Climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying – claims the latest assessment report by the IPCC. The AR6’s first working group report explains the science behind the change and will be followed by impact and mitigation solutions in the year 2022.
The report’s findings make a glaring reaffirmation of the fact that it is indeed human activities that have caused irreparable damage to the planet’s regulatory functions resulting in severe heatwaves, heavy rainfall, and droughts. Acute weather events will continually become more common and extreme as the decade unfolds. The UN’s chief has labeled it “code red for humanity”.
CNBC AFRICA spoke to Dr. Leena, the deputy director-general of IIASA, on the need for action and the imposition of corrective policies in developed nations to cushion the impact on developing nations as they are the first and most adversely affected by climate change, as well as least responsible for the travesty.
The report affirms the impact of human influence on climate change, accelerated by black fossil fuel emission, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, over-fishing, and other such activities of the modern era. The report also states that in order to reverse the impact on the Earth, global carbon emissions must drop to a net-zero by 2050.
Dr. Leena points out that a number of nations have committed to becoming carbon zero by the same timeline but also asserts that it will not be achieved soon enough.
“Target is not global net-zero. The approach is country by country which might not add up to a global net-zero emission target. This target does not translate to a uniform target for every nation in the world”.
Upon being questioned on the moral and historical responsibility of industrial nations in acting firsthand as well as helping developing nations achieve sustainability targets.
Dr. Leena responded, ” It is unfair to put the pressure on developing nations who have little to do with the current state of climate health. But it is important to understand what would be more unfair”.
As global climate change will cause misery across the planet, it is important to work together while ensuring sustainable economic growth in developing nations. The question becomes: How can developed nations share the burden with lower-income nations?
It is apparent, that the transition to 100% clean energy for developing nations will come at a higher cost and over a longer time frame as compared to developed nations.
In response to sharing the burden, Dr. Leena pointed out ” Who bears the cost for climate change has been discussed in the last 25 COP meetings and where does the historical responsibility lie. This is why global net-zero emission cannot be uniformly applied across all nations”
Revised and stricter policy for mitigation cannot be enforced on nations! This poses a dilemma to every nation as they must find it within themselves to support the cause and impose regulations on themselves.
“As far as the issue of investment and standard assets in developing nations is concerned, the transition to renewable energy is becoming smoother with lower costs and more opportunity and access.”
However, the renewable industry is not yet capable of matching the scale of the required transition globally. This transition will be even more difficult to apply in rural and remote regions as compared to the developed world. Thereby raising the question of the responsibility of high-income nations towards climate change mitigation.
“A mechanism will have to be designed at a global level to help nations that are unfairly penalized for Climate Change impact,” says Dr. Leena Srivastava.
She asserts that effective penal methods combined with incentives, heavier taxes, and a competitive landscape for renewables are pushing renewables well past fossil fuels. Governments must enforce stricter regimes, greater incentives, and heavier taxes on pollution, as well as a more stringent application of the popular “Polluter to pay principle”. This and more are the only way we could get closer to global targets in emission reduction and subsequent mitigation of climate change.