The United Nations (U.N.) climate talks were saved from a near collapse by a last minute deal in Lima last month, but questions remain on how governments can come up with a new formula to overcome the rich-poor divide between countries with a year to go before a landmark pact is supposed to be adopted in Paris in 2015.
The 1992 U.N. climate change convention that countries have “common but differentiated responsibilities” to tackle climate change was noted in Lima, but how to interpret and bring it in practice is going to be critical as countries set themselves emission targets for the Paris agreement.
In Lima, negotiators listed things that countries “may” want to include in their pledges, such as time frames, base years and methods for calculating emissions as a precursor to the Paris meet before which all countries are supposed to present their plans to control emissions.
Though agreed in 2011 that goals set in Paris would be “applicable to all,” many developing countries worry the emission controls will stymie their economic growth, while rich countries resist any firm commitments of money to help poor countries tackle climate change.
Environmental groups are worried the outcome of the Paris talks will be a purely voluntary system where both developed and developing countries propose weak voluntary actions without regard to the fact that emissions keep rising every year.
Climate impacts ranging from rising sea levels and increasingly freakish weather are becoming more noticeable as warming continues. Last year could go down as the hottest on record.
Surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century under all assessed emission scenarios. It is very likely that heat waves will occur more often and last longer, and that extreme precipitation events will become more intense and frequent in many regions. The ocean will continue to warm and acidify, and global mean sea level will rise.
This issue has a mix of articles that analyze the global threat and highlight the efforts in our country to deal with it, whether it’s the Bal Urja Rakshak Mission initiated in Haryana for bringing about a change in society through children regarding efficient use of energy, climate change and sustainable development, or the story of Dharnai in Bihar, which declared independence from darkness and anonymity with Greenpeace’s first solar-powered micro-grid.
There are informative articles on the Western Ghats, which are second only to the Eastern Himalayas as a treasure trove of biological diversity in India, and about a book that traces the evolution of political, socio-cultural and religious attitudes and administrative policies that had an impact on the forest ecology of Maharashtra.
While there is little ordinary folks could do regarding the emission cuts of rich countries that aren’t enough to offset fast growth in China, India and other emerging economies, they can certainly act locally. For climate change is a real threat!