The US is back; climate change action is onTuesday, April 27, 2021
The world has entered the Anthropocene Epoch — when human activity starts to have a significant impact on the planet's climate and ecosystems.
Over the years, empirical scientific evidence has increased to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of mankind have been and are accelerating climate change to the detriment of the future of life on planet Earth.
At this point in time, climate change is a clear and present existential threat to life on the planet. Yet, confounding intelligence, there are those who contribute to the worsening effects of climate change by denying the overwhelming data on climate change.
To save the planet, or at least prolong life on Earth, it is necessary to bring global warming — which results from climate change — under control. The challenge can only be met by international cooperation, and in this the largest industrial countries — the largest contributors to global warming by their carbon emissions — must take the lead.
International agreement on multilateral cooperation, though difficult, was eventually achieved. One of the most important attempts to organise and implement multilateral action was the Paris Climate Agreement of 2016, signed by 194 countries within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the focus of which is greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance.
The Paris Agreement's goal is to limit the increase in the average global temperature to 1.5°C. But nearly five years later little progress on realising the agreed upon targets has been accomplished.
To get back on track for the emission cuts required by 2030 the world must accelerate the pace of adoption of renewable energy six-fold, coal phase-out five-fold, and electric vehicle uptake 22-fold compared to current rates.
An important blow to the Paris Agreement came when US President Donald Trump made his November 2019 announcement of his intent to pull his country out of the pact in November 2020 — the only country to do so, creating a one-year hiatus.
During the presidential election campaign of 2020 Mr Joe Biden committed to rejoining the Paris Agreement if he won, and did so on assuming office. Additionally, President Biden appointed former Secretary of State John Kerry as a special presidential envoy on climate and announced a raft of domestic policy measures to 'green' the US economy.
Last week, Mr Biden convened a two-day summit of 40 world leaders. Seventeen of the countries involved are responsible for approximately 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and global gross domestic product (GDP). Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness got a chance to speak his piece.
The objective of the summit was to re-energise international action on climate change. President Biden announced more ambitious policy targets for the US, notably the target of reducing emissions by 50 per cent to 52 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
In so doing he set an example to other countries, in particular China and India — two of the largest sources of emissions. It was a welcomed resumption to America's traditional role of global leadership which was allowed to lapse during the Trump presidency.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login