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EDITORIAL: For a livable future the humanity has got to stem the rise of planet-warming carbon emissions, says the latest warning issued by the United Nations, adding it is a question of now or never to avoid climate catastrophe. And this must be done within the next less than three years. But, according to UN chief Antonio Guterress who released the 2,800-page report prepared by the UN’s Intergovernmental Planet on Climate Change (IPCC) on Monday, whatever so far has been promised and enacted by the world governments, was nothing but “a litany of broken climate promises.

“Some governments and business leaders are saying one thing — but doing another. Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic,” he said. But IPCC chief Hoesung Lee was a bit optimistic, claiming it is doable as the world has the required tools “provided the nations of the world are brave enough”. According to the report, as the very first item on the global ‘to-do’ list is to stop greenhouse gas emissions from rising any further.

And that must be done before 2025 because even a barely 1.1 C of warming so far has ushered in a surge of deadly extreme weather across the globe. And then the report wants what was wanted earlier by many such reports but not done — it wants the world to radically reduce the fossil fuels as they are the principal source of emissions, which it wants to drop 43 percent by 2030 and 84 percent by mid-century. It also wants the nations to stop burning coal completely and cut oil and gas use by 60 and 70 percent, respectively, and go for solar and wind that are cheaper than fossil fuels in many places. Among other dos and don’ts the IPCC report underscores the need for cutting back on long-haul flights, switching to plant-based diets, climate-proofing buildings and other ways of cutting the consumption that drives energy demand.

Even when the IPCC report is quite idealistic — in that its call runs counter to the fact that main producers of greenhouse gases are also the world political leaders and their economies depend on extensive use fossil fuels — it is a warning if not heeded now would be recalled with sense of repentance when temperatures would rise beyond tolerance, seas would invade island states, glaciers would melt away and food productivity would be a challenge.

On the list of countries likely to be most adversely affected by global warming Pakistan ranks high. Yes, for none of its faults but that is no more an excuse to remain indifferent to the rising threat of climate change on its own. The climate change is expected to have wide-ranging impacts such as reduced agricultural productivity, increased variability of water availability, increased coastal erosion, sea water incursions and increased frequency of extreme climatic events.

These are huge challenges, but haven’t received the kind of attention they deserve both at public and private levels. About 90 percent of our food productivity is dependent on water which is now under severe threat as the feeding glaciers are melting fast, the extensive misuse of water for farms remains unchecked and the generality’s adoptive capacity is quite low. So, what to do? A list of ‘what-to-do’ prepared by experts in the field underscores the need for building more dams to store water, eliminating farm water wastage, placing a ban on use of diesel vehicles in mountainous regions and switching to renewable energy resources.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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