Wary of a catastrophic future, leaders of the low-lying and island nations came together at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to implore the richer nations to take immediate action regarding global emissions causing climate change. “We simply have no ground to cede,” said the Marshall Islands president, David Kabua, at the assembly. He also stressed the fact that the world cannot deny climate change since we observe its devastating effects every day. Global emissions contribute to an increasing temperature, which plays an integral part in rising sea levels. This threatens the low-lying countries since they have to afford its impending repercussions. The Maldives president, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih also agreed with Kabua, stating that the “difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees is a death sentence for the Maldives”. He reminded the rich countries of the unprecedented havoc unleashed on them due to their global contribution to the crisis.
Environmental scientists and experts have repeatedly warned the world leaders about the rising global temperature that contributes to the melting of ice caps, leading to a rise in sea levels. According to the report published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average sea level of 2019 was 3.4 inches, the highest average on record. “The climate change will kill far more people than COVID-19 pandemic will,” said Guyana President Irfan Ali. Guyana is one of the low-lying countries protected by sea walls, currently facing the immediate threat of climate change. Ali claimed that the world’s worst emitters of greenhouse gases are affecting the welfare of mankind. “By the end, it will profit them little to emerge king over the world of dust,” said Ali. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson requested the world to “grow up” and get serious about climate change. The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken also highlighted the necessity for stronger action on climate change. All these remarks come a month before the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) begins in Glasgow on October 31. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “There is still mistrust between north and south, developed and developing countries.” He also warned that humanity is on the verge of the abyss, and that one must be very careful regarding the next step, i.e. the COP26.
According to the 2005 Paris Agreement on Climate change and Mitigation, countries agreed to limit the rise in global temperature by 1.5 degrees. Scientists have stressed that the world can avoid the worst impacts of global warming only if it’s possible to cut the global emissions by half, by 2030, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. As per the Climate Change Report 2020, the global sea level has risen by 8-9 inches since 1880, a third which has happened in the last two and a half decades. There are two main reasons behind the rise in sea level. Firstly, as global emissions increase, the thermal expansion of sea water takes place. Secondly, the melting of the ice slabs contributes to the rise. The global mean water level in the oceans rose by 0.14 inches per year from 2006 to 2015. By the end of the century, the global mean sea level is likely to rise at least one foot aboe 2000 levels. This cannot be avoided even if we follow a low greenhouse gas pathway. Various events leading to this future are evident from the statistics of different natural calamities around the world. Even flooding in the US has become 300-900 percent more frequent than 50 years ago.
Developed nations including the US and China also expressed their stand at the UNGA. Both of them seem to have a self proclamatory attitude towards climate change. US President Joe Biden has promised to work with the US Congress to double the funds for climate change by 2024 to $11.4 billion per year. This could result in a vast amount of aid for the developing nations in their fight against climate change. The funding will help in achieving the goal of accumulating $100 billion dollars per year to support climate change. Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised to stop building and sanctioning coal-fired power plants that contribute towards the rise in global emissions. British PM Johnson said that they aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. He also warned that if the current trajectory continues, the temperature will go up by 2.7 degrees or more by the end of the century.
Youth leaders also came forward at the Youth4Climate summit to discuss and submit their regards on climate change. Greta Thunberg ridiculed Biden’s speeches, saying, “All we hear from the leaders is just blah… blah… blah…” She further said, “When I say climate change what do you think of… I think jobs, green jobs…” Greta’s efforts were praised by Pope Francis while thanking 400 attendees who participated in the Youth4Climate summit. He appreciated the efforts of young activists challenging world leaders to fulfill their commitments of cutting emissions.