Climate Change a pandemic in the making, but not taken seriously: experts

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ISLAMABAD, APR 7 (DNA) – Climate change is a pandemic in the making as there is rise in temperature, scarcity of water, and unbreathable air, but most of the governments are not taking it seriously, said Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

In his welcome remarks at an international online webinar titled: State of Climate Governance Post COVID-19, organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad here on Tuesday, he said Covid-19 is a black swan event (low probability very high impact). “We were warned that a novel virus may threaten mankind, but no one took it seriously and now the planet is suffering,” he maintained.

Learning from COVID-19, he said, we must take climate change as a real and serious threat and get prepared for it. In post-corona world, he said, the world should continue spending on building resilience against climate change, otherwise the future will be very bleak. “One stich in time always saves nine”, he added.

Dr Saleem ul Haq, Director, International Centre for Climate Change & Development, Bangladesh said the global target of 1.5 degrees becomes less and less achievable with every single day, as we are not acting to control it. COVID-19 is just a smaller and faster version of how the impacts of climate change will be, he said, adding that we talk about reducing the steepness of the curve for COVID, the same applies for climate change in a bigger way.

Stressing the need to act before the situation, he acting after the impact will be useless. The global leaders have an important role to play in decision-making regarding their openness to listening to climate science, he said, adding that the relative impact of the leaders who take early action is based on science and making difficult decisions such as taken by Taiwan, Germany, and Singapore.

Dr Fahad Saeed, Regional Climate Scientist at Climate Analytics Science, Germany,saidcurrently the world is releasing 42 giga tonne emissions per year that should reduce to half by 2030, otherwise we’ll reach the end of carbon budget within 10-15 years. He stressed the need to achieve zero emissions by 2050.

Ms Aisha Khan, Executive Director, Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change (CSCCC), said it is unfortunate that the pandemic happened and is now stretching on. “Climate change needs multilateral decision-making. We need to bring people together to discuss the real issue. Climate Change may be a slow-burner but the impacts will be harsher than the pandemic.” She said when push comes to shove, every country will try to use the resources they have for themselves and become more inward looking, so at the end of the day, it will be a moral question. It also relates to the type of governance we need, and citizens have a great role to play, she added.

Harjeet Singh, Global Lead on Climate Change, ActionAid,  said the UNFCCC is in town because we are demanding social justice. He said just 100 companies are responsible for 70% of emissions and these companies are responsible for taking us to this stage of emissions. “I think only a policy change will change the situation. We need grass roots level movements of indigenous people, women and minorities to come and challenge the power structures,” he added.

Joydeep Gupta, Director, The Third Pole, said huge risks and opportunities are here amid these testing times. He said COVID-19 will go away at the end and after that huge economic stimulus will be there for industry and businesses. He said if we go through the same slow process and keep doing that, it will not help us unless our economic model changes to green growth.

Mazhar Hayat, Deputy Secretary,Ministry of Climate Change, said we have 20% emission reduction target. He said the government has given climate a priority agenda and we are working on revised inventory of emissions. The ministry wants to go ahead with sector specific reduction targets, he said, adding that the process has shifted since COVID-19 hit the country.

Dr Imran Khalid, SDPI Research Fellow, said in the context of the recent move to develop a SAARC initiative around COVID-19 response, it is a great opportunity to take Climate Change agenda forward through this platform. Talking about the policy imperatives, he said, it should be highlighted that where do we stand viz our commitments in the run up to COP 26.