… Humanity opened gates to hell by allowing climate crisis to worsen: UN Climate Action Summit

YK Poudel

The global temperature is rising at an alarming rate of 1.5 degrees in various regions and locations.

The world leaders from various economies debate for an urgent call to action. Countries are breaking the record for rising temperature—the hottest year in history and this is expected to continue. Bhutan has experienced the hottest summer this year, as per the National Centre for Hydrology and Metrology.

World leaders, business persons, celebrities and activists gathered in the US for Climate Week and the UN’s Climate Action Summit between September 18 and 26. The world’s biggest emitters China and the United States—followed by the United Arab Emirates, France, and India escaped the discussion.

After rising flood cases ravaging the southern parts of Bhutan, the need for urgent action is a must and more is needed to be done.

According to the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM), Bhutan experienced windstorms, lightning and hailstorms, and heavy rainfall causing major landslides and flashfloods between February and August. The natural disaster was attributed to seasonal drivers such as El-Nino Southern Oscillation, Indian Ocean Dipole and their interactions.

On September 20, UN Secretary General António Guterres hosted the Climate Action Summit—the event was to reverse backsliding on Paris climate agreement goals and to encourage governments to adopt serious new actions to combat climate change. “I’m not sure all leaders are feeling the heat. Actions are falling abysmally short.”

“Humanity has opened the gates to hell by allowing the climate crisis to worsen. The world is decades behind in the transition to clean energy. We must make up time lost to foot-dragging, arm-twisting and the naked greed of entrenched interests raking in billions from fossil fuels,” he said.

António Guterres said that there is too much backtracking and there is a hope of using the summit as a moment to inspire people.

This meeting has come ten weeks ahead of the COP28 climate summit in the United Arab Emirates and is one of the last high-profile gatherings aimed at getting countries to come forward with new climate actions and plans to shift away from fossil fuels after the G7, G20 and meeting of the BRICs countries.

The Alliance of Small Island States (ASIS) comprising about 40 members during the climate week called on the leaders of developed countries to make stronger moves to end the use of fossil fuels and to support the global ramp-up of renewable energy such as wind, geothermal and solar power.

According to a statement from ASIS, they implore the international community to use the platforms of the UNGA and New York Climate Week to signal unequivocal support for Small Island Developing States. “It is disheartening to witness the lack of ambition on what truly ails us—emissions from fossil fuels.”

Environmental activists said that the global-level five rich nations: the US, Canada, Australia, Norway, and the UK—that talk about cutting back emissions are responsible for more than half of the planned expansion of oil and gas drilling through 2050. The United States accounts for more than one-third. “the frustration is aimed at Biden and America,” the activists said to one of the global media, The Guardian.

US President, Joe Biden during SDG Summit earlier, said that US Dollar 375 billion has already been released to fight climate change, mostly on solar panels, energy efficiency, air pollution controls and emission-reducing equipment for coal-and-gas-fueled power plants.

On the contrary, Policy Director at ActionAid USA said that this is just a political “good guy” propaganda. “They want to be seen as the good guys, but the fact is they have very little to back it up,” he said. The United States has failed to deliver on its promised climate-based financial aid to poor countries and has not increased its money pledges like other nations.

Bhutan, a participating member state is grappling with the aftermath of natural disasters.

The effect of El Nino, a severe weather phenomenon that triggers higher global temperatures in one region (drought) and heavy rainfall in the other, is set to persist throughout 2023 and 2024.

The analysis of historical climate and climate projection of Bhutan report published by NCHM shows that the climate projection for surface temperature indicates an increase of about 0.8–1.6 degree during 2021-2050—Bhutan is likely to experience increasing trends in rainfall with a marginal decrease towards the end of the century.

According to an official from NCHM, there is enough evidence of the rise in the global average temperature. Consequently, the impact of warming has worsened various types of disasters. “For Bhutan the major impacts of climate change will be water resources and disaster due to the melting of glaciers and the risk of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) and extreme weather events in the energy, agriculture and health sectors,” said the official.

Bhutan has pledged to remain carbon neutral for all times and is a net sequester of carbon—yet there will be emissions contributing to climate change from Bhutan also.

The National Forestry Inventory report from Energy and Natural Resources Ministry states that the carbon sequestration capacity for Bhutan increased to 11 million tonnes from 9.6 million in the last six years.

Moreover, Bhutan’s National Adaptation Plan launched this year identifies and integrates medium-and-long-term climate adaptation priorities into the development planning to build the country’s resilience to the impact of climate change.

The Paris Agreement set a goal of limiting global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

As per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to ensure below the 1.5-degree threshold in average temperature, the world will have to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The 1.5-degree Celsius threshold is considered a critical threshold, as it is the point at which the impacts of climate change are expected to become increasingly severe.

The world will face a 2.7 degree increase in heat by the end of the century if we continue emitting greenhouse gases at the current rate.