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Seas Rising Relentlessly but Not the World Leaders

The agenda for the 14th G20 Summit, crafted after series of ministerial meetings, was loaded with issues of trade

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Seas, World, Leaders
Young people are on the streets protesting against inaction, but heads of states huddled together in Osaka, Japan for the G20 meeting with facile jokes, embarrassing handshakes and posed smiles. Pixabay

The seas are rising relentlessly but not the world leaders. Its hot even in the Arctic but decision-makers are cool. Young people are on the streets protesting against inaction, but heads of states huddled together in Osaka, Japan for the G20 meeting with facile jokes, embarrassing handshakes and posed smiles. The agenda for the 14th G20 Summit, crafted after series of ministerial meetings, was loaded with issues of trade and tariffs, free flow of digital data, 5G technology, terrorism, fugitive economic offenders, empowerment of women and slowdown of the global economy. Deliberation on the existential threat for planet Earth posed by climate crises barely found space left in between.

By the end of the summit, a standard G20 Communique was released, that included a couple of sections of compromise text on climate change, among the 43 sections. On climate change, 19 of the G20 members (except the US) reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Climate deal and its irreversibility. The US, as in the last G20 summit, “agreed to disagree” and reiterated their stance of quitting the Paris Climate Agreement.

Against the shocking news of wild fires, heat waves and flash floods that sent tremors on a planetary scale, climate issues were neither discussed nor prioritized the way it demanded. Growth-obsessed and trade-centred countries in the G20 remained focussed on economy and not on ecology which, in fact, dictates the economy.

There was an exception: In the bilateral meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, with a special appearance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, both leaders committed to stronger action on the growing threat of climate change. Macron reportedly refused to sign the G-20 communique that did not highlight the climate crisis.

Seas, World, Leaders
The seas are rising relentlessly but not the world leaders. Pixabay

The 45th G7 summit (of seven advanced global economies) will be held on August 24-26 in the town of Biarritz in France, under the French presidency. After 2000, when it was realized that India and China would advancing faster than expected, the G7 agreed to specially invite five more countries, including India and China, for their summit outreach.

Macron, the host known as a climate saviour, is close to both India and China. He has put the fight against inequality on top of this year’s G7. Macron’s agenda recognises that the climate crisis has its indelible link with inequality which in turn has an axis to terrorism. Climate change hits vulnerable populations even harder, creating more inequality.

“It heaps inequality on inequality and insecurity on insecurity,” says the G7 preparatory document. Climate Change is poised to be back as a major priority of the G7, apart from taxes and terrorism.

The four environmental priorities in the agenda are:

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* Scientific warnings and international action on biodiversity and climate
* Inclusive ecological transition
* Tangible solutions for the climate and biodiversity
* Finance for the preservation of biodiversity

Seas, World, Leaders
Its hot even in the Arctic but decision-makers are cool. Pixabay

These priorities have emerged from scientific consensus in major reports of UN bodies.

The first report that appalled the world was “The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees C”, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It dealt with the scenario when the Earth’s average temperature increases by 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level. The message from that report was very clear, that the rise in temperature has to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid disastrous consequences to coastal areas, island countries and the economy in general.

To avoid such damage, the world needs to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels by 45 per cent by 2030 (from the 2010 levels) and 100 per cent by 2050. That would need much more ambitious pledges by the countries than the promises they submitted for the Paris Climate Agreement. The report also provided a tragic observation that the global average temperature rise has already reached near 1 degree Celsius and, with the current speed of action, the additional rise of half a degree is just about 12 years away- within the lifetime of most of humanity living today.

The second landmark report was by the Inter-governmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the UN’s expert nature panel. It reported that the scale and rapid speed of decline of ecosystems on which our economic growth depends is unprecedented in human history and is likely to continue for at least 50 years. Worse, the speed and scale would accelerate due to inaction on the climate crises.

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But now there is opportunity for introducing a correction factor. A Narendra Modi-Emmanuel Macron moment could happen during the G-7, at their proposed bilateral meeting, for which Macron has invited Modi. Both are known as bold decision-makers. Macron in 2018 declared a carbon-tax. In the 2019-20 Indian budget, the Modi government has declared an additional tax on petrol and diesel, equivalent to carbon-tax.

