Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Climate crisis: scientists say act now or face 'untold suffering'

Researchers say governments need to take action to curb human activities that are negatively affecting the environment

More than 11,000 scientists endorse new research that says governments are failing to meet demands of climate crisis. AP
More than 11,000 scientists endorse new research that says governments are failing to meet demands of climate crisis. AP

New research backed by more than 11,000 scientists says governments around the world are failing to address the climate-change crisis.

The study, published by the University of Sydney in Australia, said the Earth was facing a “climate emergency” and scientists have a moral obligation to “clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat”.

Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations since the First World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1979, the lead authors of the paper said governments have taken a business-as-usual approach to climate solutions and have “failed to address this predicament”.

We are encouraged by a recent surge of concern. Governmental bodies are making climate emergency declarations, schoolchildren are striking…many countries and businesses are responding

Dr Thomas Newsome, University of Sydney

Warning of insufficient global progress, researchers said the world's people face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis”. More than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries endorsed the research by publicly signing the paper.

According to the report, human activity has largely contributed to global warming. The growth of human and animal populations, per capita meat production, tree-cover loss as well as fossil-fuel consumption have all had a detrimental effect on the environment.

In September, a YouGov study of 30,000 people in 28 countries revealed the majority of respondents believe humans have fuelled the climate crisis.

Of the 1,009 respondents in the UAE, 52 per cent said they believed human activity was the main cause of loss and degradation of the environment.

Public knowledge about the climate crisis is on the rise. The recent strikes by school pupils and university students around the world has put increasing pressure on governments to adopt new policies.

In mid-September, more than four million children and adults rallied in climate strikes around the world.

“We are encouraged by a recent surge of concern. Governmental bodies are making climate emergency declarations, schoolchildren are striking…many countries and businesses are responding,” lead author Dr Thomas Newsome said.

The research showed some progress has been made. Renewable energy use has grown significantly, with consumption of wind and solar increasing 373 per cent over the past decade. But it was still 28 times smaller than fossil-fuel use in 2018.

Researchers said real solutions needed to be put into action now. And it is up to governments to put official measures in place to curb the breadth of human activities which are negatively affecting the planet.

They outlined six areas of focus including energy, diet and population.

Imposing higher carbon fees could help discourage the widespread use of fossil fuels and encourage countries to use cleaner sources of energy. When it comes to diet, eating mostly plant-based foods while reducing the global consumption of animal products could significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing food waste was also seen as critical.

Stabilising the global population is another huge area of focus. Currently, about 200,000 births are recorded each day – or 80 million a year – and this needs to decrease. Making family-planning services available to all people would ensure that human rights are met while helping to lower fertility rates.

A herd of camels graze close to the sprawling solar park in Sweihan. Courtesy: Noor Abu Dhabi
A herd of camels graze close to the sprawling solar park in Sweihan. Courtesy: Noor Abu Dhabi

On a local level, the UAE is ramping up efforts to deal with the climate crisis.

The large-scale use of solar and clean energy technologies across the country is an example.

Near the small town of Sweihan in Abu Dhabi, a stone’s throw from the Dubai border, the Noor solar power plant has more than 3.2 million solar panels soaking up the sun.

Enough power is produced on the eight-square-kilometre site to power 90,000 homes.

The largest solar project in the world, it is also playing its part in the battle to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change, reducing the Emirates' carbon dioxide emissions by a million metric tonnes, the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off the road.

In 2015, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced Dubai’s aim to generate 75 per cent of its energy from clean sources by 2050 as part of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Energy also launched the country’s National Climate Change Plan 2017-2050 to manage greenhouse gas emissions while sustaining economic growth.

Updated: November 6, 2019 12:36 PM

SHARE

SHARE