Tackling Climate Change Can Help India, China With Health Benefits

Tackling Climate Change Can Help India, China With Health Benefits

Global emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide have risen substantially and are expected to hit record levels this year, scientists have projected in a new report. "Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption".

The recent WHO report is actually based on contributions from over 80 health and academic professionals, civil society representatives and global agencies who have earlier worked on climate change and public health. Before 2018, American emissions had been in decline for several years (although, some of that dip was a function of the US outsourcing its carbon footprint to other countries).

The Paris Agreement is potentially the strongest health agreement of this century, in not only addressing the health risks associated with climate change through mitigation and adaptation mechanisms, but also in helping ensure the attainment of the SDGs, which are integral to good health. In 2017, the emissions increased 1.6%.

The finding on rich nations" emission is part of a report of the UN climate body on "progress and gaps' in pre-2020 targets of these countries.

"[Current] energy and climate policies are not sufficient to overcome the growth in economic activity or energy-use growth", said Glen Peters, research director at the Center for International Climate Research in Norway and a co-author of the new report.

Coupled with Wednesday's findings, that drumbeat of daunting news has cast a considerable pall over the worldwide climate talks in Poland, which began this week and are scheduled to run through December 14. But under the Paris Agreement (which is meant for post-2020 actions), the responsibility to cut emissions falls on all countries as per their voluntarily set targets. On the other hand, the U.S. had pledged to withdraw from the landmark agreement in 2017.

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Mohamed Adow, global climate lead for Christian Aid, said poor people in developing countries most exposed to climate hazards simply can not wait.

The researchers said global carbon dioxide emissions have China's carbon emissions account for 27% of the global total and have increased an estimated 4.7% in 2018. However, emissions were stable for the three years before that.

But Yang said that these areas were not representative of the whole country, and that China was generally on the right track. "We can't afford to delay action any further".

Such changes - in all large-emitting nations - have to happen fast.

The world leaders along with officials will be attending two-week meeting at the 24 Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) to set guidelines that will convert the Paris climate agreement into a practical reality. That would be either keeping the Earth's warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius - when it is already at 1 degrees - or only briefly "overshooting" that temperature.

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