By: Dipak Kurmi
Climate change, driven by anthropogenic activities, is an undeniable and urgent global crisis. The Earth’s interconnected systems are experiencing escalating environmental disturbances, putting humanity at great risk. The need to address this emerging problem has never been more critical. The recent reports from the United Nations (UN) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) paint a grim picture of the current state of our climate, emphasizing the dire consequences of inaction. As responsible stewards of our planet, we must act decisively to curb greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The State of the Global Climate:
The UN reports, including the ‘State of the Global Climate 2020’ and the ‘State of the Global Climate 2022’ released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), provide a comprehensive assessment of climate change. These reports highlight the continued rise of greenhouse gas emissions, soaring temperatures, sea level rise, ocean heat and acidification, and the alarming increase in extreme weather conditions. Droughts, floods, and heatwaves have become pervasive, inflicting escalating costs worldwide. The data indicate that global mean temperature has reached record highs in the past eight years, with no signs of abating. Sea ice levels in Antarctica have plummeted, and Europe has witnessed the disintegration of glaciers.
The IPCC Synthesis Report 2023:
The IPCC’s Climate Change Synthesis Report 2023 unequivocally confirms that human activities, primarily the emission of greenhouse gases, have caused global warming. The global surface temperature has already risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This alarming trend emphasizes the urgent need for action. The report presents an overview of the widespread impacts and risks associated with climate change, compelling us to address this crisis collectively.
Climate Change and Human Rights:
Climate change not only poses a significant threat to the environment but also undermines basic human rights. In 2021, young people filed a petition at the European Court of Human Rights, asserting that climate inaction violates human rights. They highlighted the Energy Charter Treaty, which can impede public policies aimed at combating environmental change. The UNFCCC has recognized the interconnectedness of human rights and climate change, aiming to integrate human rights into climate action. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has expanded its efforts globally to promote rights-based climate actions.
Responsibility and Action:
Under existing international human rights law, states and global organizations bear the responsibility to protect people from foreseeable dangers. Mitigating the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and providing means for adaptation to rapid climate changes are essential obligations. The poorest countries and vulnerable island communities, despite having minimal contributions to climate change, suffer the most. As consumers of products from polluting industries, we all share the responsibility for the damages inflicted upon our planet. We must collectively work towards refraining from practices that harm our environment, ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.
Climate change is not a myth but an imminent threat to our planet. The evidence presented in the reports from the UN and IPCC demonstrates the urgent need for global action. We must prioritize active mitigation efforts, transition to sustainable energy sources, promote conservation, and adapt to a rapidly changing climate. Preserving our home, Earth, requires a concerted effort from governments, organizations, and individuals worldwide. While we cannot revert to pre-industrial times, we can prevent further devastation and safeguard the future. It is time for us to unite and tackle the climate abyss head-on, for the sake of our planet and future generations. (The writer is a journalist & commentator based in Guwahati, he can be reached at email@example.com)