Climate talks last chance to save nature, humanity

Tuesday, November 8th, 2022 09:00 | By
President William Ruto and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak held a talk on Climate change on the sidelines of the COP27 summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on November 7, 2022. PHOTO/Twitter.
President William Ruto and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak held a talk on Climate change on the sidelines of the COP27 summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on November 7, 2022. PHOTO/Twitter.

Humanity is on the brink of a catastrophe unless world leaders gathered in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt for the United Nations climate summit make critical decisions for nature’s survival.

This year’s 27th UN Conference of Parties (COP 27) on climate opened on Sunday as global temperatures continue to rise rapidly because of human activity.

With Africa hosting COP27, the continent’s climate needs must be high on the agenda – unmet commitments amid lingering disruptions due to Covid-19 and finance, energy and food challenges created by the war in Ukraine.

Scientists warn that left unchecked, humans and nature will experience catastrophic warming, with worsening droughts, floods, rising sea levels and mass extinction of species. The rapid climate change is caused by humans using oil, gas and coal for their homes, factories and transport.

When these fossil fuels burn, they release greenhouse gases (GHG) – mostly carbon dioxide (Co2). These gases trap the Sun’s heat, causing the planet’s temperature to rise.

The world is now 1.1C warmer than it was in the 19th Century, and the amount of Co2 in the atmosphere has risen by 50 percent. Africa has suffered huge losses and destruction as a result of climate change, yet the continent produces less than 4 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. 

COP27 is the most important climate meeting after COP21 which culminated in the landmark Paris Agreement – a legally binding treaty on climate change adopted by 197 nations in Paris on 12 December 2015.

The goal of the agreement was to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. World temperatures are rising because of human activity and climate change now threatens every aspect of life.

COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland last year focused on discussions towards achieving net-zero greenhouse gases emissions by 2050 and enhancing the ambition of emission reductions by 2030. The conference delivered a host of pledges on emissions cuts, finance, net zero and forests.

However, the global effort to cut emissions is “woefully inadequate”, warns the UN. The world is heading toward a catastrophe. COP 27 offers the best chance of progress on the climate crisis.

In a battle between the north and south (rich and poor nations), the meeting is discussing the implementation of pledges made at COP26 on climate finance, getting wealthy nations to honour promises of money to help the developing world tackle climate change, specifically the promised but unfulfilled $100 billion a year by 2020.

Kenya and the Horn of Africa region are currently feeling the disastrous impacts of climate change, with 4.5 million Kenyans in 30 counties relying on emergency relief food staring at starvation.

As UN Environment (UNEP) host, Nairobi must robustly articulate the climate change agenda and demonstrate by example that it is strictly adhering to the goal of climate action to save nature and humanity from catastrophe.

The devastating drought approaching famine levels has resulted in the deaths of thousands of livestock and failed crops.

Hundreds of wildlife including elephants, the endangered Grevy’s zebras, buffalos, giraffes and wildebeests have also died in Kenya’s worst drought in nearly half a century, threatening the country’s prized tourism sector, a key contributor to the economy.

Kenya should galvanize Africa’s position at COP27 in advancing the implementation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) on climate change, including adaptation and mitigation efforts and the delivery of finance to enhance the implementation of climate action.

— The writer comments on political and environmental affairs – [email protected]

More on Opinion