Both Modi and Macron have launched and progressed on the International Solar Alliance that has the potential to be a game-changer in clean energy solutions to the climate crisis. While Macron has proposed a change in the G7 format and wider consultations with various stakeholders and year-long follow up meetings, Modi has revolutionized the narrative on the way the state leaders can engage in creating action-oriented awareness. He recently participated in an adventurous mission on Discovery Channel that attracted world attention to bio-diversity. After his recent win in the world’s largest election he visited the Himalayas to draw attention to the climate disaster visible in the receding snowlines of the Garhwal Himalayas.

Macron is the most transformative French president since Francois Mitterrand. Professionally an investment banker, he has persuaded eight major asset managers to make climate-friendly investments of $15 trillion. He has coined the counter slogan of “Make the planet great again” in the face of US President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” election slogan.

A Modi and Macron moment during the G7 outreach would surely prove to be correction factor to the unfortunate trend seen at the G20 summit. (IANS)

Next Story

Escalating Consequences of Climate Change Hit Countries Globally

India was ranked fifth vulnerable globally

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Climate
As Climate impacts begin to result in permanent loss and damage across the world, there is still no specific UN climate finance facility to reimburse the loss of land, culture and human lives. Pixabay

The escalating consequences of Climate change are now hitting both rich and poor countries, a report published on Wednesday said. India was ranked fifth vulnerable globally.

The Climate Risk Index 2020, an annual report by Germanwatch, ranks countries according to their vulnerability to extreme weather events.

It was released in the Spanish capital on the sidelines of the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP25 that is being held in the backdrop of climate impact biting globally.

According to the report, India has also been badly affected, ranking fifth in the overall global vulnerability index in 2018, ranked first in terms of fatalities and second in the world in terms of losses in millions of dollars.

India’s overall ranking has drastically fallen from 14th in 2017, to fifth in 2018.

The report shows that extreme weather, linked with climate change, is affecting not only the poorer countries like Myanmar and Haiti, but also some of the world’s richest countries.

Japan is the worst-hit country in 2018, while Germany and Canada were both also in the ‘bottom 10’ i.e. the most affected.

The results reflect the increasing damage caused by heatwaves, which scientists have found are being worsened by climate change.

To explain this drastic fall in ranking in a year, David Eckstein, Policy Advisor (Climate Finance and Investment) with Germanwatch said: “India’s high rank is due to severe rainfall, followed by heavy flooding and landslides that killed over 1,000 people.”

The state of Kerala was especially impacted. The floods were described as the worst in the last 100 years.

Climate
A report shows that extreme weather, linked with climate change, is affecting not only the poorer countries like Myanmar and Haiti, but also some of the world’s richest countries. Pixabay

According to Eckstein, India was struck by two cyclones in October and November 2018 that also nearly killed 1,000 people. Last but not least, India also suffered from extreme heat. While the human death toll was kept considerably low due to public measures, the economic damage was quite severe.

Other countries ranking in the bottom 20 in the overall climate risk categories are the US at 12th, Vietnam at sixth, Bangladesh at seventh and France at 15th.

The report also points to the importance of negotiations at COP25. As climate impacts begin to result in permanent loss and damage across the world, there is still no specific UN climate finance facility to reimburse the loss of land, culture and human lives.

So far, the industrialised countries have refused to even negotiate it.

But at COP25, for the first time, financial support for climate-related loss and damage is high on the agenda.

For the poorest and most vulnerable countries, this climate summit is, therefore, of the utmost importance. They demand that states agree a deal to support those who are suffering, or at least acknowledge the necessity, with a pathway towards real help.

Otherwise the poorest countries will continue to rely on loans to cope with the consequences of climate change, which means they are threatened with excessive debts, undermining often already vulnerable economies.

In the talks that will last till December 13, India has been ambitious in its actions.

Climate
The escalating consequences of Climate change are now hitting both rich and poor countries, a report published on Wednesday said. India was ranked fifth vulnerable globally. Pixabay

It has emphasised that developed countries should take the lead in undertaking ambitious actions and fulfil their climate finance commitments of mobilising $100 billion per annum by 2020 and progressively and substantially scale up their financial support to inform parties for future action through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

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India is also stressing upon the need for fulfilling the pre-2020 commitments by developed countries, and that pre-2020 implementation gaps should not present an additional burden to developing countries in the post-2020 period.

The Indian delegation will be led by Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who is attending the summit from December 9. (IANS)