FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE & GLOBAL WARMING: THE PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD AND OUR COLLECTIVE EXISTENCE
By Oluwole Sheriff Olusanya
“Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change; they’ll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary. Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders”
Former United States President – Barack Obama (10th January, 2017) (http://shegzsablezs.blogspot.com.ng/2017/01/obamas-farewell-speech-salient-answers.html)
Man is both creature and molder of his environment, which gives him physical sustenance and affords him the opportunity for intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. In the long and tortuous evolution of the human race on this planet, a stage has been reached when, through the rapid acceleration of science and technology, man has acquired the power to transform his environment in countless ways and on an unprecedented scale. The United Nations, aware that the protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue, which affects the well-being of people and economic development throughout the world, designated 5TH June as the World Environment Day. The celebration of this day provides us with an opportunity to broaden the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct by individuals, enterprises and communities in preserving and enhancing the environment. Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated all over the world.
Each World Environment Day is organized around a theme that focuses attention on a particularly pressing environmental concern. The theme for 2017, ‘Connecting People to Nature’, urges us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and to think about how we are part of nature and how intimately we depend on it. It challenges us to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship. Billions of rural people around the world spend every working day ‘connected to nature’ and appreciate fully well their dependence on natural water supplies and how nature provides their livelihoods in the form of fertile soil. They are among the first to suffer when ecosystems are threatened, whether by pollution, climate change or over-exploitation. Nature’s gifts are often hard to value in monetary terms. Like clean air, they are often taken for granted, at least until they become scarce. However, economists are developing ways to measure the multi-trillion-dollar worth of many so-called ‘ecosystem services’, from insects pollinating fruit trees to the leisure, health and spiritual benefits of a hike up a valley.
Every World Environment Day has a different global host country, where the official celebrations take place. This year, it is Canada. Its rich and spectacular natural heritage is a source of pride and identity for Canadians. Abundant natural resources also support the country’s economic prosperity – through tourism as well as sustainable use – and the health and well-being of its 36 million inhabitants. World Environment Day is an important part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations. As part of the festivities, Canada offers free passes for its national parks throughout 2017(Culled from the United Nations Official Website – un.org)
What is the Paris Climate Accord?
Some minutes ago, “Your Breakfast Briefing” which sends daily news notifications directly to my personal e-mail address reported that; “Trump Withdraws From the Paris Agreement”. The news comes a week after the incumbent President tweeted that he would make a final decision on either to stay or to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord in the course of this week at the G7 summit in Sicily, Italy. Trump has previously called climate change a “hoax” and blasted the Paris agreement as a “bad deal.”
Obviously, the Paris Agreement is a turning point. The agreement “signals the turning point in the road to a low-carbon economy, a road paved by continued innovation in the technology, energy, finance, and conservation sectors,” said Andrew Deutz, the Conservancy’s director of international government relations. The Paris Agreement was years in the making. When negotiations to address climate change failed in 2009, countries walked away with a better sense of how to make an agreement work. Using past failures as a guide helped launch a “bottoms up” approach in which each country set its own goals, enabling the Paris agreement to work for everyone — the best way to ensure change.
The deal asks any nation signing it, of which there were 196, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to regularly increase their ambitions. The agreement requires that ratifying nations “peak” their greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and pursue the highest possible ambition that each country can achieve. Countries will aim to keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, and for the first time to pursue efforts to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees C. The nations involved in the Paris Climate Accord which is also known as COP 21 agreed upon and required that they would all work towards making sure the Earth’s temperature doesn’t rise above 2 degrees Celsius; this degree change is usually agreed upon as being the tipping point to preventing massive effects of climate change. (However, it should be noted that more recent science indicates a change of even 1 degree Celsius could cause major threats and impacts to coastal communities and developing nations.) Ratifying countries can independently decide on how to lower their emissions. This is a big deal: previous attempts at a climate deal required that similar measures be adopted by all signing parties. However, because economies, cultures, and nations differ so greatly, a common denominator was hard to determine and, therefore, achieve. Allowing ratifying countries to determine the best way forward for them, individually, galvanized support for the agreement. (Source: The Nature Conservancy).
An online publication titled; “Everything you wanted to know about our changing climate but were too afraid to ask” published on March 11, 2016 by Amanda MacMillan explained in board terms how we can individually contribute to the global fight against climate change and global warming. Excerpts; “Wondering how to stop global warming? Reduce your own carbon footprint by following a few easy steps. Make conserving energy a part of your daily routine and your decisions as a consumer. When you shop for new appliances like refrigerators, washers, and dryers, look for products with the government’s Energy Star label; they meet a higher standard for energy efficiency than the minimum federal requirements. When you buy a car, look for one with the highest gas mileage and lowest emissions. You can also reduce your emissions by taking public transportation or carpooling when possible.
And while new federal and state standards are a step in the right direction, much more needs to be done. Voice your support of climate-friendly and climate change preparedness policies, and tell your representatives that transitioning from dirty fossil fuels to clean power should be a top priority—because it’s vital to building healthy, more secure communities”
Conclusively, the World Environment Day (WED) which occurs annually on 5TH June, is the United Nation’s principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Historically, the World Environment Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 – the first day of United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, resulting from discussions on the integration of human interactions and the environment. First held in 1974, it has been a flagship campaign for raising awareness on emerging environmental issues from marine pollution and global warming, to sustainable consumption and wildlife crime. The clarion call is on every one of us to individually and collectively ensure the continuous existence of our host planet through the initiation of environmental friendly initiatives and programs like tree planting, forest and wildlife preservation, reduction of carbon emissions and food shortage occasioned by excessive wastage amongst others on the World Environment Day and always.
God Bless Us All
US President, Donald Trump