Signing of Paris accord vital to tame warming


The world is holding its breath ahead of epochal event on April 22 at the United Nations in New York, where global leaders are expected to sign the landmark Paris accord adopted at a UN summit in December last year to limit global warming. The day, interestingly, is also World Earth Day. The event will be closely watched by global firms responsible for tens of trillions of dollars in investments. They have urged the world’s leading economies to sign the pact.
Seven organisations that represent over 400 investment funds sent a letter to the leaders of G20 nations calling on them “to sign the Paris Agreement”. This puts huge responsibility on major players to lead the world in curbing global warming.
“The early entry into force of the Agreement will send an important signal to investors that governments are translating into concrete action the momentous political will represented by the adoption of the Paris Agreement,” the investors’ letter says. Even though 195 nations sealed the world’s first global climate deal in December, the agreement should be signed and ratified before it can take effect. It calls for capping global warming under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
Poor countries and island states at high risk of climate change effects such as sea-level rise and drought had earnestly called for cap at 2 degree Celsius amid doubts of scientists that on current greenhouse-gas emission rates, the world is heading for a 4 C warmer world.
To prove the scientists’ scepticism, last month was hottest March in modern times — a sign that indicates the pace of global warming is accelerating.
To arrest global warming, there must be a balance between emissions from human activities such as energy production and farming, and the amount that can be
captured by carbon-absorbing “sinks” such as forests or carbon storage technology.
It is incumbent on the developed countries, which have polluted for longer, and have the technology, to take the lead with absolute emissions cuts. The rich countries are also required to provide support for developing nations’ shift to renewable energy. If they provide funding to help developing countries make the costly shift to green energy and shore up defences against climate change impacts, the battle against global warming could be won.
In 2009, the rich countries pledged $100 billion (88 billion euros) a year to help the developing countries shift to green energy. The amount must be updated by 2025. Indeed challenges still loom large. Even if every oil, gas or coal-burning engine in the world were switched off tomorrow, lingering molecules of carbon pollution in the atmosphere would continue pushing temperatures up.
Sadly, a technology for sucking CO2 out of the air is well beyond our reach. Worse still, the global economy simply cannot be weaned off fossil fuels quickly enough.
Yet, there is a silver lining. Energy-related carbon emissions stalled for the second year in a row, while renewable energy capacity grew a record 8.3
percent, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Further, Peabody Energy, the largest US coal miner, filed for bankruptcy last week in the latest defeat for a sector battered by competition from cheap natural gas and a push for cleaner energy. Besides, number one carbon polluter China reported two consecutive years of falling coal consumption and invested a record $111 billion in clean energy in 2015.
To tighten the grip, companies, investors, universities, governments, insurers and banks have been withdrawing investments in fossil-fuel projects.
Other measures such as imposing tax on carbon emissions, pulling out of fossil fuel investments, imposing emissions standards for industry, subsidising renewable energy and protecting CO2-absorbing forests could advance the cause.
The signing of Paris Agreement on Friday will speed up action, rally efforts, and create more awareness to stop an environmental catastrophe.

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