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A global network known as the People’s Climate March launched a number of demonstrations in Australia and New Zealand today.
Hours later, thousands marched in unison in Tokyo and Dhaka, Bangladesh, to name a few.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators there called on their governments as well as world leaders to quickly work toward a worldwide legally binding climate treaty which imposes rapid and drastic curbing of carbon emissions and deforestation, among other environmental challenges.
There is an urgency to the Paris conferences because previous such meetings have failed to achieve global consensus – and time is running out.
The planet we call home is growing less and less healthy thanks to rapid industrialization, rising global temperatures, pollution, overfishing, decline in freshwater, infiltration of chemicals into agricultural land, carbon emissions and “loss of biosphere integrity” and human consumption.
Earlier in the year, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre were among a group of organizations which released data that 2014 was the hottest year on record – since temperatures were registered in the 1880s.
The burning of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions are significant contributing factors in how quickly, and drastically, the planet is warming up.
NASA scientists say that the majority of the global warming in temperatures has occurred in the past three decades.
The United Nations has warned that global temperatures will rise by at least 2 degrees Celsius within the next 80 years.
This will have a devastating effect on the way of life for billions of people around the world because even a 1.5 Celsius rise is likely to wipe out many ecosystems and hundreds of inhabited islands.
Do more, do now
The UN has repeatedly called on industrialized nations, emerging economies and developing countries to move toward a global climate change agreement that sufficiently reduces carbon emissions to offset any increase.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a report in November last year that carbon emissions will reach 59 billion tonnes by 2020 – 25 billion tonnes above the threshold for a 2C global rise in temperature.
And then there are national economic interests which appear to outweigh the need to protect the environment.
Developing nations, which see a growing demand for energy and fuel, are unable to comply with carbon emissions curbs.
The Philippines, for example, says it will begin building 25 coal plants to meet energy demands as its population and economy grows.
Earlier this year, a G7 environment meeting failed to reach consensus on ways to end subsidies given to coal exports when Japan said it need more time.
For the past four years, Japan has had to rely on coal as an alternative fuel source following its suspension of nuclear energy programs in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima plant disaster.
Two years ago, Poland, the host country for COP19, as well as some other European countries like Germany held that recent EU efforts to change formerly agreed reduction targets are overambitious, particularly when it comes to automotive emissions.
Poland, which generates most of its electricity from coal and is considered one of the continent’s worst polluters, has refused to comply with European emission quotas.
A year ago, EU leaders agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030.
While this may appear to be a step in the right direction, it means the Earth could be warmed by as much as 3 degrees Celsius – much higher than the current threshold to avoid catastrophic climate change as predicted by scientists.
Still, Poland has refused to comply.
Last week, its Environment Minister Jan Szyszko said the proposed cuts do not work in favor of Poland’s interests and that he would use the Paris conference to argue that Warsaw is under no obligation to sign a global climate treaty.
By Firas Al-Atraqchi for The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies