Mitigation and adaptation | Political economics



For a very long time, climate change has been considered by many to be a myth. These people did not care about the changes. Today, climate change has become a reality that most people recognize.

According to the United Nations, “the oceans are warming 40% faster than forecast five years ago”. A study published in April 2019, Environmental Research Lettersindicates that the Arctic biophysical system is moving away from its 20th century state to a state without precedent.

The world is experiencing a rapid increase in deforestation as the burgeoning population needs land for food and shelter. Climate change can no longer be considered a myth. Each of us must respond to it by following the mitigation and adaptation measures vis à vis stop environmental degradation.

The global temperature has been steadily rising since the era of the pre-industrial revolution. The main driver of this increase is the burning of fossil fuels, as it has increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

These gases form a cloud trapping the heat reflected from the Earth. As a result, the ambient temperature increases. This is evident in the increasing length of summers in recent times. It should be noted that climate change exacerbated by human activities has degraded 75% of the land and 40% of the oceans.

Climate change was discussed at COP26 held from October 31 to November 12, 2021. Leaders from 197 countries participated in the talks.

Dinosaurs became extinct due to human activities. Nevertheless, only humans will be responsible for their eventual extinction. Globally, the United States is the second largest user of fossil fuels by volume. It is the largest in terms of per capita use. In 2015, the Paris round of talks identified a target which, if not achieved, would have devastating consequences such as extreme weather events, droughts and floods.

All these consequences are now daily news. Climate change is one of the most related risks facing the world. The industrialized countries are responsible for almost half of the emissions even though they represent only 20% of the world’s population.

Globally, the United States is the second largest user of fossil fuels by volume and largest by per capita use. In 2015, the Paris summit identified an emissions reduction target which, if not met, will have devastating consequences, including extreme weather events, droughts and floods.

To save this world, we must adopt appropriate measures to stop the threatening changes and mitigate the long-term effects. Environmental degradation is closely linked to adaptation and mitigation measures. It is human activities that affect the climate the most.

REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is an adaptive measure where GHG and fossil fuel emissions are countered. Similarly, CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) is another way to deal with CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

In this technique, the released carbon is technologically dumped into a large hole. It is an expensive method that poor countries cannot afford. Thus, the poorest countries are the most vulnerable to climate change. One of the relevant points for adapting to climate change under COP26 was to ensure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.

Mitigation measures are equally important. One of the key measures according to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is the reduction of carbon emissions and the efficient use of energy. This includes switching to nuclear power, bioenergy and renewables as well as reforestation.

Likewise, CO2 emissions should be reduced in transport modes through technical improvements, behavioral changes and urban development. The next option in mitigation measures is the replacement of coal-fired power plants with efficient natural gas power.

Pakistan has a very low contribution to total GHG emissions, but the country is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. In Pakistan, fresh water comes from melting snow and glaciers and monsoon rains. Both are very sensitive to climate change.

Climate change is a cross-border issue. It is a responsibility common to all countries.

Adaptation to climate change is the need of the hour. It is even more important to stop human activities that degrade the environment. Developed countries should take the lead in putting mitigation measures into practice.

Timely implementation of appropriate measures will reduce the impacts of natural disasters. Otherwise, the time is not far off when we will say that once upon a time there was blue skies, green lands, breathable ambient air and clean water. Therefore, in all of our life choices, we should have climate change in mind. Climate change will not be prevented or cured by vaccines. Smart choices can help.

The writer is a final semester civil engineering student at UET, Taxila. He can be reached at [email protected]

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