The world today, stands at a unique crossroads, facing an unprecedented human-induced climate crisis that is emerging as an existential threat to humanity. The silence of world leaders on this critical issue is deafening, a sheer contrast to the urgency and gravity of the impending devastation.
Amidst this frightening backdrop, the recent five-day climate discussions between the US Envoy on Climate Change, John Kerry and Chinese officialshaveoffered a glimmer of hope, hinting at the possibility of meaningful progress at the upcoming COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai, UAE. US Envoy Kerry’s emphasis on the constructive nature of the discussions and the common grounds reached on several critical issues suggests a potential for improved collaboration between the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters.
However, this glimmer of hope is overshadowed by the conspicuous absence of any mention of climate action during President Biden’s press conference following his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. This silence, despite the dire warnings from the UN Secretary General Gutteres from the base camp of Mt. Everest, during his recent visit to Nepal, highlighting the impending threat and consequences of the depleting Himalayan Glaciers and the irresponsible actionsof the developed world in cutting down emissions was “madness”.
President Biden’s likely decision to skip COP28 has further worsened these concerns. The symbolic gesture of the US President’s absence could be interpreted as a weakening of the US’s commitment to addressing human induced climate change. This is particularly concerning given the urgency of the situation and the pivotal role the United States plays in leading climate action.
It is also important to note that President Biden has previously emphasized the urgency of climate action and has urged world leaders to backup their words with action before the COP28. The absenceof a clear stance on climate change during the recent press conference seems contradictory to his previous statements.
The Himalayan Glaciers, according to latest reports, are melting at an alarming rate,65% faster since 2010 than in the previous decade,and that reducing snow cover due to global warming will reduce fresh water for people living downstream. Theglaciers are a source of more than ten major rivers in Asia, including the Ganges, the Mekong, the Yangtze, the Irrawaddy, and the Indus, which provide sustenance to over 2 billion people in 11 countries - more than one fourth of humanity.
The rapid melting of the glaciers is a blunt warning of the impending global action, specially from industrialized nations, is crucial to curb greenhouse gas emissions and avoid catastrophic consequences, including wars, famine, and widespread extinction.
More importantly,the forthcoming COP28, is the first after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report is a very significant event where countries are expected to agree to new pledges to address climate change and its consequences. The report found that we are on a track for a 2.7degreeCelsius temperature rise by the end of the century, which will have disastrous consequences for human health, ecosystem, and infrastructure.
The IPCC report’s unequivocal assessment underscores the urgent need for decisive and binding action from world leaders at COP 28. The world leaders must rise to the challenge with firm determination and resolve and demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding planet earth for posterity.