Climate change report gets holistic

The Global Environment Outlook, a United Nations report prepared by 250 scientists and experts from 70 countries, which was released last week, takes a larger view of the environmental and climate issues that engage the world’s attention now and link them to
growth, development and well-being. Climate change is a reality, though it is disputed by many, but the solutions to the problem cannot be limited to matters like emission control and a shift to renewable energy. The report notes the “growing chasm between rich and poor countries as rampant over-consumption, pollution and wastage of food in the developed world leads to hunger, disease and poverty elsewhere’’. It says that the climate crisis is therefore as social as it is environmental. It has been described by many experts as a landmark report on the planet’s parlous state and has been commended for the new directions it offers to policymakers. 

The remit of the report was to look at the world’s resources and natural systems like air, fresh water, forests, oceans and biodiversity, study their pollution and degradation and find their linkages with climate change and the development strategies pursued in the past and at present. It has noted that development plans and processes have not taken into consideration environmental degradation, climate change and the social and economic cost they impose on human lives. Inequality has increased within and between countries. Ignoring the impact on environment and poor enforcement of regulations has imposed economic and public health costs. Air and water pollution cause millions of deaths and huge losses worldwide. The estimated annual cost of air pollution is about $5 trillion. Water pollution causes 1.5 million premature deaths in one year. The report warns that anti-microbial resistance can become a major killer by 2050. Pesticides and industrial wastes may pollute air and water sources to a much greater extent than now. The impact will be the highest in East and South Asia, and India, because of its size and population, will suffer the most.

The report calls upon governments and decision-makers to address the serious environmental issues in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals laid down by the UN and the internationally agreed environmental goals, including the Paris agreement. Its significance is that it links issues related to development, environment and climate change, and calls for comprehensive action on all of them. It calls for a change in human lifestyles and productive activities like industry, agriculture, transport and construction. It also emphasises that the solutions should go beyond local initiatives and encompass regional and global actions. It should serve as a guide book for the world. 

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Climate change report gets holistic

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