Climate change

Climate change talk will be all hot air, until developed world changes wasteful energy habits

  • The smiling faces of climate leaders at the closing ceremony of COP24 may have been prompted only by the assurance that they will meet again next year
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 December, 2018, 2:28pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 December, 2018, 2:27pm

We have seen yet another episode of the climate change conferences officially known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) – this time in Katowice, Poland, from December 2-14. Officially known as COP24, and attended by leaders from 197 countries, the main task at this meeting was to draft a rule set for the implementation of the Paris agreement signed during the highly publicised COP21, in the French capital in December 2015.

A quarter of a century has passed since the establishment of the UN Framework Convention in 1992. It has become a ritual to have COPs every year with the publicised agenda to combat climate change by limiting the global average temperature rise to within 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, despite signing agreements and accords year after year, nothing tangible has yet happened as a result of these conferences (“‘We face extinction’: island nations urge immediate climate action”, December 13).

There are still unresolved scientific issues on climate change but, more importantly, there are non-scientific issues that contribute to the crux of the problem. Global and regional temperature rise is the result of energy consumption which finally ends up with heat as the by-product. UN statistics reveal that the highest energy users worldwide, generally in developed countries, can contribute 1,000 times as much carbon emissions as the lowest energy users, usually in developing countries.

Many developed countries may be loathe to reduce their per capita energy consumption to comply with the Paris agreement at the cost of sacrificing their national interests.

There is also provision in the Paris agreement to determine any reduction of emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases voluntarily, to be determined by individual parties, with no enforcement mechanism.

Unfortunately, the world is driven by consumption and not by conservation. The smiling faces of climate leaders at the closing ceremony of COP24 may have been prompted by the assurance that they will meet again next year, regardless of whether these series of COPs will bring about any tangible results.

A. W. Jayawardena, Kennedy Town