Saturday, August 20, 2022

WHAT IS A “CODE RED FOR HUMANITY”?

                                         

A brief history on climate:

Environment issues or climate change never considered to be a major concern. The main agenda was resources available and their usage for economic-social development. Until 1968 when the major attention shifted to the depletion of resources. 

The first earth summit- 1972 – Stockholm:

The first time an action plan for preserving and enhancement of Human Environment on an international level discussed. It was then that light was then shed on the changing climate under the section of identification and controlling of pollutants. The governments warned and asked to keep in mind the magnitude of climate effects and be mindful of activities.

By 1988 the depletion of ozone debated very prominently around the globe, also became the new political agenda. Moreover, that is when IPCC- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established. With aim for examination of greenhouse and global climate change by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization. The second world climate conference called for Global action and negotiation to act on the urgency of climate and resource conservation. 

Rio de Janeiro 1992, Brazil:

A new framework, seeking international agreements reflecting a global consensus on development and environmental cooperation to protect the integrity of the global environment in its Rio Declaration and Agenda 21. Agenda 21 is a global action plan, around the globe on the international, national, and local levels. It focused on the protection of the atmosphere linking science, sustainable development, energy development and consumption, transportation, industrial development, stratospheric ozone depletion and transboundary atmospheric pollution.

The Kyoto Protocol 1997, Japan:

The most influential climate action plan took so far. It aimed to reduce the industrialized countries’ overall emissions of carbon dioxide. Along with other greenhouse gases by at least 5 per cent below the 1990 levels in the commitment period of 2008 to 2012.

The Kyoto Protocol cover emissions of the six main greenhouse gases, namely:

• Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)

The Kyoto protocol completed its second commitment in 2013-2020, its first commitment ended in 2008- 2012. 

The Paris climate treaty 2015:

It’s a landmark treaty that is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It aims at limiting global warming below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. Paris agreement focuses on- 

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)- Where by 2020 countries were to submit their climate action plan.

Long-Term Strategies– where countries must formulate and submit by 2020 long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies (LT-LEDs). Unlike NDC’S these are not mandatory.

The recent IPCC report-

Secretary-General Calls Latest IPCC Climate Report ‘Code Red for Humanity’, Stressing ‘Irrefutable’ Evidence of Human Influence.

The Working Group I contribution to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment report, provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change. Further its implications, and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation options. 

AR6 Climate Change 2021:

The Physical Science Basis

The current state of climate- Human activity is a cause of major concern. The report observed. “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.” The increase in mixed GHG’S is due to human activities since 1750. Heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and their attribution to human influence. Burning of coal, oil, gas, deforestation, increase in livestock farming etc. The heating of the climate system has caused global mean sea level rise. Through ice loss on land and thermal expansion from ocean warming.

Climatic response to global heating:

“Continued global warming is projected to further intensify the global water cycle, including its variability, global monsoon precipitation and the severity of wet and dry events”. Changes in regional atmospheric circulation with projected high-level drought flood extreme weather conditions. Rainfall variability related to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation projected to be amplified by the second half of the 21st century. Delay in monsoon season expected to hamper the Agrarian countries leading to food insecurity.

Increase in CO2 emissions:

The ocean and land carbon sinks, projected to be less effective with the rise in emissions. Many changes due to past and future emissions are irreversible that of deep ocean acidification. Further, the mountain and polar glacier melting will continue and had continued for centuries.

Climate Information for Risk Assessment and Regional Adaptation:

A need to strengthen climate system to understand climate response to the interplay between human influence, natural drivers, and internal variability”. Natural drivers and internal variability will modulate human-caused changes. Especially at regional scales and in the near term, with little effect on centennial global warming. These modulations are important to consider in planning for the full range of possible changes”.

Worldwide – regional climatic change will be witnessed:

“Every region is projected to increasingly experience concurrent and multiple changes in climatic impact-drivers. Changes in several climatic impact-drivers would be more widespread at 2°C compared to 1.5°C global warming and even more widespread and/or pronounced for higher warming levels” the reports state. Major volcanic eruptions, heavy precipitation and associated flooding projected to intensify. For instance, more frequent in most regions in Africa and Asia, North America, and Europe.

Limiting future climate change:

“Limiting human-induced global warming to a specific level requires limiting cumulative CO2 emissions, reaching at least net zero CO2 emissions, along with strong reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions. Strong, rapid and sustained reductions in CH4 emissions would also limit the warming effect resulting from declining aerosol pollution and would improve air quality”. 

By the next 20 years, it’s expected that the earth surface temperature will rise to 2 or beyond. Strict measures regarding emissions are now required in policies by the government globally, earth extreme weather conditions can be reduced. As a result, if the emission rate continues to increase, future the calamities bestowed upon humankind won’t stop. 

Arshey Bhardwaj
Arshey Bhardwaj is a postgraduate in the field of Political Science from the University Of Delhi. Her areas of interest are Global Relations, India's Diplomatic Relations, Policymaking, Social issues. Her focus is on enhancing her analytical skills and learning foreign languages. Follow her on Twitter: @ArsheyBhardwaj

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