Gloomy picture on climate change front

The periodical reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN panel that studies climate issues, has issued serious warnings about the consequences of unchecked emission of greenhouse gases (CHG) into the atmosphere.

The panel has enough expertise to make its observations, conclusions and recommendations credible. Over 800 scientists from all over the world have contributed to its work.

Concerns over climate change had been seen as exaggerated by some sections till recently. But now, there is a near consensus that the threat is only too real and the time for remedial and corrective action is fast slipping away.

The panel’s report has again underlined this. It had issued two reports in the past and the latest one is a synthesis of their findings and those of some working groups which also have gone into the matter. There is no room for any cheer in the report.

The crux of the report is that climate change will do “severe, widespread and irreversible’’ damage to the human and natural world if emissions are not cut by 40-70 per cent by 2050 to keep global warming under 2 degrees centigrade. There is no sign of this because even the most ambitious targets set by nations fall short of this requirement. 

Carbon dioxide emissions from use of fossil fuels and industrial processes are the major components of greenhouse gas emissions. But coal and hydrocarbon use is only increasing in the world, especially in the largest polluters - the US, China and India.

The IPCC prescribes increased use of renewable energy sources and low carbon power from the present 30 per cent to 70 per cent by 2050. It points out that the cost of taking the right measures now is negligible in comparison to the price to be paid for inaction in future. In fact, climate change has already started taking place as has been seen in the wayward turn in the occurrence of natural phenomena all over the world in the recent past.

The IPCC feels that a shift from the use of fossil fuels to renewals is technologically and economically feasible if  there is a will, plan and coordinated action among all the countries. But the world community has failed to agree on an agenda and a programme and even a basic agreement on this, the Kyoto Protocol, is facing the threat of lapsing soon.

Next year’s UN-sponsored Paris meeting on climate change may be the last opportunity to reach an acceptable action plan, and the IPCC report gives a comprehensive picture of the challenge and suggests solutions and remedies. The world can ignore them at its peril.

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