Who Takes Responsibility for Climate Change? Part I
Climate change shows more clearly than anything else how closely the world is connected: according to ALLUNITCONVERTERS, emissions of greenhouse gases in Norway or the United States contribute to higher temperatures and extreme weather that can create problems for people in the Philippines or Uganda. But climate change has also shown us how difficult it is to get the states in the world to cooperate. Many years of negotiations and gigantic summits have not succeeded in producing an international agreement that can really prevent dangerous climate change.
- Why is it so difficult for UN countries to agree on a climate agreement?
- What are the consequences of rapid climate change?
- How can the responsibility for the climate problem be distributed as fairly as possible between the different countries?
- How can emissions be reduced most effectively?
The above questions are among those being discussed in the work on a new international climate agreement, which must be completed by 2015 .
2: What happens to the climate?
The climate has always been changing. But in the last hundred years we have seen such a rapid warming of the globe that it can not be explained by natural causes alone . The researchers agree that this warming is due to human emissions of greenhouse gases from the combustion of fossil energy resources such as oil, coal and gas, as well as deforestation and other human activity. This enhances the natural greenhouse effect and means that more of the heat from the sun is left on the earth.
Since we humans began to burn oil, coal and gas on a large scale, the average temperature on earth has increased by 0.74 degrees (from the middle of the 19th century). If greenhouse gas emissions continue, the temperature will continue to rise. The result can be that the climate changes faster and more powerfully than nature and humans can adapt. Researchers at the UN Climate Panel estimate that the temperature could rise by as much as six degrees over the next hundred years if greenhouse gas emissions
continue as they do today.
A few degrees warmer weather may look very comfortable – at least in Norway. But even a small change in the average temperature of the earth can have major consequences :
- Rising sea levels could submerge the habitats of millions of people
- Higher temperatures will result in more extreme weather and stronger storms
- Species and habitats can become extinct because they are unable to adapt to rapid changes in temperature and precipitation
- This can also create problems for the plant species we use to produce food and thus affect food production in the world.
- Climate change can also destroy access to fresh water and increase the spread of diseases such as malaria.
Climate change will have very different consequences in different parts of the world . In Norway, we will notice climate change, among other things, in the form of more rain and sleet. The northern area will also be particularly exposed to changes after a quarter as the ice in the Arctic Ocean melts. But Norway and other rich countries in Europe and North America will probably be able to adapt to these changes. The consequences will be far worse in poorer countries, which do not have the same resources to adapt. African and Asian countries will be particularly hard hit, and the poorest ethnic groups in these countries will probably have the biggest problems.
3: How can we avoid dangerous climate change?
The climate pollution that is already present in the atmosphere means that the temperature on earth will continue to rise for a long time – even if we were to be able to stop all emissions today. But exactly how much the temperature will rise depends on how much greenhouse gases we emit in the future. Many researchers believe that it is only with a temperature rise of more than two degrees that climate change will really have dramatic consequences . At the climate summit in Mexico in 2010, therefore, the member states of the UN adopted a goal to avoid the temperature rising more than two degrees. This is the so-called «two-degree goal».
According to the UN Climate Panel, global emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 must be reduced by between 50 and 85 percent from the level of emissions in 2000 , if it is to be possible to reach the goal of a maximum of two degrees. Such a sharp reduction in emissions will require very comprehensive measures. Today, about 80 percent of the energy we use comes from the fossil fuels oil, coal and gas. At the same time, energy consumption is increasing sharply , especially in developing countries that are expanding industry and experiencing great economic growth. The most important measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are therefore to reduce energy consumption and replace fossil energy sources with renewable energy from, for example, water, wind and solar.