Every passing year makes us realise that this planet needs some emergency measures to tackle environmental issues, mainly climate change, with most adaptive policy interventions which incorporates social factors as well. 2018 was hitting the headlines throughout the year with extreme weather conditions, like heatwaves across northern hemisphere, unexpected and devastating wildfires in the US, drought in Europe, floods and typhoons in South-Asia.

World Meteorological Organizsation states that 2018 was the fourth hottest year over the record of past 50 years which actually confirms the trend of rising temperature in a periodic way. This periodicity gives clear signals of continuous effects on the climate as a whole. Rise in the sea level, droughts, floods, sterner storms and heatwaves are expected to show their rage more strenuously.

The IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Cimate, which is the international body to monitor climate change with panel of world leading scientists and are producing regular reports on the state of the climate science since 1988. According to the latest starkest warning issued by the IPCC in 2018, this planet will face devastating effects if allows climate change to take hold. With a comprehensive overview, this report shows how the future will look like if we went beyond 1.5 C of warming. For most of the people this figure does not sound like much as it is hard for them to notice temperature difference of 1.5 C. But when it comes to the climate terms, 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial level is far more than sufficient to take all of us to the danger zone specially developing nations like Pakistan which is 8th most vulnerable nations towards climate change. Mass destruction of the Coral reefs, extinction of some species, and substantial decrease in agricultural productivity across the globe, are just some of the effects of this change.

This is the future we seriously need to surpass in any case. But COP 24 which was expected to be the landmark conference for climate change ended up 2018 in just a vogue. It shows little urgency as heeded by various climate scientists. However, spending days where every minute for the negotiators should be very important on the settlement of the rulebook for putting Paris agreement by excluding most justifiable actions needed is irrational.

Aligned with the scientific advice from the top researchers, it is imperative for countries to revamp their commitments to achieve national targets by 2020 primarily; nevertheless Poland showed very little obligations to motivate countries. Current warnings from the IPCC states that to avoid 1.5 C degree rise we only have 12 years to bring down the global emissions under control. This means that we need revolutionary shifts is our global economic systems which is pretty challenging task and cannot be achieved without incorporating societal factors yet global emissions level is moving upward again after a decade when it was pretty much stable.

The world needs to recognise that big powers like America, China, India and Russia can play crucial role to limit global emissions level. In contrast, America played very naïve role at talks as Donald Trump is all set to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and hold a side event at the COP where he and his allies celebrated bright future with the coal.

Looking through these perspectives, 2018 was not good relatively. However, providentially, 2019 could prove to be a breakthrough as public opinion over the cause is getting voice with increased mobilisation and awareness. Moreover politicians and businessmen are paying attention and trying to be more environment friendly as it is in vogue, but at least they are doing it. I believe there will be a series of high-profile events that will engage the public and governments and may provide a better way forward than was managed last year.

Most important and impactful among them is the promise of António Guterres, the UN secretary General that he will hold a summit of the leaders around the world and will make them realise dangers of the climate change we are heading on. According to the Guterres, it is very immoral and suicidal if we compromise climate change warning by not taking urgent and firm actions which are adequate with the scale of the problem. This summit if rightly put will bring leaders under the spot and public pressure with increased and organised coalitions of the civil society. Women, who are most vulnerable to the climate change should be highlighted as heroes, as women are taking climate cause to another level. Plus role of the young people who are forced to live with the consequences of their elders should be highlighted as well.

Another example of bright future could be investing in the green business. All countries should take lead in it specially big emitters, yet French president Emmanuel Macron is all set to hold a One World summit with common future but different responsibilities. This One World summit will focus on investing on the green business area to take the leading role by investing on the projects which will limit global emissions and will help investors to think out of the box and to change the way of energy usage.

When talking with Manager Technical, National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, Asad Mehmood, he mentions that rapid reduction in the Green and renewable energy cost around the world which is now competitive with fossil fuels is encouraging investors to move their money out of the fossil fuels stocks. He further reiterates on the fact that what Pakistan needs to do in the world of renewable energy to compete with the world in this regard. Asad said that Pakistan has huge potential to tap renewable energy with zero waste policy. Only the need of the hour is to restructure national conservation authorities primarily. NEECA needs to be strengthened with skilled manpower which can help Pakistan mitigate GHG emissions with least cost and can generate thousands of jobs for young energy/environment professionals. Another opportunity for Pakistan is to extend its technical services related to the RE & EE to the least developing nations.

To cut the long story short, most of the campaigns from civil society are set to increase their momentum in 2019. Through increased public opinions, well publicised and effective movements, more and more people are showing their will power to address climate change and are repudiating silently to comply in overlooking the dangers to the climate.

 

The writer is an environmentalist with M. Phil degree from LSE.