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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.

Also Read- Study: Planting Trees Can Help in Stemming Global Warming

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

World Wildlife Conference to Discuss Tackling Illegal Trade in Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora

Tackling the illegal trade in endangered wild fauna and flora and strengthening trade rules for fisheries, timber, and exotic pets

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World, Wildlife, Conference
FILE - Radiated tortoises, originally a native species of southern Madagascar, are on display during an annual flora and fauna expo in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 29, 2010. VOA

Tackling the illegal trade in endangered wild fauna and flora and strengthening trade rules for fisheries, timber, and exotic pets are just a few of the many controversial and emotional issues to be discussed over the next two weeks at a World Wildlife Conference opening in Geneva Saturday.

Thousands of delegates are expected to gather at Geneva’s cavernous Palexpo Exhibition center.  They will be lobbying for their pet wildlife projects through elaborate, imaginative displays and persuasive talk fests.

The 183 Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, is hosting this extravaganza.  CITES sets the rules for international trade in wild animals and plants.

Governments interested in changing the levels of protection that CITES provides have submitted 56 new proposals for discussion.  These, says CITES range from proposals to ensure trade in at-risk species remains sustainable to calls for a ban on trade in species threatened by extinction.

World, Wildlife, Conference
FILE – Conference attendees walk by a display of elephants and other wildlife at The International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, in Honolulu. VOA

One of the hot button issues on the agenda is that of the conservation of African elephants.  Chief of CITES Scientific Services, Tom De Meulenaer, says the debate on trade in elephant ivory has been raging for 25 years.  He says three new proposals will be under debate.

“Two of them are coming from southern African countries and they seek to liberate or to open up trade in ivory again,” said De Meulenaer. “There is a third proposal from other countries in Africa, which is in competition with this one because it seeks to close all trade in ivory.  Obviously, these three proposals are not compatible and will be subject of deliberations by the COP (Conference of the Parties).”

The conference also will consider new wildlife trade rules on an array of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and plants.  A topic likely to generate a lot of interest is whether to exempt musical instruments made of precious wood from trees protected by CITES.

Bass guitars, violins, clarinets and other musical instruments are made wholly or partially from Rosewood and other precious woods.  Organizers promise a fascinating debate with prominent members of the music industry.

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One of the overarching problems threatening the survival of many wild animals and plants is that of illegal international trade in wildlife.  CITES warns the growing involvement of organized crime groups increases the risks faced by enforcement officers such as park rangers.

The conference is not just a talking shop.  It has teeth.  CITES is a legally binding treaty.  So, officials say anything decided at the conference will have a concrete impact on citizens, businesses and governments in 90 days when the new rules come into effect. (VOA)