Washington based think tank and advocacy group Oil Change International in association with 14 other climate change groups have come out with a very relevant report which assesses the fossil fuel production and its likely impact on the climate change which has received global attention in the recent time in Paris climate meet where new goals for global warming were decided. The report highlights the dark side of the moon which has been explored first time in serious manner after the Paris meet. The report is significant because it is the first scientific report to examine critically the future of Paris Climate talks.
The report takes into account the basic decision reached in Paris talks that countries would make efforts to restrict the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C, and to effort to restrict it to 1.5°C. This was not an ambitious plan as the global temperature was on consistent rise and the nation states took the narrow approach to the climate change and global warming as they contrasted their national interests with the global concerns where the local demands were allocated more valuation than the civilizational needs. The major focus of the report is that even these limits as decided by Paris meet will be hard to achieve due to excessive use and extraction of the fossil fuels which is the major cause of the global warming.
The main argument of the report is that world has limited carbon budget which means that carbon dioxide is being continuously accumulated which is the cause of global is warming. Therefore this gives a ‘finite carbon budget of how much may be emitted in total without surpassing dangerous temperature limits.’
In order to reach the Paris goals- ‘for the 2°C or 1.5°C limits, respectively 68% or 85% of fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground.’ Therefore the immediate need is that new fossil fuel construction sites should not be developed. Some efforts have been made by US, China and Indonesia but the reality exceeds beyond common thinking as the ‘projected investment in new fields, mines, and transportation infrastructure over the next twenty years is $14 trillion’ which is quite high and capable to disturb the climate system as more extraction will increase the global warming and the decided goals will be pushed beyond the reach. The attainment of the Parris goals will remain a critical problem if only the new constructions are stopped from coming up which in itself is not a cakewalk but it is equally mandatory that existing oil and other drillings and extraction mines be closed down or their production be limited otherwise the warming will continue to increase; finally failing the goals.
The major point is that ‘with just 18% of the world’s population, industrialized countries have accounted for over 60% of emissions to date, and possess far greater financial resources to address the climate problem.’ Therefore the burden is on the developed countries to limit their extraction moreover they are possessed with the required technology and financial capability but they lack political will to do so; and assign more importance to their individual needs and pay attention to maintenance of high living standard of their own country which they do not wish to disturb. This is global hara-kiri that only few leaders from the North industrialized world has put the globe under stress.
The report has recommended that no new infrastructure should be developed either in rich or poor country for the extraction of the fossil fuels except in cases where no other option for energy is available. Report says that Paris climate goals will be failed if extraction continues in any form. There is clear statement that mammoth efforts need to be taken in order to ‘stay within our carbon budgets, (and) we must go further than stopping new construction: some fossil fuel extraction assets must be closed before they are exploited fully. These early shut-downs should occur predominantly in rich countries.’ The report asks developed countries that they should ‘help expand non-carbon energy and drive economic development, as part of their fair share of global action.’ The report says that it is responsibility of the developed countries to save the developing countries from several problems as ‘around the world, over a billion people have no electricity in their home. Nearly three billion rely on wood or other biomass for cooking or heating.’ and their support is needed to attain the Sustainable Development Goals which are to be accomplished by 2030.
Report also lays emphasis on the rights of the aboriginals and the common people. This section of the society has not been allocated sufficient importance in the global fossil fuel business. The indigenous people have lived in the lands since ages but the industrialized countries in the name of economic development did not take note of their existence and these people, entrenched as an integral part of the vulnerable section, with least power to combat the onslaught of the flawed arguments suffered the most. For this reason the report states that ‘extraction should not continue where it violates the rights of local people – including indigenous peoples – nor should it continue where resulting pollution would cause intolerable health impacts or seriously damage biodiversity.’
The world is faced with several problems but the most threatening among these is climate change and global warming because these have the inbuilt capacity to decimate the Home sapiens from this planet earth. The nature has provided human beings several gifts among which the discretion and cognitive development at individual level is unique but sad story is that these have been misused and are being misused by those who live in ‘false glass image’ condition that they are the best decision makers but it is not so. They must take out time to ponder over these policy suggestions for saving the human lives.
Dr Vivek Kumar Srivastava is the Vice-Chairman, CSSP, Kanpur and a Consultant, CRIEPS, mail- firstname.lastname@example.org