Raising responsibility to the planet

Monday, 2018-10-01 17:29:44
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French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the One Planet Summit in New York. (Credit: Reuters)
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NDO – The second One Planet Summit, which was held within the framework of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the United States, has strengthened the efforts of protecting a green planet.

Embracing the responsibility of the international community, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the summit was no longer a chance to discuss but to accelerate actions.

The second edition of the One Planet Summit was chaired by Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres, French President Emmanuel Macron, President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim and UN Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael R. Bloomberg. It featured the attendance of the senior leaders from around 30 nations as well as representatives and experts from various countries and international organisations.

The massive participation of world leaders reflected the seriousness of climate change as well as showing the strong commitment of the international community to protect the Earth.

The 2018 Summit was a continuation of numerous international events related to climate change efforts. The first One Planet Summit was held in Paris, France, in late 2017 shortly after US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. It was considered as a strong reaction to Washington’s decision which worked against the joint efforts of the global community. Most recently, thousands of governors, mayors, executive directors and experts from over 100 countries participated in the Global Climate Action Summit, which took place from September 12-14 in San Francisco, the US. The recent One Planet Summit in New York was expected to be an important following step, contributing to providing ‘new vitality’ for the implementation of commitments on greenhouse gas reduction and environmental protection.

Many international summits and events have been held to curb global warming. However, in fact this goal is still at risk of deviation. At this year’s One Planet Summit, Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres warned that, if the countries did not take quick and strong actions, greenhouse gas emissions would not be reduced. As a result, the current emission trend would not be reversed by 2020 and it would not be possible to achieve the target of keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5°C by 2020, which was set in the Paris Climate Agreement.

The adoption of the Paris Agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in France in 2015 has been considered as a great success in the field of environmental protection. However, according to the UN, the impetus for the implementation of this historic document has shown signs of weakening due to many reasons, including the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement of the US, the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Australia, which has one of the highest per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in the world, has also pushed the elimination of its commitments to cutting emissions from its national energy and environmental bill. Despite being responsible for producing 80 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, the G20 countries have not yet shown their pioneering role in the fight against climate change.

Meanwhile, the 180 signatories of the Paris Agreement have so far reduced only about a third of the CO2 emissions needed to curb the global temperature rise. Developed countries have also contributed only US$10 billion to the global funds to help developing countries cope with global warming. This figure is only one-third of the total committed value of developed countries joining the Paris Agreement, which makes it difficult to achieve the target of US$100 billion per year by 2020.

The UN warned that by 2100, the serious issue of sea level rises will be depended primarily on the capacity and speed of reducing emissions from the use of fossil fuels. Therefore, the political will and concrete actions of nations, particularly developed countries and those emitting a lot of greenhouse gases are crucial. The 2018 One Planet Summit has received more commitments and initiatives to support efforts to combat climate change, especially commitments on investing and funding projects of clean energy and reducing CO2 emissions.

Taking place before the COP24 in Poland, in December, the second One Planet Summit once again underlined the international community’s responsibility for the planet and future generations. The international community should join hands to more quickly and drastically translate their commitments into actions.