In all the excitement of the Greek referendum, the Chinese stock market crash and the never ending scams in South Asia, a lot of us may have missed a very important bit of news last week on the climate change front.
Climate change history 101: A coordinated political response to the issue of global warming started at the Rio Summit in 1992 with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Quite simply, the framework sought action to stabilize concentration of green house gases (GHG) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with climate system”. Annual Conference of Parties (COP) was held to review progress and implementation. Some of the COP’s to remember are COP3 where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, COP11 for the Montreal Action plan and COP17 where the Green Climate Fund was created. Keeping in mind the urgency of the climate change crisis, the pat 20+ years has not led to any legally binding agreement. Not hard to guess why: Parties could not agree on the distribution of carbon reduction commitments and more significantly , where the money to deal with problems caused by climate change should come from.
Back to our important bit of news that most of us missed out. US, China and Brazil (among the top carbon emitting nations globally) announced new carbon reduction commitments. A giant leap forward as these countries pledged to get 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030 (hydropower excluded). There was yet more joy as Brazil announced that they would restore over 45,000 sq miles of forest and work towards eliminating illegal deforestation. If you don’t react to this that is probably because you are not aware that 45,000 sq miles is roughly the size of England. For the US it meant tripling renewable energy sources by 2030. China added specificity to its commitments by pledging to reduce emissions by 60% by 2030. One wonders if India will come forward with its set of commitments before COP later this year.
These announcements have added tremendous momentum as we prepare for the COP21 in Paris. It is the very first time that negotiations will aim to achieve a legally binding and universally accepted agreement aiming to keep global warming below 2 Centigrade.
One Earth Foundation works with indigenous communities adn students to create awareness about the impact of global warming on our fragile planet. Some of our initiatives in this sector are:
- Workshops for farmers in horticultural zones
- workshops with children of farming communities and panchayat schools
- Restoration of degraded forest lands
- Clean forest drives in ecologically sensitive areas
- Promoting sustainable living practices