Climate: The Ostrich Policy

The president of the United States, Donald Trump, is not the only climate skeptic. After the tempered euphoria of the Paris Climate Conference in 2015 and the fabulous number of promises made by the participating countries, like a game of one-upmanship, now comes a period of reluctance, even nonchalance.

Today, the United Nations warns that the majority of the countries which participated in the 2015 Paris conference are now far removed from their stated objective, namely a gradual control of global warming which we objectively know has reached a rate that is dangerous for all of humanity. In effect, greenhouse gas emissions follow a rising curve, whereas the steps taken by the large number of economically strong countries, Western and otherwise, are proving to be frugally symbolic, in such a way that their effect is practically meaningless in maintaining the temperature within 2 degrees Celsius. Hence the immense urgency of the message from the United Nations is that the danger is indeed here, and that it’s not useful to bury our heads in the sand.

For experts who share a unanimous opinion, there is an urgent need to triple the level of global engagements before 2030 if we want to keep the temperature increase within 1.5 degrees Celsius (a heightened warning of serious disruptions) – the number of engagements should even be multiplied by five! Still, the ninth U.N. report on the subject, produced ahead of the 24th World Climate Conference to be held in a few days in Katowice, Poland, does not bode well, judging by the forecasts of the U.N. Environment Programme. Among the agency’s findings is that the gap has widened between the current level of gas emissions and the level needed to help mitigate climate change.

The fact is that the previous year has been dramatically worse, with emissions going back up after three years of relative stabilization. And the current year will likely worsen that trend, while the technology to deal with this disruption remains unchanged. Currently, according to the U.N., 49 countries have exceeded their peak emissions, and if the promises made by others are kept, only 57 of the 195 states expected to attend the conference in Katowice will be able to claim, in 2030, making any real contribution to the objectives drawn by the different climate conferences.

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