Environmentalists assert that climate change is caused by human activity, as opposed to changes in climate which may have resulted as part of Earth’s natural processes. From this point of view, the term “climate change” has become synonymous with anthropogenic global warming.
Over the last three decades, climate change incorporated in the title of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was used as a noun and has now become an issue rather than the technical description of changing weather.
Despite qualms about the future implementation of agreed postulates, it is generally agreed that success in containing climate change will greatly depend on Washington and Beijing being pro-active in the fulfilment of expectations related to de-carbonising electricity production and containing fossil fuel energy production. In this context, France and Germany are now held as shining examples because of their wide use of renewable energy and wind energy.
In the midst of all the positive efforts undertaken in Paris and Marrakkesh came the US presidential elections in 2016. This cast a shadow on the evolving paradigm of tackling the after-effects of growing carbon emissions. It started with Trump’s comment that global warming is a “hoax.” He has since taken the controversial step of technically withdrawing from the global pact. He also underlined the possibility of stopping financial support for the measures initiated in this regard by the UN.
President Trump has taken a very different approach to the environment compared to Obama, who argued that climate change was “real and cannot be ignored.” Among the initiatives now rescinded is the Clean Power Plan, which required states to slash carbon emissions, to meet US commitments under the Paris accord.
Trump’s supporters are saying that his decision will create thousands of jobs in the liberated oil and gas industries. Trump has not given a timescale for US withdrawal, but it could take up to four years. As a result of this decision, US payments to the UN Green Climate Fund, which helps developing countries cope with the effects of climate change, will stop. In the meantime, observers have noted that the Global Carbon Budget 2016 launched during COP-22 aimed at aiding countries towards adaptation and mitigation efforts has not proved to be as successful as anticipated due to lack of sufficient contribution by many countries despite previous promises.
Bangladesh on its own initiative has also created a Climate Change Trust Fund worth $400 million from its own financial resources. These measures have highlighted the commitment of our country in addressing climate change challenges
Where we stand
In this context, Bangladesh, one of the most vulnerable countries with regard to the after-effects of climate change, has taken COP-22 with the required gravity. Some 109 out of 197 UN member states have, so far, ratified the Paris Agreement and it came into force on November 4, 2016.
Bangladesh has already handed over the “Instrument of Ratification” of the Paris Agreement to the UN secretary general. Bangladesh on its own initiative has also created a Climate Change Trust Fund worth $400 million from its own financial resources. These measures have highlighted the commitment of our country in addressing climate change challenges.
The positive factors undertaken already by Bangladesh were reiterated in the keynote speech delivered by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the high-level segment of COP-22 on November 16, 2016. They included the need for collective action to tackle the problems associated with effective implementation of measures related to adaptation and mitigation, the resolution of the crisis being created through migration of climate change affected people, the need to ensure safe drinking water and sanitation through effective water governance, the creation of a new global fund to support research, innovation, and sharing advances in technology required to solve serious after-effects of climate change in the area of agriculture and water management.
This, she pointed out, would help meet SDG goals.
The irresponsible approach on the part of the Trump administration, in its own way, has now become a catalyst in leading many nations towards re-thinking reducing global warming and taking pre-emptive steps towards this end. Nevertheless, the overall international response to this US decision has been one of great disappointment. They, including Canada, France, Japan, Germany, China, India, and the EU have reiterated their resolve and “highest political commitment” for the implementation of the Paris Accord.
Muhammad Zamir, a former Ambassador and Chief Information Commissioner of the Information Commission, is an analyst specialised in foreign affairs, right to information and good governance, can be reached at [email protected]