Combating climate change together! | Pakistan Today

Combating climate change together!

  • The problem is of human abuse

For centuries, warring nations have found some common ground to collaborate on, which is primarily why it has been possible to reach an agreement or negotiated peace. In the world today where globalism is changing towards a more identity-driven version of international politics, the competing and overtly independent economic forces exhibit the changing hegemonic order, and point towards an unsettling reality – lowered chances of cooperation. Perhaps this is the reason why most international institutions have been rendered rather useless by the many states that had sustained it for so long.

An emerging concern, however, is that of climate change. This not only affects individual states, but the world at large, and so the solution to his dynamic problem is to be sought at the international level. I type this as I cough from the high levels of pollutants in the air, the infamous Lahore’s smog, which many experts believe is caused by the crop burning in Rajasthan, India. While most of what happens in Pakistan ‘is caused by India’, this claim is not without much relevance and authenticity. Wind patterns have shown that the crop burning at the end of summer season, an age old tradition to make soil fertile for next season, is in fact one of the most potent reasons why Lahore experiences a high level of pollutants in air at the onset of autumn and lasts till winter showers, which too are exhibiting erratic patterns. However, the entire multitude of the problem can’t be dumped on India alone, and Pakistan’s cities, the unsettling case of urban heat islands, needs to be properly addressed. This is something that is being experienced across the border in Delhi as well. Both instances point towards the calamity that is persistent tree-cutting, release of poisonous fumes and chemicals from factories into the atmosphere and rivers, and the disruption of ecosystems in which various species thrive to sustain the many cycles that contribute to climate patterns.

The problem is of human abuse – use of resources in such a way that the self-correcting mechanisms of the environment are unable to replenish themselves. And since these weather patterns are closely linked to each other, there needs to be a comprehensive strategy aimed at combating the problem, inclusive of all states. So for instance, India could be asked to not burn its crops after summers, as the overflowing effect of this is smog is then experienced in Lahore.

While we’ve been talking about climate change for decades now, and recently experiencing the many ways in which it adversely affects us, states with international stakes have started to formalise talks, to someday formalise legislation that could be enacted in the greatest part of the world, to at least minimise the effects of global warming.

Cutting emissions, controlling discharge in natural water bodies, saving endangered species, etc, has to be done along with finding solutions to water scarcity

In 2015, 195 member states of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed an agreement now known as the Paris Agreement; to take concrete steps in combating the effects of climate change. While 195 members signed the agreement, 184 became a party to it. According to the report, “The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts.”As a follow up to this, the UN’s 24th Climate Change Conference was held in Poland’s Katowice, known as COP24 t. The conference was attended by thousands of environmental experts and states who had originally ratified the Paris Agreement to discuss policies moving forward. The host country, Poland received the members with a performance from the Polish Coal Miners Band, which was immediately met with Polish President Andrzej Duda’s remarks, “There is no plan today to fully give up on coal. Experts point out that our supplies run for another 200 years, and it would be hard not to use them.”

This set the tone for the entire conference, and while naturalist Sir David Attenborough highlighted climate change as a grave concern for all, able to wipe out civilisations and societies as we know them. The UN’s Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the calamity goes on to pose both economic and social costs. Statements by both have raised the alarms, but it seems as if their remarks have fallen on deaf ears, and possibilities for all-out efforts might actually not come through.

While some like myself believe that the mantra of a borderless world is coming to an end with the rise of the Far Right, the fact that climate change is a global problem, requires to be dealt with through global concerted efforts and the development of a conscience that serves the greater good of humanity. Countries like Poland and presidents like Donald Trump are an anomaly that need to be completely rooted out to develop a discourse, then a plan, and finally strategies at state level which will ensure a safer environment for us all.

Cutting emissions, controlling discharge in natural water bodies, saving endangered species, etc, has to be done along with finding solutions to water scarcity, beyond the scope of crowd funding for the construction of dams. The problems associated with global warming are so vast and endemic that only catering to one end won’t bring any real change. It’s time the states sit together, understand the costs and chalk out the benefits of dealing with this phenomenon together.

Remshay Ahmed

Remshay Ahmed is a Lahore-based freelance journalist and a published author of Foreign Policy of Pakistan (2000-2016): A Game Theory Analysis. She can be reached at [email protected]

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