THE UNITED Nations has launched the Decade on Biodiversity with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urging the humanity to live in harmony with nature and to preserve and properly manage its riches for the prosperity of present and future generations.
It is now widely recognized that climate change and biodiversity are interconnected. In fact, the latter is affected by the former, with negative consequences for human well-being, but biodiversity, through the ecosystem services support, also makes an important contribution to both climate change mitigation and adaptation.
After extended negotiations over the weekend, the 194 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have agreed on a package of decisions, known as the Durban Platform, which include the launch of a protocol or legal instrument that would apply to all members, a second commitment period for the existing Kyoto Protocol and the launch of the Green Climate Fund.
The 194 countries negotiating here have also agreed that such a universal plan must be completed by 2015 at the latest. For the first time, all major nations – developed and developing – have agreed to a roadmap that would combat climate change reducing greenhouse gas emissions to control the global warming that would not come into effect before 2020.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed this consensus. He was gratified that the countries reached decisions to implement the Cancun Agreements, which were reached at the last year’s conference in Mexico. The new measures include setting up of a Technology Mechanism that will promote access by developing countries to clean, low-carbon technologies, and establishing an Adaptation Committee that will coordinate adaptation activities on a global scale.
The European Union said that the world’s three nations that pollute the most are the biggest obstacles to setting a timeline to a legally binding pact on global warming and that it won’t “cave in” on its demands.
Currently, only industrial countries have legally binding on emissions under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Althoughthose commitments expire next year, but they will be extended for another five years under the accord adopted in January last – a key demand by developing countries seeking to preserve the only existing treaty regulating the carbon emissions.
But environmentalists and representatives from smaller countries were underwhelmed by the deal, saying the urgency of the problem of climate change demanded a shorter timeline for action. These people also said that the deal could be easily ignored by major economies responsible for mass emissions.
The United States never signed the Kyoto treaty because it did not accept its division between developed and developing countries. Todd D. Stern, the Chief American Climate Negotiator, says that he is hopeful that talks in coming years would produce a more equitable arrangement.
From the World Bank commissioned report in 2009: “Public attitudes toward climate change: findings from a multi-country poll”
It is pertinent to mention here that Asia was the worst hit region due to the severe climate change. Mainly Pakistan is one of the countries that have been severely hit in the recent years by disastrous effects of climate change – particularly flash floods and devastating earthquakes.
“Developed nations are not guilty of causing the climate change that the developing nations claim they are suffering,” said Tom Harris, Executive Director of ICSC, which is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. “Climate changes all the time – both warming and cooling – due to natural causes and there is nothing that we can do to stop it. However, to the degree possible, and considering our economic circumstances, developed nations still have a moral obligation to devote a proportion of their foreign aid to helping the world’s most vulnerable people adapt to natural climate events.”
Human activities have caused the extinction of plants and animals at some hundreds or thousands of times faster than what the natural rate would have been Akasaka pointed out.
“We cannot reverse extinction. We can, however, prevent future extinction of other species right now. For the next 10 years our commitment to protecting more than eight million species, and our wisdom in contributing to a balance of life, will be put to a test,” said Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, in the Japanese city of Kanazawa.
Species can adapt to gradual changes in their environment through evolution, but climate change often moves too quickly for them to do so. It’s not the absolute temperature, but it is the the rate of change that matters. Put simply, if climate change is large enough, quick enough, and on a global scale, it can be the perfect ingredient for a mass extinction.
We can’t tell the future of evolution, but we can look at the past for reference points.