Protect for the Future

Placing first things first at COY/COP17 in Durban South Africa
By James Gondwe, [email protected]

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have focussed global efforts to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. Yet many crucial targets are in danger of not being reached by 2015, which will have devastating impacts for the wellbeing of people throughout the world mostly those in developing countries. MDG 7: to ensure environmental sustainability is one of those targets in the face of climate change.

Climate change is the greatest environmental threat but considering that climate change is a global issue it requires solutions on a global level. All countries of the world must be involved. However it seems difficult for the world to unify on this particularly when there has been no success on international climate talks to date. Global concern with Anthropogenic induced climate change caused by emissions of Green House Gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and others which come from burning fossil fuels and other gases are not friendly to the atmosphere.

Rich and developed countries are responsible for what is called ecological debt because they have emitted most gases in the atmosphere. Yet it is in the developing world where the poorest and most vulnerable face the greatest difficulties in adapting and mitigating the impacts of climate change. It’s like the rich world owes the poor a climate debt.

Irrespective of all these situations many people living in developing countries have witnessed that climate change is a reality through higher incidences of extreme weather events and worse yet to come. Impacts of climate change can be seen in areas of agriculture, water, forestry and health. Climate change is affecting more countries in Africa and those in the developing stage due to their poor economic stand to adapt/mitigate the impacts of climate change.

With just a week to COY/COP17 in Durban South Africa, what are the priorities? Whatever the discussions maybe, parties should consider the plight of the poor people suffering from the impacts of floods, drought, higher temperatures and many others as a result of climate change.

Saving agriculture in the context of climate change should be at the helm of the discussion.

On the other hand parties should prioritise reduction in carbon dioxide emissions on global level. However, many countries of the world are reluctant to commit to major carbon cuts because they fear this will have seriously negative economic impact. Currently fossil fuels when burn produce carbon emissions so the quicker fossil fuels gets replaced with renewable energy sources the better. A rapid transition to clean renewable energy would be one of the strategies to reduce carbon emissions on global level

What are the cons of renewable energy sources? Renewable energy sources are more expensive than fossil fuels especially in the developing countries. Most developing countries depend so much on coal which emits more carbon.

Parties should also work on stopping deforestation. Forests absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Whatever the debate may be forest protection from deforestation and afforest ration programmes should also be at the heart of the discussion.

At the heart of discussions, parties should consider these priorities. Strategise on saving the earth and protecting it for the future.

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