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eDITORIAL-Climate change: It’s now or never

26 September 2014 07:11 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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A selfish, self-centred and greedy world order has during the past four decades brought Planet Earth to a now-or-never catastrophe. We must take immediate and effective action to curb carbon dioxide emissions or we will face self destruction during the coming decades. The seriousness of the issue was highlighted at the one-day global climate change summit on Tuesday and the people of Sri Lanka also need to become aware and take action, collectively and individually, to save our country.

Political religious and business leaders need to step out and give leadership to the people in this do-or-die battle to save Planet Earth.

The world leaders attending the climate change summit organized by the United Nations agreed on Tuesday to widen the use of renewable energy and raise billions of dollars in aid for developing countries. This will be part of an effort to increase the prospects for a wide-ranging deal to slow global warming. The summit hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, set goals to halt losses of tropical forests by 2030, improve food production and increase the share of electric vehicles in cities to 30 per cent of new vehicle sales by 2030.

However although these initiatives are non-binding all nations including Sri Lanka must come to the awareness and act fast because if they do not it will be too late. The initiatives were taken by various coalitions of governments, multinational companies, cities, financial groups, investors, environmental organizations and other groups.

The targets are meant to help prepare for a 200-nation summit in Paris next year to finalise a deal to slow rising greenhouse gas emissions. Until now, work has been slow with many countries more focussed on improving economic growth and creating jobs.

Governments and investors said they would raise more than US$ 200 billion in climate financing by the end of next year, including US$ 30 billion in green bonds by commercial banks and US$ 100 billion from development banks.

The UN chief said he hoped this would serve as a catalyst in finalising a universal and meaningful agreement on climate change in Paris in 2015.
The UN said in a statement that pledges of financial support would give a “significant boost” to a promise by rich nations in 2009 to raise US$100 billion a year by 2020 from all sources to help poor countries shift to renewable energy and adapt to heatwaves, droughts and rising seas.

Separately, an alliance of about 30 countries including the United States and a coalition of multinational companies set a goal of halving losses of forests by 2020 and halting losses by 2030. If fully implemented, this would stave off between 4.5 billion and 8.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year, equivalent to emissions by all the world’s one billion cars.

Trees soak up carbon dioxide from the air as they grow and release it when they die. Burning of forests from the Amazon to the Congo, mainly to make farmland—and mega projects in Sri Lanka - account for up to a fifth of all greenhouse gases generated by human sources.

Addressing the summit in the aftermath of Sri Lanka’s worst-ever drought President Mahinda Rajapaksa said our country’s leaders had been drawing inspiration from the philosophy of Gautma Buddha preached by Arahat Mahinda that the Earth and its vegetation did not belong to the rulers and that the rulers were only temporary trustees who had to protect the environment for the benefit of future generations.

Responding to a request made by the U.N. Secretary-General to the leaders attending the summit to present a national statement that will outline a vision to achieve the goal to reduce emissions, President Rajapaksa explained that in the Mahinda Chintanaya, the policy agenda of the Government to address climate change, had included several strategies to be adopted by Sri Lanka.

Many independent environmentalists in Sri Lanka while agreeing with the philosophy preached by Arahat Mahinda raised questions on the extent to which the Mahinda Chinthanaya proclamations were being implemented, because of the growing rape of forests and the air pollution by thousands of non-essential vehicles on the city streets.
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