Most people across the world now accept the scientific reports and studies pointing to rapidly occurring climate change as a clear and present existential threat to the continued existence of humanity. Some still choose to ignore the facts, either by wilful ignorance or because it stands in the way of greed. Unfortunately, even some of those who accept the scientific evidence do not accept the pace, extent and dire implications of onrushing climate change and are complacent about the necessity to take countervailing actions.
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This lack of urgency is almost as deleterious as those that reject the reality of climate change. In large measure, the problem of complacency arises from the complexity of the scientific reporting and especially the jargon and enormous volume of information which can be both overwhelming and intimidating. We try today to distil the basic information from the vast literature, choosing to rely on the reports of the United Nations (UN).
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The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was established in 1992, its objective to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent “dangerous anthropogenic interferences with the climate system”.
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The UN has been monitoring progress, or lack thereof, since 1992, with five major climate change assessments completed by its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The reports document the rapidly increasing climate-related impacts, including but not confined to more powerful hurricanes, more frequent storms, collapsing ecosystems, record heatwaves, prolonged droughts, unprecedented floods and massive forest fires.
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The Paris Agreement signed in 2016 exists within the UNFCCC, the focus of which is greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance. The agreement is subscribed to by 196 governments. The United States signed but subsequently withdrew. The Paris Agreement‘s goal is to limit the increase in the average global temperature to 1.5° Celsius.
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The average global surface temperature is increasing and is projected to reach 1.5°C above the pre-industrial period, perhaps as soon as 2030. The 1.0°C threshold has already been crossed with the severe climate-related consequences which the global community has suffered in recent years.
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Growing global awareness of impacts of temperature rise above 1.5°C has galvanised international attention on the feasibility of the target and the implications of not adhering to it. There are two major problems about which the international community has talked but not done enough
First, the rising temperatures are caused by industrially generated emissions, the main contributors being the US, China and India. Second, inadequate funding to assist the countries suffering the worst and most immediate effects of climate change
Human survival requires slowing climate change to 1.5 °C. We support the call for international funding for climate action in small island developing countries. Meanwhile, let us help ourselves wherever we can
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