Before delving into the subject of climate change and how to reduce its risks, it is necessary to know exactly what it is. Climate change is mainly represented by long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be partially natural and occur due to changes in the solar cycle and radiation levels. However, human activities have, since the 19th century, been the fundamental cause of climate change, due to the large amounts of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, burned for various household uses, in factories and for land, sea and air transportation. This has resulted in greenhouse gas emissions being released into the atmosphere. These wrap around the globe, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures in the Earth’s atmosphere.
There are significant repercussions due to the phenomenon of climate change for all countries and regions in the world. But it is more dangerous for developing countries due to the widening phenomenon of desertification and their lack of financial and technological capabilities to confront the effects of climate change. This requires the provision of generous aid by developed, industrial countries so that developing countries can adapt and move toward greener economies to limit the effects of climate change. This is known as climate justice.
Effective solutions can be found to help adapt to climate change and economic benefits can be achieved if the process of improving and protecting the environment occurs. For this goal, global agreements have been concluded to guide progress and sustainable development, such as the 2015 Paris Agreement. There is a package of measures that must be taken, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change, along with the conversion of energy systems from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind.
The UN believes there is an urgent need to find a large coalition of countries to bring emissions to net zero by 2050. Emissions must first be reduced by 45 percent by 2030 if the world is to limit warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. And fossil fuel production must decrease by about 6 percent per year between 2020 and 2030.
Observers believe that the best solution is achieving climate justice. Reports indicate that the annual cost to developing countries of loss and damage due to climate change will be between $290 billion and $580 billion by 2030.
However, climate justice has remained only a theory on paper. In practice, developed countries’ recognition of climate justice has not translated into a significant injection of money or aid, as reports indicate that the financing flows for international adaptation destined for developed countries are five to 10 times less than the estimated need.
Therefore, it can be asserted that efforts to fight the negative repercussions of climate change require both will and proper administration. A report issued by the UN indicated that the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy is a cornerstone in this matter, and this means not approving new oil and gas fields or coal mines so that all fossil fuel-fired power plants can be phased out by 2040.
Few countries have realized the importance of climate justice but, in this context, Saudi Arabia has launched many national strategies concerned with the environment and climate, such as its National Energy Strategy. The UAE, which will host the COP28 climate change summit later this year, has developed the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy and a carbon neutrality strategy.
Thanks to the recent important steps taken in this direction, the demand for fossil fuel energy sources will decline in the long run, which will limit the phenomenon of greenhouse gas emissions exacerbating climate change and its dangerous repercussions for the planet and its people.
This shift must not impede developed countries from financially supporting poor countries to limit the desertification phenomenon or providing them with assistance and advice. They must also highlight the importance of installing and using home solar energy systems with the help of civil society organizations and various companies. Without this step, it is not possible to reduce the impact of climate change or confront its huge repercussions. It is not the responsibility of a specific country.
Maria Maalouf is a Lebanese journalist, broadcaster, publisher and writer. She has a master’s degree in political sociology from the University of Lyon. Twitter: @bilarakib This piece was originally published in ArabNews