Achieving SDG 13: Climate Action
Abdul Rehman Nawaz | Punjab, Pakistan
"I don't want your hope. I don't want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic and act as if the house was on fire." - Greta Thunberg
Now imagine, you bought your favorite strawberry flavored ice – cream, and in an instant, it melts away. You’re not even able to enjoy a simple ice-cream and this is just the very beginning of how disastrous climate change is for human beings. Climate change is an issue that isn’t targeting any specific country. We can safely say that climate change isn’t biased like aliens are (targeting just one country, always). Climate change negatively extends to all regions. The usage of fossil fuels since humans discovered them has been actively contributing to the rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, bringing dangers of its own with it.
Action for climate change is a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG-13) taken on by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The UNDP has been making efforts at the international level to bring a sense of uniformity among different states to take actions that can minimize or reverse the damages that climate change has brought. Hence, to solve the problem of climate change, collective efforts are required.
Climate change is disastrous as we all know. It is said that it should have existed at the time when the RMS Titanic crashed into the iceberg because then there would have been no iceberg, but that’s very selfish I believe. Saving a few, at the cost of the millions of people?
Climate change does a lot. For starters, it made a hole in the Ozone layer of Earth which further leads to skin-related complications. As a result, more UV radiations are being let in, which will lead to a rise in temperature. Due to these rising temperatures, glaciers, ice caps, and weather patterns are drastically changing in a negative manner. This is leading to extreme heat in summers and extreme cold in winters as well. As the snow on mountain peaks melts due to high temperatures, it raises sea levels which will lead to the sinking of cities like Venice and and other coastal and island cities.
Action on Climate Change:
Now, comes the most important question, what is being done to curb climate change? As we all know, climate change is considered a silent threat to all the States in the world, equally. It is believed that any delay in taking action against climate change will bring consequences that won’t and can’t be reversed. The suffering from climate change will ultimately affect everyone, but unfortunately, as of right now, countries that contribute the most to climate change are not facing consequences as dire as those who do not come nearly as close.
The basis for action on climate change for countries was outlined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol 1997 which operationalizes the UNFCCC. States from all over the globe have ratified these treaties and have made attempts to take climate action accordingly.
On an International level, States are shifting to cleaner ways of producing electricity so the burning of fossil fuels can be minimized. They have also put in place restrictions for deforestation, among other actions, but there is still a lot to be done. China is the Number One contributor to GHG’s, failed to make any pledges to reduce its carbon footprint but as its economy grows, it promises to be more efficient in its usage of energy. The U.S has also pledged to reduce its carbon footprint and it does so by putting in place a standard for fuel efficiency for vehicles to reduce carbon emissions.
Since 1990, Russia has been successfully made an effort to reduce its carbon footprint by 15% by making wiser choices and making eco-friendly policies. Although there are also States like India, which is the 3rd highest emitter of GHG’s, followed the footsteps of their neighbor, China, and failed to pledge to control and to reduce their carbon footprint because doing so would hurt their growing economy. However, India is also 20% energy efficient in its usage. But overall, while most States do recognize the threats of climate change and they are making some efforts, it is not nearly enough to mitigate climate change completely and prevent further irreversible damage from take place.
Again, the effects of climate change are real and are rapidly expanding. On an individual level, climate change is altering the patterns of how people live. It is affecting crops that we eat, the water that we drink, and the air that we breathe. There’s still a fair amount of people who are unaware of or deny the tragic effects of climate change to serve their temporary economic interests, demonstrating that there is still a lot of work to be done.
To raise awareness, Mr. Ebadat Ur Rehman Babar, a student pursuing an MPhil at NUST and an environmentalist at heart, is working with his friend night and day to help people reduce their carbon footprint and raise awareness among those who aren’t aware of climate change too. He is leading an international organizational chapter whose members are from all walks of life. They are holding sessions on climate action, holding public walks in this regard, and using public transport to minimize the C02 in the atmosphere. He also runs a blog and furthers his voice to his colleagues, social friends, relatives to act responsibly and act wisely.
To conclude, for States to be effective in taking measures and form policies which are eco-friendly and are not driven by ego or by monetary motives, we need to start from the individual self. We need to change how we do things personally so our representatives at national and international forums have a reason to act accordingly. It is up to us to drive structural change and climate action through our advocacy and grassroots-level work.