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Paris Agreement: Are we on right track?

CLIMATE change has become one of the chronological events in the human history on the Planet Earth.

Additionally, global warming has been an outcome of uncontrolled human environmentally destructive activities, in both developed and developing countries. The impacts of unpredictable erratic climatic situations are more severe and disastrous especially to the least developed countries (LDCs.

Despite the fact that, climate change impacts are nowadays vividly noticed and highly felt by almost all the countries throughout the world; however, this is not a new global concern at all. About 35 years ago (in the 1980s) Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland championed a report titled “Our Common Future”.

The report was an outcome of excellent work done by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). Through that report a warning signal was flashed to the world indicating that the entire human race was facing serious environmental catastrophes hence something must be promptly done in order to safeguard our common future.

Based on that warning the United Nations (UN), in 1992, convened the first global conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where nearly all nations attended. The delegation from Tanzania was led by the then President Ali Hassan Mwinyi.

It was at that global forum that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted and followed by Conferences of Parties (COPs) in December each year.

If I recall well, in 1994 the third Conference of Parties was held in Kyoto, Japan where the Kyoto Protocol (first global agreement) to address issues that lead to increasing emission of Carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhousegases (GHGs), which are responsible for increasing global warming, was adopted.

It was unfortunate that some countries including the United States; opted not to become a party to the Kyoto protocol: a situation that jeopardized its implementation.

Despite the fact that the majority of UNFCCC Parties agreed on the scenarios that could enable countries to curb global warming through application of the Kyoto protocol; yet to-date environmental situations worldwide have worsened versus the situation in the 1980s when the world was cautioned about our common future.

Nowadays the temperatures are increasing at the extent of threatening human survival and wellbeing. Again, climate change is a reality such that even predicting weather events (daily, weekly and periodical forecasts) become out of context in the sense of occurring away from normal trends and to certain cases being very destructive.

Under normal local climate conditions weather events include wet (rainfall) and dry (little or no rains) seasons. For instance, in Tanzania some areas receive rainfall once a year (November to May) while others twice (October to December & March to May).

Getting heavy rains outside these periods is usually abnormal including too much rainfall during the wet seasons (floods) but sometimes very little rains (drought). Such weather conditions are very puzzling to farmers and regarded as impacts of climate change leading to food insecurity situations.

Recalling some years back when global processes to address negative impacts of climate change started 1992); it cascades into my mind that 2015 is the greatest year for UN member states to strike a deal to address challenges related to climate change.

It was a year in which the Global Community concluded the long-awaited AGREEMENT in relation to global warming and subsequent climate change impacts. This happened after over 20 years of negotiations since the Rio global summit and the Kyoto protocol.

Furthermore, it was the first global binding deal on carbon emissions; placing forests and woodlands high on agenda in the context of CO2 removals and storage. Additionally, protection of forests and woodlands is also important for the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Frankly speaking “The Paris Agreement” is an imperative framework for countries to realign the economic activities such that industrial processing and production heavily use climate friendly sources of energy.

Furthermore, this crucial global tool is meant to strengthen the countries’ responses to threats of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise, for this century, well below two (2) degrees Celsius above the preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it even further, to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Additionally, the Agreement intends to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change through adaptation and mitigation measures such as planting adequate trees and sustainably using existing forest and woodland resources.

Unfortunately the US was not a party to the Kyoto protocol but became a party to the 2015 Paris Agreement. For the US becoming a party was an encouraging move for the entire global community to fight and regulate human activities that lead to global warming and climate change.

However, the reigning regime that came to power after 2015, without any hesitation, informed the global community that the US is pulling out of the Paris Agreement. This decision surprised most of us because the race to fight against climate change is regarded as a participatory process whereby developed and developing countries teaming up for the betterment of all humankind.

The decision to pull out of the agreement, which intends to limit global temperature rise to less than 1.5 degree Celsius; puts our “common future” at high risk and forcing other countries to live unfriendly with the environment.

THE first day I came into close proximity ...

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Author: DR FELICIAN B. KILAHAMA

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