Khin Maung Myint
It is learnt that, as of 1 November 2016, 92 out of the 192 parties (countries), which had signed the agreements reached on 12 December 2015 at the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) held in Paris, had already ratified it. The minimum number of countries needed to ratify the treaty or the threshold to get it into force was set at 55, accounting for at least 55% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. As it has acquired more than the necessary numbers set, the agreement will finally take effect on 4 November 2016. That information is a very welcoming one as it provides a ray of hope for our planet Earth, and some relief for those who are concerned about the threats of the climate change.
As we all know, the world today is facing the freak weather conditions that are getting worser year after year. All these are the adverse consequences of the effects of the climate changes: the most significant being the global warming, the results of the excessive emission of the greenhouse gases. Today the world is reeling under the unprecedented temperature rises causing extensive melting of the glaciers and severe draughts all over the globe. If these situations cannot be curbed and brought under control, the ocean levels will rise and inundate the low lying areas, shrinking the land masses. Also, due to severe draughts many pasture lands around the world, especially in China, had disappeared as they were turned into deserts.
These situations will deprive us of the land areas for dwellings, agricultures, raising of livestocks. and for industries, etc. The worst case scenario would be when there are only a few habitable and arable lands remaining on Earth and everybody wants a piece of it. Social unrests and armed conflicts will ensue as people will fight for their survival.
Such a situation will become a reality if something cannot be done to rein in the deteriorating climate change in time. Thus, the United Nations is trying its utmost best to get the climate change problems solved. The previous climate change conferences were unable to get the largest emitters of the greenhouse gases, such as China and USA, to sign the agreements. However, the latest one held in Paris from 30 November to 12 December 2015 was more successful in getting it done.
At this juncture, I would like to recount the agreements reached by consensus at COP21. The first and most important is to hold the temperature rise at 2°C and eventually to bring it down to 1•5°C above the pre-industrial period. The second consensus is to increase the adaptability to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emission developments in a manner that does not threaten food production. The third agreement is to make money flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development. It is the world’s first comprehensive climate change agreement.
It is quite evident from the above agreements that the reduction of the greenhouse gases is the main objective in harnessing the climate change and bring about the control on the temperature rises. Thus all the participating countries were required to pledge their intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) at COP21. These are determined by individual country on their own. On ratifying the treaty, the INDC becomes the NDC or nationally determined contribution of that ratifying country. This NDC is an obligation that country must fulfill to bring about the reduction of the greenhouse gases.
However, it is not bound by any law and no legal action can be taken, apart from “naming and shaming” of the country that failed to fulfill the pledge made. Some notable NDCs among the countries, which had already ratified the treaty are those of China at 20•09%, the USA at 17•89% and India at 4•10%. Myanmar had pledged an INDC of 0•10%, but I cannot find her in the list of the ratifying parties as yet. Anyway, as the total NDC pledged by the 92 parties accounted for 65•82% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, it is very encouraging and a glimmer of hope for our planet Earth lingers on the horizon. It now remains for us to wait and see whether the targets pledged could be met and our hopes realized.
Although our country has not yet ratified the treaty, we are witnessing many positive actions taken by our authorities lately: such as the banning of loggings in certain regions and extensive conservations of forests being carried out. In my opinion these undertakings would contribute much to the reduction of the greenhouse gases.
I admit that I’m not an expert, but just a layman who is obsessed with the climate change issues, which are becoming more threatening to the enviroment and hence to the future of mankind and deemed it a duty to make others aware of the devastations it could cause. Thus I had been persistently advocating to counter the climate change as much as possible and again I would like to urge my fellow countrymen to participate in the fight against climate change—our immediate enemy.
In conclusion, I would like to state that if we should have conserved our once lush and dense tropical rain forests properly, we could be taking pride in being a carbon negative country or may be even designated as a carbon sink today, instead of being a greenhouse gas emitting one. However, it’s not too late yet; if we strive together, we can still achieve those goals.