The world is now about 1.2°C warmer than it was in the 19th century, and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen by 50%.
Scientists predict that if nothing is done, global warming will exceed 4 degrees Celsius in the future, resulting in devastating heat waves, millions of people losing their homes due to rising sea levels, and irreversible loss of plant and animal species. These scenarios are preventable and yet we enable them to cause the deaths of over 13 million people annually.
Developing countries argue that already advanced nations have emitted more greenhouse gases over time. Most of them express that developed countries should carry a heavier burden when combatting climate change as they were able to grow their economies without restraints. Indeed, the United States has emitted the most amount of emissions globally, followed by the European Union (EU).
The world’s biggest CO2 emitters, the US and China, pledged to cooperate more in areas including methane emissions and the switch to clean energy. Leaders of countries like Brazil, India, and Japan have made commitments to curb domestic greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change. Their pledges come shortly after President Biden vowed to reduce US emissions by at least 50% by 2030.
Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, vowed to end illegal deforestation in the country by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. While Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stated that Japan intends to reduce emissions by 46% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Lastly, India, the world’s third-largest emitter after China and the United States, has announced an India-U.S. Climate and Clean Energy Agenda Partnership for 2030.
Although most nations’ countries have taken pledges under the Paris Agreement, it must be ensured and enforced through national laws and policies to reduce the impact of climate change. The global stocktake mechanism should put pressure on countries to increase their level of ambition over time by regularly reviewing progress on the shared global goals.
Simply relying on voluntary promises may not yield the desired result. The review process should be transparent and set legally binding targets for lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, countries need to commit to considering short and long-term threats as imminent and urgent.
Let us hope that, besides nations’ increasing efforts, individuals will also make efforts to limit the impact of climate change through actions such as energy-saving at home, using more public transport, eating more vegetables, switching to electrical vehicles, switching over to a circular economy, etc. Perhaps this will create a more realistic path for international climate change action.