All commentaries warning us that we are two-thirds of the way towards apocalypse because of global warning skip the most pertinent point: why have the efforts not taken off so far? We did not really need the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to learn that the situation would have grown direr after Donald Trump took over as US President. The IPCC report feels it is quite credible that global temperatures are set to rise above pre-industrial levels by 3 degrees C. To put this in perspective, any rise by even half that amount will cause many insects and plants to disappear. A 3 degree rise will make island nations like Maldives disappear, greatly shrink the coastline and cause drought in many parts of the world.
Clearly, the impact will not be felt only by the polluting nations alone. There will be equitable distribution of misery all over the world. But what is not equitable is the developed world’s message to the third world to roll back emission levels at the cost of jeopardising its own growth prospects. There is a resounding silence on the need to compensate developing countries for making expensive adjustments to their thermal plants, refineries, etc. Without being compensated, the resulting higher costs will price their products out of the market.
The rich need to sacrifice monetarily to atone for their wayward ways that has brought our planet to the brink. Unfortunately, the rightward shift in politics has swelled the ranks of climate sceptics. A recent addition, Scott Morrison of Australia, will soon be joined by Brazil’s newly elected President, who too wants to pull out of the Paris Accord. Their attitude of denying any responsibility for the effects of climate change has made the task tougher. India, as part of its Paris commitment, will install 175 gigawatts of renewable power by 2022. These and other mitigation steps require massive amounts from domestic and foreign sources. While the world awaits better sense to prevail in the White House, this issue needs to be laundered and sealed.