Climate change is no longer a distant threat. It is here and it is affecting every nation on every continent. We can no longer afford to argue on whether the science behind the effects of climate change is correct or not. Our ice caps are melting, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense, our oceans are acidifying, glaciers are receding, and sea levels are rising. If you are not convinced, simply look at the following climate change facts:
- Between 1998 and 2017, the world has suffered an economic loss of almost $3 trillion from climate change
- Climate change has claimed 1.3 million lives in the last 19 years
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere are currently at 416 parts per million (ppm). The last time the earth had this much CO2 was 3 million years ago.
This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Luthi, D., et al.. 2008; Etheridge, D.M., et al. 2010; Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.) To find out more visit climate.gov.
For those of you still on the fence about climate change, then have a look at World Economic Forum’s (WEF) recent Global Risk Report 2020. It revealed that the top 5 global risks in terms of likelihood over the next 10 years were all linked to climate change –
- Extreme weather events (e.g. cyclones, blizzards, droughts, wildfires)
- Natural disasters (e.g. earthquake, volcanic eruption)
- Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation
- Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse
- Man-made environmental damage and disasters (e.g. Fukushima meltdown, Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill)
It is clear that challenges related to climate change are very much real and it is not going to go away anytime soon. Rather than continue this endless debate, we would be better moving from activism to actionism. I will present to you what I think are two fundamental solutions needed for mitigating the effects of climate change.
A Shift in Perspective – Solving the Global Warming Problem
The United Nations estimated that we will need a minimum of $1 trillion investment per year by 2030 in clean energy for the world to become more climate-resilient. Are the public and private sectors ready to make such an investment? There is good news and there is bad news. Good news first. Global climate finance flows have increased over the last few years. It went from $342 billion in 2013 to $546 billion in 2018.
To find out more, visit the Climate Policy Initiative
If you are like me, you might look at this figure and feel a sense of optimism. We are roughly 50% short of the total investment per year needed by 2030. This is where I must become the bearer of bad news. Since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2015, global banks have invested $1.4 trillion in the fossil fuel industry. In 2016 alone, 70% of the $1.7 trillion that was spent on global energy supply was linked to fossil fuels. This is the equivalent of showering water and oil to put out a forest fire.
The solution for this evident. We require a shift in global financing. Move investment from fossil fuels to climate finance to achieve the $1 trillion investment per year by 2030.
Fixing Climate Conferences
Since 1995, the world has witnessed a total of 27 climate conferences, organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). The last global climate conference was held in Madrid, Spain in December 2019. Things did not exactly turn out too well. To be honest, 3 decades of climate negotiations in these conferences have a habit of falling flat.
The next UNFCC conference is in Glasgow, the UK between 9th November and 19th November 2020. It is fair to argue, “how come our answer to climate chaos is to have more meetings?”. The truth is, without these conferences, we currently have nothing new to replace it with. We either risk countries and companies to work individually to solve the global climate crisis or develop another process that would require the world to come together. There is no guarantee that either of us this would work. And frankly, I don’t think we have the time to test this hypothesis.
So, what do we do? Well, we can make our voices heard and pressure the UNFCC to strive to be better. The UNFCC conferences can become an extremely powerful tool to combat the climate crisis, provided it overcomes 2 of its key challenges –
- Absence of ambitious goals and targets to reduce the impact of global warming. If we set the bar too low, we are giving ourselves no hope of curbing the ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Setting non-binding agreements. This means individual countries are not mandated to act.
Joining Hands Against Climate Change
As climate change is devastating humans, fish, wildlife, trees and everything in this world through:
- Wildfires like in Amazon, Brazil, and Australia
- Displacing people from their homes because of rising sea levels, which is happening in Wales, UK
- Floods destroying homes in the United States
It is easy to feel isolated. However, there is no need for us to work in solitude. When we humans work together, we have the ability to overcome adversity. When we first found out about the Ozone layer depletion in 1982, what did we do? The world came together and banned the substance that was responsible for it. In 2019, NASA revealed that the Ozone hole was the smallest on record since its discovery in 1982. The most valuable thing for us is to not give up hope. We should join hands to face this adversity together and overcome it.
Watch: How can we save our planet? SLX talks with Marco Lambertini (General WWF International), who encourages collaborative and smart solutions to preserve our beautiful biodiversity.