Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Divergent Stances on a Global Concern

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Divergent Stances on  a Global Concern

Reports revealed another diver gence by world main actors on a global issue. It was reported that western nations had clashed with Russia and developing countries on Wednesday over whether climate change was a security matter meriting the attention of the Security Council, the most powerful UN body. The dispute came as the council formally debated the environment for the first time in four years and followed dire warnings by a senior UN official that global warming was speeding up, with unpredictable consequences.

Following decades-long efforts to overcome world's big challenges, world leaders have already confirmed failure of detached, ephemeral and short term activities to fight world's big challenges such as poverty, illiteracy, fatal and rampant diseases, climate change, etc. Therefore, the world's leaders at the U.N.'s Millennium Summit in 2000 set the Millennium Development Goals consisting of eight specific goals to be achieved by 2015. They believe that the world countries' collective efforts can facilitate meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals. Global warming has been one of the main concerns discussed in global and regional conferences.

To address the issue, the UN has embarked on establishing several mechanisms. Treaties on climate change and the possible redressing mechanisms are of the main actions taken by UN general assembly, UNSC and UN environment-related bodies. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is one of the mechanisms set by the United Nations to reduce carbon emission and decelerate climate change.

With 195 Parties, UNFCCC has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties. Under the Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

UNFCCC's last meeting was held in Bonn, Germany more than a month ago. Speaking in the conference, the UN's climate change chief said that the negotiations had made clear advances on key issues and were also identifying areas that would require high-level political leadership ahead of the annual conference in Durban. A central political question that was crystallized during that session was how further emission reduction commitments by developed countries can be taken forward in the broader context of the emerging climate change regime.

Referring to the link between negotiations on mitigation under the UN Climate Change Convention and mitigation under the Kyoto Protocol, Ms. Figueres said, "Governments are realizing that this link needs to be dealt with to get to a global solution and that will require high-level leadership during the year." She said that the Kyoto Protocol remained critically important because it contained key rules to quantify and monitor efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and important market-based mechanisms that enable cost-effective mitigation. Warning against the possibility of a looming regulatory gap between Kyoto Protocol commitment periods, she said, "Governments can double their efforts and come forward with middle ground solutions and options which are acceptable to all sides."

A series of catastrophic natural incidents around the globe remind us about the lethal occurrence of climate change. Scientists said that last year was the hottest on record globally. The clean and green Earth we had inherited from previous generations in the course of thousands of years is now being threatened by global warming, climate change and pollution. Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather over periods of time.

Increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation has resulted to the global warming calamity. The greenhouse effect is a natural mechanism that retains the heat emitted from the earth's surface. The challenges of mitigating climate change include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, halting deforestation, curbing land degradation, fighting sea level rise, preventing droughts and floods, and retrofitting buildings to make them more energy-efficient. The menace is now in reality understood by all developed and underdeveloped nations but how they have reacted to that seems not reasonable and experts believe greater efforts are required to appropriately address this deadly challenge.

Experts say that the current undisputed scientific evidence shows that even with 50-80 percent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, there is a high probability that we will not stay below a 2-degree rise in global temperatures which is considered already dangerously high. The annals suggest that the problem of climate change is little by little getting serious; the problem is growing more rapidly than expected.

In 2000, the visitors to the North Pole first reported that the thick ice that has for ages covered the Arctic Ocean at the pole had turned to water. At least for the time being, an ice-free patch of ocean about a mile wide had opened at the very top of the world, something that had presumably never seen before by humans and was clear evidence that global warming would be real and already affecting climate. Later in 2008, the scientists warned that the North Pole could be ice-free rapidly if the industrialized nations did not care about global climate change.

Recent assessment reports have concluded that the earth's average temperature has risen more than 0.7 degrees in the period from 1906 to last years. The warming is stronger over land areas than over the sea, and accordingly it is strongest in the northern hemisphere. At the same time occurrences of heat waves and violent downpours have also increased, the oceans have risen, and the ice at the world's poles and on its mountains has begun to melt.

All of these effects are predictable in the event of global warming. Predicting the consequences of global warming is one of the really difficult tasks for the world's climate researchers. Many of the effects of global warming have been well-documented, and observations from real life are very much consistent with earlier predictions. It is the precise extent that is difficult to predict. Among the effects that can be predicted are: more droughts and more, less ice and snow, more extreme weather incidents, rising sea level and some other troublesome consequences.

Reports say that the average temperature will continue to rise, but that the extent and the duration of this rise, and the severity of its consequences, depend on how quickly and how effectively emissions of greenhouse gases can be restricted and, over time, reduced. Kyoto Protocol was established for the purpose of reducing greenhouse gases and thus helps to prevent further rapid climate change.

The UN believes that climate change poses a threat to the achievement of the MDGs. As said, the problem is mostly dependent on the developed countries type of practices regarding the issue of global climate change. The question, "How the industrialized nations will respond to the problem and to what extent will they reduce their emissions?" is remaining in high ambiguity; the passage of time will give the correct answer.

As yet, one of the challenges on the way to implement agreements on climate change has been the financing issue. Experts say additional financing is needed to address the mitigation and adaptation aspects of climate change. Insufficient financial resources to implements plans also depend on how the world industrialized countries approach the problem.

Nasruddin Memati is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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