Today is the international day of the United Nations. The only global decision-making body we have among countries.
In 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Agreement which aimed to hold global average temperature rise to 2°C of pre industrial-era, and pursue efforts to reach 1.5°C. It might not seem much, but it is a necessity for life on earth as we know it. In order to remain safe and minimize the adverse effects of Climate change, global temperatures would have to be limited to 2°C.
However, a very alarming report was released earlier this month by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report presented a scary picture of Climate change effects due to increased global temperature rise and stated the need to limit global temperatures to 1.5°C instead of the initial 2°C.
It also indicated that current temperature rise is at 1°C globally above pre-industrial and it will take just 12 years to hit the new limit of 1.5°C if emissions continue at the current rate. This translates, we have just 12 years before disaster sets in!
The good news is that if we all do our part, we can halt this development. We, human beings, have created this situation, and we can also solve it.
Ever since the commencement of the industrial revolution, human activities have resulted in increasing global temperatures caused by emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These gases act as thermal blankets that trap the sun's radiation being reflected by the earth's surface, warming the earth in the process. Most common greenhouse gases (ghgs) include methane, carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons etc. Of all ghgs, Carbon dioxide is the most emitted by human activity.
Continuous warming as a result of trapping of reflected radiations has resulted in extreme weather changes (Climate change) such as droughts, floods, sea level rise, biodiversity loss, decline in food security and influx of diseases and pests. These have often linked to migration and increasing poverty levels.
Humans emit Carbon dioxide mostly through burning of fossil fuels.Carbon dioxide stored underground for many years is now pumped up and spread to the atmosphere from usage of oil and coal.
To some point, nature is able to store some of the carbon emission. Trees capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When we cut down trees, or destroy more land, for whatever reasons, the gas is, however, emitted back into the atmosphere. Concrete production process is the 3rd ranking producer of man-made Carbon dioxide in the world after transport and coal burning for energy generation. All these anthropogenic activities have brought about the temperature rises as we see today.
There is, therefore, urgent need for individuals and governments, as well as CSO's and other private agencies, to rise up and take actions to reduce emissions of ghgs.
Currently the largest emission is coming from combustion of fossil fuels for coal, petroleum and natural gas. There is the need to put an end to this and switch to more use of renewable energy sources (which are only 20% in use now). Even though it is technically feasible to reduce emissions, the major challenge lies with political will.
The consequences of overlooking this warning by the IPCC would be too grave to deal with especially for developing countries who will suffer most the adverse effects of Climate change, due to our heavy dependence on the Agricultural sector, and the lack of funding to deal with these Catastrophes.
We as individuals can start by moving away from plastic products. Plastic is made from oil, and when plastic waste is burned it releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We must also come together and raise our voice to make our policy makers accountable. It is soon budget time. It is about time Ghana shows its efforts to curb its carbon footprint in the budget for the benefit of all Ghanaians.
There is the need to collectively come together for Climate Action by practicing climate-smart agriculture, opting for clean transport systems, putting price on carbon prints and more importantly, eating locally grown food to reduce the energy required to produce and import large-scale foodstuffs.
Governments must especially rise up to make and implement strict policies to ensure reduction in carbon footprints and impose high taxes to that effect. We must act now and not wait until it’s too late. We only have one earth and we need to save her - that is what we and our nations have agreed to in the Paris agreement. Make it happen!!!
Ellen Lindsey Awuku
Young Reporters for the Environment-Ghana
FB: Young Reporters for the Environment-Ghana
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