Since the Rio summit on climate change in 1992, the world has continued on its path of increasing CO2 emissions. Governments approved the Kyoto Convention but ignored its requirement of reducing these emissions. With this inaction, the world has lost essential breathing room.
The latest UN report tells us that we now have a bigger challenge before us: governments must work for the complete elimination of fossil fuels by the end of this century if we wish to keep global warming below 2 ° C.
The path to elimination has certain milestones. The first milestone must be reached in Paris in December 2015, when the next Conference of the Kyoto parties takes place. What is needed is a worldwide commitment to meet 2020 reduction targets identified in the UNFCC reports as necessary to stay within the 2 ° ceiling.
That will be just the beginning. Governments must continue to map out the path to successive reduction targets in the decades to come. This will only be possible by scaling down the burning of fossil fuels until its complete elimination.
If we fail, national governments will be trying to maintain prosperity and stability in the face of certain climate catastrophe.
Now we use the use the relatively benign phrase “Extreme Weather Events.” In the future we will be driven to rename them as “climate disasters” as the severity of these events increases.
Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, puts it this way:
“Political leaders now face a choice: they can either put policies in place to achieve this essential shift [to renewable energy], or they can spend the rest of their careers dealing with climate disaster after climate disaster”.
For more information covering relevant issues we invite our readers to follow the commentary in the world press.
Call for action to tackle emissions (Press Association)
Effects of climate change ‘irreversible,’ U.N. panel warns in report (Washington Post)
Scientists warn time is running out to tackle climate change (BusinessGreen)
5 key take aways from the latest climate change report (National Geographic)
‘Greenhouse gas emissions need unprecedented cuts’ (Business Standard)
List thanks to Christian Holtz and CAN-RAC.