‘Race we must win’

GUTTERES – It’s a fight we must win

By Alick Ponje, in New York, USA:

United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres, wants his granddaughters to live in a habitable world even after he is gone.

But such a wish highly banks on what current leaders do to avert a possible catastrophe set off by acts which are already resulting into some of the worst disasters in recent memory.


So, Monday, the UN chief hosted the 2019 climate summit to ramp up commitments to slash emissions that are resulting into adverse weather patterns and other threats to human survival.

“I want to hear about how we are going to stop the increase in emissions by 2020, and dramatically reduce emissions to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century,” said Gutteres ahead of the summit.

The targets are ambitious.


But “it is a race we can win; it is a race we must win”, according to the UN chief who has also been mobilising political and economic energy at the highest levels for climate-change solutions which experts state are also essential for the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

He called on world leaders to come to New York with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing dangerous gases that are precipitating climate change.

The summit also brought together governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other international organisations to develop ambitious solutions in areas such as global transition to renewable energy, resilience and adaptation to climate change impacts and sustainable agriculture and management of forests and oceans.

A day before, on Sunday, climate scientists issued a ‘United in Science’ report in which they show that over the last several years, sea levels have been rising, planetary warming increasing, ice sheets shrinking and carbon pollution accelerating.

The report also shows that emissions into the Earth’s atmosphere continue to surge and that countries must triple their 2015 pledges to keep global warming below 2° Celsius.

The researchers are predicting fiercer hurricanes, heat waves, droughts, floods and related food scarcity and health impacts if significant action is not taken.

“The report provides a unified assessment of the state of our Earth system under the increasing influence of anthropogenic climate change, of humanity’s response thus far and of the far-reaching changes that science projects for our global climate in the future.

The scientific data and findings presented in the report represent the very latest authoritative information on these topics,” said the Science Advisory Group to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit.

“It highlights the urgent need for the development of concrete actions that halt the worst effects of climate change.”

The Science Advisory Group comprises individuals described as highly recognised and respected natural and social scientists, with expertise in different aspects of climate change, including on mitigation and adaptation.

The report, which was coordinated by the World Meteorological Organisation, aims to present a “transparent envelope” of authoritative and actionable cutting-edge science.

And such realities must be a cause of worry for countries such as Malawi that have already been experiencing the adverse effects of climate change in the past five or six years.

Earlier this year, floods and storms devastated parts of the country’s southern region and claimed at least 60 lives in the process.

This has resulted into a slowdown in economic progress as resources were being channelled towards interventions to keep survivors on their feet.

Yet still, in the presence of all the scientific evidence that climate change is a reality that has to be checked now, several countries are implementing or supporting projects that are the perfect antitheses of efforts “in the right direction” and Malawi is one of them.

“Of course, it is the big economies that are contributing the highest threat to sustainable living, but every country must work on its nationally determined contributions [NCDs] to combating climate change.

“Every single effort in the right direction is worthwhile. After all, the effects of climate change are being felt by everyone—the rich and the poor,” said Zambian youth climate activist Bertha Tembo.

In Malawi, there are activists who also argue that government’s plans to go ahead with a coal-fired power plant—which will be churning out the ‘detested’ emissions—is throwing spanners in efforts to contribute towards fighting climate change.

Despite government’s insistence that the plant will have systems that will reduce the emission of dangerous gases into the atmosphere, some environmentalists still charge that the country should rather be exploring sustainable energy sources.

“Of course, a coal-fired power plant will produce a lot of energy in one place. Solar and wind energy are not very viable in Malawi as studies have shown. But these can still work on small scale and that means more people will have access to electricity,” says researcher Francis Fatchi.

He adds that liberalising the power sector is another way of encouraging more corporations to invest in clean and sustainable energy projects.

“There is also that opportunity of tapping from the Southern Region Power Pool and I understand that we are working on that as a nation,” he adds.

DEADLY—Gases from coal-fired power plants

A coal exit report by Climate Analytics released Monday, based on the latest Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, states that phasing out coal from the electricity sector is the single most important step to achieving the desired reduction in warming.

According to the report, regardless of region, coal use for power generation needs to peak by 2020 and be reduced quickly afterwards.

“Unabated coal-fired power generation globally should be reduced to 80 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and phased out before 2040, some 10 years earlier than previous estimates,” the report says.

It adds that between 2030 and 2040, all the regions should phase out coal with the first being OECD countries, Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union countries by 2031; followed by Latin America by 2032, Middle East and Africa by 2034 and finally non-OECD Asia by 2037, completing a global phase-out before 2040.

And according to Fatchi, having enough clean and sustainable energy is one important and sure way through which Malawi can achieve is NDCs “despite that there still is more that needs to be done”.

The in their ‘United in Science’ report, experts are stating that current NDCs are not enough to lower global emissions to desired levels, thus the need to triple the ambitions.

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker