CLIMATE CHANGE CAN BRING GOVERNMENTS AND CORPORATIONS TOGETHER IN THE FIGHT

CLIMATE CHANGE CAN BRING GOVERNMENTS AND CORPORATIONS TOGETHER IN THE FIGHT

Wealthy countries still tend to ignore the voices – and issues – of the poorer countries, that tend more toward the stringent needs, like education and health care. It’s even more tragic since loss of life due to climate extremes tends to be high in less developed countries. Here, recovery from natural disasters is also slower.

But in 2015, the Paris Agreement went one step further to fixing the discrepancies, while 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal.

 

THE GREATEST COALITION OF ALL TIMES

As the 2015 Agreement was and still forms a bridge between today’s acting policies and climate neutrality, before the end of the century. It’s a long way indeed, but the governments agreed on a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Also, the aim is to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change.

On the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, they admitted that this will take longer for developing countries. But the new approach is to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science.

Starting even before the Paris conference, countries submitted comprehensive national climate action plans. The agreement traces the way to achieving this target, even though these action plans are not yet enough to keep global warming below 2°C. Also, the joining governments agreed to come together every 5 years to set more ambitious targets, as required by science. Also, there was an agreement that each of the parties will report to each other and the public on how well they are doing to implement their targets. They should track progress towards the long-term goal through a robust transparency and accountability system.

Moreover, the 195 countries agreed to strengthen societies’ ability to deal with the impacts of climate change and to provide continued, enhanced international support for adaptation to developing countries. As for the loss and damage issues, members recognized the importance of averting, minimizing and addressing those that are associated with the adverse effects of climate change. Also, they acknowledged the need to cooperate and enhance the understanding, action and support in different areas such as early warning systems, emergency preparedness and risk insurance.

Cities, other regions and local authorities were also invited to address climate change and to scale up their efforts and support actions to reduce emissions, to build resilience and decrease vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change. This also counts for upholding and promotion of regional and international cooperation.

ARE WE ALARMED OR DISMISSIVE?

While climate change may be global, most of the impacts will be local. And sadly, this will almost certainly create beneficial effects for some environments and economies, thus creating winners, but also losers.

All these variables will give rise to dissenting voices in discussions of how to deal with climate change, while world leaders must stay clear-headed to hear these voices carefully. The disparity can be succinctly drawn by two examples. The first is an annual survey of a representative sample of more than 1,000 U.S. residents regarding climate change views in this country — which is a wealthy, developed, democratic nation. An the second is a global survey with more than a million people, of whom 80 percent live in developing countries.

The U.S. survey, started in 2008 and conducted by Yale University and George Mason University – the Global Warming’s Six Americas – divides citizens based on their sense of urgency related to climate change. The six categories are: alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful and dismissive.

Even though the “alarmed” have grown much and the “dismissive” shrunk since 2008, all six categories expressed concern about higher energy prices and an increased government regulation, as a result of actions to fight climate change. However, people from all categories agree that action is needed and say they would support revenue-neutral carbon taxes. And this means there will be more green jobs and a decrease in pollution, by promoting cleaner energy options.

The other survey – My World, conducted by the U.N. and the Overseas Development Institute – predominantly listens to the voices of the people living in less developing countries. This found that climate change is not a high-priority issue for them. They rather assign the highest priority to education, health care, and honest, responsible governments, but also to increasing the job opportunities.

But the developed countries of the U.N. formulated the Sustainable Development Goals, assigning top priority to the eradication of poverty worldwide by 2030 – this being defined as an income of less than $1.25 a day. But the My World survey shows that people measure poverty relative to the average income of their community.

COMPANIES JOIN THE FIGHT

Many large corporations like Pepsico, the United Parcel Service and Siemens have been developing and implementing their own schedules to reduce their emissions and energy consumption.

But the Global North-South divide seems to be the most serious impediment to worldwide actions on climate change, that threatens everybody. Earth cannot be made safer just for the developed countries, as climate-change impacts begin to multiply and grow.

“The basic purpose of the Climate Statement is to articulate a shared concern that financial markets don’t take sufficient account of climate-related risks and opportunities relevant to future stakeholder value,” said Jane Stevensen (Managing Director of the Climate Disclosure Standards Board).

“And this is largely because of a lack of sufficient information regarding climate-related risks and opportunities in mainstream corporate reports.”

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