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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Front line of disaster

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This week, on Thursday, world leaders and environmental experts start a 13-day summit dubbed COP28 climate conference in Dubai, the first time a pontiff will be at the meeting since the annual conferences began in Berlin in 1995.

The 86-year-old head of the Catholic Church, expected to be in Dubai from Dec. 1 to 3, is anticipated to drive home his recent appeal for action to curb global warming during the tense talks to tackle the crisis.

As he did earlier this year, Pope Francis has called for the abandonment of fossil fuels, and has acknowledged that major corporations are unlikely to change out of the goodness of their hearts.

The United Nations top climate official Simon Stiell, who will oversee the summit proceedings, himself said the world leaders must “stop dawdling and start doing” on carbon emissions cuts, as rapidly rising temperatures in 2023 have put everyone on the front line of disaster.

We agree with Stiell that no country could think itself immune from catastrophe.

Climatologists have noted that global temperatures have broken records in recent months, making 2023 the hottest on record and menacingly close to the threshold of 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels that countries have agreed to hold to.

Temperatures are now heading for a “hellish” 3 degrees C increase unless urgent and drastic action is taken while greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise.

But Stiell holds there is the possibility that greenhouse emissions could be cut, enough to stay within the crucial limit, stressing however that added delay would be dangerous.

His words: “Every year of the baby steps we’ve been taking up to this point means we need to be taking…bigger leaps with each following year if we are to stay in this race.”

COP28 indeed comes at a decisive moment for international climate action.

Temperature records are being repeatedly broken and climate impacts felt in unprecedented wildfires, floods, storms and droughts worldwide.

The UN’s global stocktake or GST, the main mechanism through which progress under the Paris Agreement is assessed, shows much more must be done to meet the goals of the landmark Paris Agreement.

The Dubai summit presents a critical opportunity to put the world on a more sustainable path.

We join experts in their hope that governments at COP28 will come up with a road map to accelerate climate action.

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