts have proposed the carbon pricing as a strategy to curb the use of fossil fuel. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has declared subsidies on fossil fuel as an immense burden on government resources and has called global leaders to phase out these subsidies so that the target of zero carbon emission can be achieved successfully. Similarly the G8, G20, IMF, IEA, and OECD have identified the phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies as an essential part of the transition to a low carbon economy, necessary to reduce our global carbon footprint.
Tibet’s glaciers are melting, its permafrost is degrading; it is suffering from massive deforestation and damming projects. The Tibetan plateau has 46,000 glaciers, making it home to the third largest concentration of ice after the south and north poles. The Tibetan plateau is head source of Asia’s six largest rivers. These waters are a critical resource to more than 1.3 billion people in the world’s 10 most densely populated nations surrounding the plateau. Glaciers on the Tibetan plateau are melting at a rate of 7% annually and if the current rate continues, two-thirds of the glaciers on the plateau will be gone by 2050. The Alpine permafrost which is critical for the health of the planet is also at serious risk. It stores more than 12,300m tons of carbon but 10% of this permafrost has degraded in past decade. With the permafrost degradation and the resulting release of carbon, the impact on climate change will be devastating.
Some of countries especially Germany is leading way in environmental and climate protection. With the goal it has set itself, no other comparable industrial country has a similar ambitious and concretely formulated program as laid out by Germany. By 2020 Germany intends to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared to 1990s level. Germany has also led way with industrial activism to promote renewable energy industries that provide skilled jobs.
— The writer is a freelance columnist & MS student in Germany.

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