Seizing the chance to save planet Earth

By Sajjad Malik
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 6, 2018
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Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, president of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, addresses the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 3, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

Everybody should have some idea of the impending disaster for our planet if the issue of climate change is not tackled diligently. After all, scientists have been warning for a long time that unless immediate measures are taken to control carbon emissions, humanity is most likely doomed. 

A poignant voice joining those calling for action is that of the British broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Speaking at the opening ceremony of UN-sponsored conference in Katowice, Poland, he termed climate change the greatest threat facing humans in thousands of years. 

Known as COP24, discussions will go on for two weeks and the outcome will be critical for making any progress towards timely implementation of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. 

The Conference of Parties (COP) is the first effort to move ahead to implement the Paris accord, following the October issuance of an important report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

It observed that limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius required far-reaching changes in all aspects of society. It also warned that the world would have to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 45 percent by 2030 in order to achieve that target. 

This won't be easy as, reportedly, carbon dioxide emissions have begun rising again after remaining steady for four years.

The Paris agreement was a landmark achievement, as world leaders in principle agreed that climate change was not fiction but a reality, and needed coordinated steps by all nations to control it. 

The agreement was a kind of compromise and each country was allowed to decide the actions it would take to cut back its emissions. It was ratified by more than 180 countries in 2016 and will come into force by 2020 after implementation rules are formulated.  

COP24 is grappling with how to prepare a common rulebook so that each country will be ready and willing to start reducing emissions of poisonous gases into the atmosphere. The process is obviously slow, while expectations are high. 

People take part in a march called "Claim the Climate" in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 2, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

The halting pace leading to the implementation phase of the Paris accord is a key hurdle for urgent measures which according to pro-Paris deal activists should be taken on a priority basis. However, those involved in the law-making process face a daunting task in creating consensus. 

The deal has already suffered a major setback when the United States announced to walk out of the commitments it made in Paris. The primary reason is that President Donald Trump is not convinced about the climate change threat.  

The issue of financing the countries taking actions against climate change is another key sticking point. Poorer countries are hoping to get US$100 billion each year under the Paris agreement from 2020. Being the biggest polluter, America has a moral responsibility to help the developing world to act on curbing pollution.  

In the midst of the gloom, there is still hope that due to adherence of China, the EU and rest of the world to the pledges made in 2015, the deal will be implemented on time. The unity between China and EU has been the main binding force that has held the world together after America's withdrawal.  

The politicians and bureaucracy are known for squabbling to protect so-called national interests. However, there is some optimism due to increasing spread of knowledge about the deadly impact of rising mercury. 

The "People's Seat" at COP24, currently occupied by Sir David, is also a source of encouragement. Hopefully, it will inspire more public figures to come forward and add their weight to the great cause. 

It may not be the last chance to save our beautiful world. However, it will not be long before the cataclysmic effects of changes in the natural world become more obviously threatening. Delay will raise the cost and also may do irreparable damage to the environment. 

Hence, it is important that technical rules should be formulated well in time before the implementation of the deal becomes due. A framework based on regulations will help all signatories to prepare a list of their priorities to start implementation of the Paris agreement. 

Sajjad Malik is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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