Tackling Climate Change
Former President of the US, Obama once said “But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change”.
Climate change is becoming the biggest challenge of our time, spanning continents, countries generations and civilizations. The Earth is constantly heating at an alarming and unprecedented rate and the average temperature continuing to rise.
Two thirds of the global warming has occurred since 1975 at a rate of roughly 0.15 – 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade. Sadly, this change is believed to be permanently modifying the earth’s climate.
The main trigger is the greenhouse effect, which is increasing the amount of heat retained by the atmosphere hence causing the rise in temperature. Normally, the greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere block heat from being released, otherwise the temperature would have been around 33 degrees Celsius colder on average. Since the Industrial Revolution began and especially over the past 50 years, the Human activities, such as
deforestation and burning fossil fuels at a great rate, have contributed to an increased concentration of atmospheric CO2 along with other gases making the greenhouse effect worse.
The following table lists the 2015 annual CO2 emissions estimates (in thousands of CO2 Tons)
Source: Various sources & Arab Re research
The data only considers carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and cement manufactures, but not emissions from land use and forestry.
With this constant increase in CO2 emissions and average temperature, it should be expected to see record losses of ice melting in the Arctic Sea, increasing thus the sea level and exposing big cities like New York, Sydney and Mumbai to the risk of drowning. Over the last one hundred years, the ocean has seen a rise of 10 cm to 20 cm. This will influence too, the precipitation patterns with more storms and floods hitting the coastal zones. Oceans and Coral reefs are at risk as well. The latter are starving of oxygen causing eventually the death of the coral while oceans are becoming more acidic.
With the growing threat posed by climate change,
an unprecedented unification of governments all around the world to combat this risk was embodied though the famous 2015 Paris Agreement.
This was is a turning point in the road to low Carbon economy. The accord was negotiated by 196 representatives at the 21st Conference of the UNFCCC in Paris. As of July 2017, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, out of which 154 have ratified it. Those ratified countries have one aim that is to keep warming well below two degrees Celsius with a target to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Awkwardly and despite the US ranking as second highest emitter of CO2 worldwide, the US government decided recently to withdraw from the agreement causing widespread condemnation. Yet this has given China, ranked first, an opportunity to take the lead. To note that the EU remains one of the world’s carbon polluting regions and comes second just after China and US.
In line with their commitment towards the agreement, the Chinese government along with many European countries have adopted recently national programs aiming at reducing the greenhouse gas emissions i.e. building renewable capacity and nuclear reactors as well as limiting the use of coal in addition to giving incentives to buy electric and hybrid cars.
The target is that by 2020 there should be a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990, and by 2030 a 40% percent reduction.
The common consensus is that there is definitely a relationship between the global warming and severe weather events.
The climate change has the potential to affect the frequency and severity of extreme weather,
which results in hotter heat waves and worse droughts as seen in the example below: