The way we humans are living is extremely damaging for the nature. The way we find our food, clothing, energy, housing, transport — almost everything that we’re doing is detrimental to the health of the Earth. We are extinguishing the land, air, water bodies, animals, trees, and seemingly everything that really has a life. We are literally poisoning Nature.
Three of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations talk about the protection of the earth, and two goals indirectly talk about the wellbeing of health and sanitation. Goal 13 talks about taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, Goal 14 about how to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources and Goal 15 about sustainably managing forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss. Each goal has 5 to 10 sub-targets.
What made the UN adopt these goals?
Undoubtedly, the alarming rate at which we are living polluting the nature.
Many disagreements between the developed countries (mainly industrialized, economically advanced countries of the west) and developing countries (countries that are not as industrial) have been voiced on the issue of climate change. Developed countries want developing countries to cut down on burning coal and engagement in other activities that corrupt the atmosphere. Developing countries argue that developed countries developed precisely by burning fossil fuels when they were in the process of developing. They argue that their economic development will be seriously damaged if they don’t burn fossil fuels, and that developed countries should do their fair share of work to help find alternatives that can help the developing countries to progress. According to the statistics of Center for Global Development, developed countries are responsible for 79% of historical carbon emissions of which the European union and USA has pioneered the list; today developing countries are responsible for 63% of current carbon emissions where China and Latin American countries emit the highest. Developed countries need to control their patterns of consumption — of luxury and waste — especially the excessive consumption of fossil fuels. USA is responsible for the 80% of total fossil fuels consumed every year.
The consequences of climate change are increasing. Frost-free season will lengthen, sea level will rise, changes in precipitation pattern will occur, more droughts and heat waves will be welcomed, hurricanes will become stronger, the arctic region will become ice-free. Our world is in a massive ruckus wherein the climate change that has been caused by the activities of developed countries cannot be removed, and the climate change that the developing countries are causing now cannot be avoided. Climate change is a global problem that has nothing to do with the national borders. Emissions anywhere on the earth affect people everywhere. For example, due to more carbon emissions from any place, temperature will rise, the polar regions will melt and the sea level will rise, which is a worldwide problem.
What should we do to reduce the temperature?
This issue requires solution that is to be coordinated at the international level and international corporation is required to help the developing countries achieve a low-carbon economy. Innovative technologies are key to tackling climate change, specially in the development of low-carbon technology where innovations in energy consumption are made. Carbon emitting fuels should be substituted with green fuels which emit very less carbon and is eco-friendly. Solar energy should be used for generating power. Some oil-rich developing countries, such as Saudi Arabia, will be at an economic disadvantage if they try to convert fuel to green energy sources. In order to significantly reduce carbon emissions, the world will have to drastically cut its consumption of crude oil and natural gas, Saudi Arabia’s main exports. Subsidies of fossil fuel, that reach $150-250 billion, must be progressively eliminated. It is fundamental to develop alternative forms of power, such as solar, geothermal, wind and hydroelectric both at small and medium scales.
The climate change the Paris Agreement aims to “strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
As the UNDP states in its goals, all countries need to integrate climate change measures into their national policies, planning and strategies. We need to strengthen the adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in every country. Awareness should be spread to each and every person– this would make a big difference when they try to make conscious, prudent choices.
-Contributed by Vinitha Reddy
Picture Credits: nymag.com