Millennium Post

Success story?

Success story?

It is hard to overstate how conclusively ineffectual global efforts to tackle climate change have been and continue to be. It was towards the end of the 1980s when many say climate change finally entered the limelight for the first time. It started in 1988 when the Director of NASA's Institute for Space Studies stood before a Senate committee on energy and natural resources and warned of the devastating effect of greenhouse gases and their effects on global temperature and climate change. If sources are to be believed Dr James Hansen sparked quite a collective furore across America that crossed party lines and united America. The bipartisan way that climate change was introduced to the public meant that it could be portrayed as yet another problem that America and America alone could solve, indeed, had to solve for the sake of the world (even if America itself was the largest responsible party).

Not too long after, America rallied the world in an effort that would eventually produce the Paris Treaty that would in theory limit carbon emissions. As a broad base issue with many facets, the terms of the treaty were left deliberately loose and more importantly non-binding. A general goal was given to limit the future temperate increase (which was considered inevitable by that point) to two degrees celsius. Additionally, countries could then set their own additional goals, guidelines and timelines for achieving these targets. From the onset, it was noted that the carbon emission goals were not exactly ambitious. Indeed they may have been made deliberately achievable to at the very least, kick off the effort without significantly compromising or inconveniencing the industrial capability of any nation. It was hoped that the climate conversation would evolve over the years as nations transitioned down the admittedly difficult task of changing how a modern nation operates and pollutes. An admirable hope no doubt but not one that would be fulfilled in any sense of the word.

Indeed, as the science behind climate change becomes more certain about the facts, it is the political will of nations which is attempting to pull away. In the US for instance, despite a bipartisan start, climate change quickly became a political topic with specific policy implications. Climate change sceptics questioned the science and labelled the whole thing as 'anti-industry' and even 'anti-American'. President Trump is known to have even famously called climate change a Chinese hoax to make American companies less competitive abroad. It is an unfortunate fact that no single major industrial power is close to fulfilling its commitments under the Paris Treaty, with one notable exception.

For the past few years, several think tanks globally have noted that India is likely the only G20 country actually on track to achieving what it had promised on the world stage in 2015 in regards to carbon emission goals. The recently released 2020 Climate Transparency Report confirmed as such, stating that India was making 'fair' progress towards achieving its goal of limiting global warming to two degrees. In particular, India's large scale efforts to switch to renewable energy sources such as solar power has been particularly praised as an example to the world. It is worth noting that no country is closer to the revised 1.5 degrees Celsius target that was set later. Still, India's efforts shine a beacon of hope on an endeavour that has otherwise looked dead on arrival for the past three decades.

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