Climate change update: consistent global actions urgently needed as we are running out of time

Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, briefs the press
© UNclimatechange, 2018 / Source: Flickr – UNFCCC

Record high temperatures and extreme weather events across the world urge leaders to focus more on climate actions that will stop temperatures increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels through greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

The progress at the Bangkok conference last week was not consequential leaving gaps at the completion of the preparations ahead of 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which will be held in Katowice, Poland next December.

However, the next important round of high level climate discussions are taking place today in San Francisco among participants from around the world in the three-day Global Climate Action Summit. Leaders and business people gather at this meeting to provide the confidence to governments to ‘step up’ and trigger this next level ambition sooner rather than later.

As the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stated last Monday, the need for immediate global action is imperative in order to reverse the disastrous consequences of climate change.

Extreme weather conditions

Till now extreme weather events around the globe, including floods in southern India, wildfires in the western United States and heatwaves across much of the northern hemisphere, have occurred during this year which have caused adverse environmental impacts. The increasing frequency and severity of all these events can be linked to the fact that climate is being affected severely by the human activities. Furthermore, the Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Change Patricia Espinosa had stated on this burning issue: “We must keep an eye on the future. As the superstorms and monsoon flooding of last year and the extreme heat and extreme cold of this year show – we still have a long way to go to deliver on the promise of the Paris Climate Change Agreement”.

Bangkok climate meeting: more progress to be made

The outcome of the six-day Bangkok climate meeting was not conclusive as regards the guidelines to meet the reduction of the global greenhouse emissions is concerned. The representatives of the countries which attended the conference didn’t finalise a clear text due to the fact that there were several disagreements regarding the financing of the developing countries on how to achieve the goals. What is more, Patricia Espinosa mentioned at the closing speech that all parties need to contribute to the achievement of the climate targets very promptly. More specifically, the Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change said: “In Bangkok, there has been uneven progress on the elements of the climate change regime that countries are working towards. Clearly, we need to increase climate action significantly. Clearly, fully implementing the Paris Agreement is the way to do this in a balanced, coordinated manner that leaves nobody behind.”

Global Climate Action Summit: ambition for accelerated actions

The Global Climate Action Summit takes place in September 12-14 and thousands of people are expected to participate among which international and local leaders from states, regions, cities, businesses, investors and civil society. The aim of this event is to underscore the urgent need for action as climate change is affecting each and every one of us. The fact that there are people and businesses in the US which support the Paris agreement, despite the decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw from this pact, is still promising.

Jerry Brown, governor of California, is going to co-chair the meeting together with other prestigious personalities such as Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment, Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, Anand Mahindra, Chair of the Mahindra Group, Michael Bloomberg, U.N. Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action, Xie Zhenhua, Special Representative for Climate Change Affairs of China and Jyathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. All together will have the opportunity to add tremendous pressure to the participating countries to respect the accord and develop the final text of the Paris agreement rulebook.

Out of time?

It is of vital importance that the rulebook is finalised by the end of the year at the COP24 in Katowice in order to maintain concrete hopes of effectively and timely tackling climate change. Time is obviously running out and global leadership should take initiatives as soon as possible in order to make the environment greener and more sustainable. Developed countries have to step up and provide financial means to developing ones so that the expected climate goals are consistently achieved.

All in all, the intensity and frequency of the exceptional weather events that have been taking place over the last years together with the substantiated warning of scientists about the global climate change has to awaken every single one, individually and collectively, to contribute by all means to the mother of all battle against climate change.

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