Global climate challenges amid war in Ukraine | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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Global climate challenges amid war in Ukraine

FOR our meaningful survival, the most perilous challenge the humanity is facing today is that of the climate change.

Between now and 2050 — the target date for bringing the world’s greenhouse gas emissions down to net-zero — there will be many moments when leaders are tempted to deviate from the goal of reducing emissions and moving to a clean economy.

By any measure, climate change has far-reaching effects beyond our estimation, on our planet— ranging from increasing the frequency and intensity of many extreme weather events, including flooding and drought— to changing sea temperature, ocean acidity, and sea level.

Needless to say, the ongoing war in Ukraine will cause some detrimental effects on global climate change.

The world powers need to adopt a comprehensive policy to combat the climate change challenges. The future of global security now revolves around the gravity of climate challenges.

The effects of the conflict in Ukraine have rippled across the globe, sending more than two million refugees fleeing, and driving up gasoline prices in the U.S., heating bills in Europe, the cost of bread in the Middle East, and even the price of potato chips around the world.

But one of the most significant impacts, for the future of global warming at least, is unfolding thousands of miles away in the Arctic, where vital research on carbon emissions just came to a screeching halt.

As the conflict progresses, experts worry that eroding political cooperation among Arctic nations could see environmentally-harmful Russian activities in the region go unchecked—further worsening the effects of climate change.

Climate change and global security are pushing against each other in shaping the future. That’s particularly apparent in this week’s events surrounding nuclear power.

Nuclear power plants generate energy with no carbon dioxide emissions, providing an alternative to the fossil fuels that are warming the atmosphere.

“Coal and other fossil fuels are choking humanity,” U.N.Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday after the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its most recent report.

“The present global energy mix is broken. ” Canada’s conventional natural gas production has already been in decline, with the war in Ukraine, Ottawa may get further challenges posed to its energy crisis.

When we see the increasing emissions due to military activity in the Ukraine warzone, the war picturesque reflects the high magnitude of’’ spillage and toxic clouds caused by the destruction of industrial and fuel storage’’ facilities accompanied by contamination of water and soil from heavy metals and chemicals— and even the destruction of crops and wildlife – the impact is horrifying.

Meanwhile, the US Energy experts are of the view that President Biden missed an opportunity to connect the war in Ukraine to the need to more swiftly sever an economic reliance on fossil fuels.

“The President did not articulate the long-term opportunity for the US to lead the world in breaking free of the geopolitical nightmare that is oil dependency,” said Paul Bledsoe, a strategic adviser to the Progressive Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

“I started to think about the parallels between climate change and this war and it’s clear that the roots of both these threats to humanity are found in fossil fuels.

Burning oil, gas and coal is causing warming and impacts we need to adapt to.And Russia sells these resources and uses the money to buy weapons.

Other countries are dependent upon these fossil fuels, they don’t make themselves free of them.

This is a fossil fuel war. It’s clear we cannot continue to live this way, it will destroy our civilization.

War is closing the window of opportunity for the world to prevent the worst impacts of climate change’’, said a leading Ukrainian scientist, Dr Svitlana Krakovska, who is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Recently, Merkel also appealed to the global community to stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Together with the UK and Norway, Germany has set aside $5 billion over the past five years to protect rainforests.

President Biden believes that his Government’s endorsed Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges.

It powerfully captures two basic truths, which are at the core of his plan: (1) the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge, and (2) our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected.

John Kerry, a former US Secretary of State, was named Biden’s special envoy on climate change and has been working to mend US cooperation with the European Union on climate change.

Even as relation fray between Moscow and Russia, US President Joe Biden and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin had agreed to address the worsening climate crisis.

According to the latest World Metrological Organization WMO report, “Extreme weather has the most immediate impact on our daily life,” he said.

“We are seeing a drought emergency unfolding in the Horn of Africa, recent deadly flooding in South Africa and the extreme heat in India and Pakistan.

Early warning systems are critically required [to save lives] yet these are only available in less than half of WMO’s 187 member nations.

The world’s oceans absorb more than 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases and 2021 set a record.

The increasing warmth in the ocean, which is irreversible over timescales of centuries to millennia, has been especially strong in the last 20 years.

Much of the ocean experienced at least one strong marine heat wave in 2021. Droughts and floods triggered food price rises that have been exacerbated in 202, the WMO said’’.

Needless to say, the future of global food security is organically linked with the protection of our environment.

But most importantly, to combat the emerging climate challenges, there is an evitable need of consensus among the US-EU-China-Russia.

Broadly speaking, the global community must be united to address the main objectives underlying the virtually held US conference (April-2021):‘’-Spurring transformational technologies that can help reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, while also creating enormous new economic opportunities and building the industries of the future.

-Showcasing subnational and non-state actors that are committed to green recovery and an equitable vision for limiting warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, and are working closely with national governments to advance ambition and resilience.

-Discussing opportunities to strengthen capacity to protect lives and livelihoods from the impact of climate change, address the global security challenges posed by climate change and the impact on readiness, and address the role of nature-based solutions in achieving net zero by 2050 goals.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.

 

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