Chiefs of the World – government leaders of 195 countries – have converged into Paris, France, this week with one main goal in mind to achieve from this major UN Summit on Climate Change: to attempt to agree (secure) a new universal deal to tackle climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions. In total up to 40,000 people will take part in this 2-week summit.
The UN wants to secure a truly universal global deal/agreement on tackling climate change for the first time, as part of efforts to prevent the temperature rising by more than 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels this century.
Scientists agree that above that level the world is likely to see the most severe effects of climate change, including heatwaves, droughts and flooding.
Although there were previous summits on climate change, the Copenhagen summit in 2009 was the last time that world leaders met with the intention of agreeing on a binding global deal, which they hoped would cover emissions cuts from 2012. However, that summit ended in acrimony.
“Although Croatia’s footprint on the total global CO2 emissions is a minute 0.06% one, the negative effects of climate change are felt in Croatia in the same way as they are felt across the rest of the world,” says in the Press release dated 30 November, Ministry for the Protection Of Environment and Nature, Croatia.
Indeed, Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, reiterated the words of the above Press release at the Paris summit where he led a Croatian delegation. Croatia, of course, will not be making any strides or new policy directions or statements that would make a difference to the goals set out for the summit, however Croatia is set to follow EU’s direction and directives in the climate change arena. Nevertheless Croatia’s Prime Minister did briefly address the summit in Paris on Monday 30 November.
“…the responsibilities and obligations should be allocated to parties not only on the basis of their greenhouse gas emissions but also considering their capacities of their GDP. Countries that largely contribute to emissions and have the economic strength to take measures must take on more responsibilities…,” said Milanovic.
In other words, according to the Croatian Prime Minister: those that have more should pay more!
Droughts, floods like the catastrophic recent ones of Eastern Slavonia or extreme temperatures have been seen as threats to the environment, to health and security of citizens and to the Croatian national economy. Croatian government’s plans to fall into the world efforts to battle climate change include strategies of low-carbon developments.
The Framework for the Low-emission Development Strategy of Croatia, prepared in cooperation with UNDP (UN Development Program), has been used as the basis for the development of the Low-Carbon Development Strategy (click here for PDF version), with defined sectoral aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Croatia had committed to develop the Low-emission Development Strategy as part of duty towards the European Union and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which fosters countries to prepare low-carbon development strategies and indicates that climate change requires developing long-term strategies in accordance with sustainable development. The development strategy aims at separating economic development from the exploitation of limited natural resources. While the emphasis is on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions, the more far-reaching goal is to make development plans that take into consideration mutual dependency between humans and nature.
Low-carbon development was/is also a part of the solution for the most important economic problem in Croatia: unemployment. UNDP’s research pointed out that a balanced focus on the energy efficiency and renewable energy sources could lead to the creation of 80 000 new “green” jobs and help Croatia fulfill the obligations connected to climate change. A lack of funds is not an excuse as Croatia spends 5-6 per cent of its GDP on the import of fossil fuels at the moment. These funds could be relocated to foster the development of renewables – stated UNDP on its website.
Zoran Milanovic’s government has been very slack, slow and ineffective in truly making positive and significant inroads in the creation of enough new “green” jobs to make a visible positive difference in unemployment figures; any green job created seems to get eaten up by another job lost or another company gone bankrupt. Perhaps the 2015 Paris summit on climate change may provide stepping-stones for Croatia to advance in the low-carbon development process.
Generally, the message coming out loudly so far from the Paris summit on climate change is that the leading countries of the world recognise for the first time in history the opportunities that come with taking action and that if they don’t take action their prosperity will suffer! Furthermore, it would seem that the consensus in Paris is, so far, that actions to be taken to combat climate change are not once-off actions or single actions as the Kyoto protocol might have suggested and promoted but that effective actions are in effect a process, even a long-term one.
If a universal deal or agreement is reached in Paris it, alone, most likely will not be enough to stop dangerous climate change. The process of actions will need to be heavily studded with determination, creativity, funds to invest in renewable energy sources etc. According to the UN, various national pledges to cut emissions made ahead of the 2015 Paris summit are likely to leave the world on course for warming of at least 2.7C. That will make a significant “dent” in the warming that might otherwise be seen, but not enough to prevent dangerous warming.
The aim of the Paris Summit is to also agree on a framework that will make countries improve their formerly expressed pledges of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as setting a long-term goal that will help limit warming to 2C.
All countries will need to curb their emissions if dangerous effects of climate change are to be stopped in their tracks. One senses, though, that the developing countries do not want to miss out on the economic growth that developed nations have enjoyed on the back of fossil fuels and will seek greater leeway over actions they are to take in battling climate change. They will also want financial help to do all this and if one reads between the lines of Croatian Prime Minister’s words money is central to the success whichever way one looks at it. Money indeed seems to present as a major stumbling block and barrier to “ideal” speed of progress in battling dangerous effects of climate change and Croatian like several other EU countries, will depend on the size of the EU purse unless it lifts its governance game and injects more local knowledge, effort and resources into the low-carbon development plan realisation in order to pursue a truly greener path. Perhaps in days that come Croatia will soon have a new government that may turn a greener leaf in Croatia’s renewable energy source development and industry growth.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi while acknowledging the reality that conventional energy sources such as coal would continue to be used at present said that funds were necessary to clean up coal-based generation. This could be done using the Green Climate Fund, which needs scaling up, he said.
“Show me the money!” (if you want action) is likely THE mantra to come out of the Paris summit on climate change, sadly making the summit into a spectacular fizz. But 11 December 2015 – when summit ends – is still a fair way away and chances of an easier deal, a not-so-slippery one as the one dependent on cold-hard-cash tends to be, may yet crop up. One reality remains though – all policies that limit the use of fossil or conventional fuels seem to make everyone poorer and the poor nations suffer the most unless money is guaranteed and in supply to prop-up clean energy sources. Some poorer nations of the world, grossly and negatively affected by climate change, are lobbying and urging the Paris summit for a 1.5C target instead of the 2C warming above pre-industrial era levels. This latest target is indeed ambitious vis-à-vis the will and the might we have seen “the world” display so far and it could well prove to be an another lever raising the “Show me the money!” dependency any notable success of widespread curbing of greenhouse gas emissions has. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A.,M.A.Ps.(Syd)