By Ayya Lmahamad
Climate change, together with the decline in biodiversity, is the greatest challenge facing humanity requiring urgent action to address the problem.
Right now, rising average temperatures are having a profound effect on the climate, and these effects will become even more significant over the years.
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns that can occur over decades to millions of years. It can be a change in normal weather patterns, such as a change in the dates of the tropical rainy season, or a change in the frequency of extreme weather phenomena such as floods, droughts, and storms.
Numerous studies have shown an increase in average global temperatures since the mid-1900s. This process is commonly referred to as global warming and is attributed to human activity, particularly CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
In the last century, human activities have resulted in the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, thus increasing the natural greenhouse effect.
Most of these gases arise from the construction of facilities for the extraction and combustion of minerals, energy use, emissions from road and air transport, and agriculture. The largest proportion of all greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide (CO2), and it is this gas that is mainly responsible for global warming.
The loss of forested and wetland areas that could store CO2 also exacerbates the warming effect. Approximately 80,000 acres of rainforest are cut down every day, mostly for the forestry industry or for agriculture.
Consequences of climate change
It is clear that climate change is changing the economy, health, and communities in a variety of ways.
Some scientific consequences of climate change include the rising water levels in the seas and oceans due to the temperature increase and melting glaciers. Nearly two-thirds of the world's cities of more than 5 million people are located in areas at risk of rising sea levels, and nearly 40 percent of the world's population lives less than 100 kilometers from the coast.
It can also lead to increased intensity and frequency of abnormal weather phenomena, such as hurricanes, floods, droughts and storms. Currently, 90 percent of natural catastrophes are classified as weather and climate-related.
Moreover, climate change can lead to desertification of territories and reduction of crop yields due to depletion of water reserves.
There is a threat to long-term crop planning and food supplies in general due to less reliable and unpredictable shifts in seasons, and reduced fishing catch due to increased acidity in the world’s oceans.
Today, nearly 500 million people live in areas prone to soil erosion, and up to 30 percent of food is lost or wasted.
In the end, climate change will lead to the loss of valuable habitats, biodiversity and important ecosystems due to a lack of adaptability to rapidly changing environmental conditions.
As for the whole world, for Azerbaijan, climate change has potential impacts on human health and living conditions and on the economy as a whole.
Azerbaijan’s geographical characteristics make it a highly sensitive country to the adverse consequences of climate change.
According to the EU4Climate, Azerbaijan contributes only 0.15 percent of the total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. Energy and agriculture are two sectors with the largest GHG emission shares, with 75 and 14 percent, respectively.
As part of its contribution to the global fight against climate change, Azerbaijan has signed and ratified the Paris Climate Agreement.
It should be noted that the Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change that entered into force in November 2016. The goal of the treaty is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. To achieve this long-term temperature goal, countries aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.
In its first Nationally Determined Contribution, Azerbaijan has submitted a commitment to achieve a quantitative target of a 35 percent GHG emissions reduction by 2030 compared to 1990. The country has outlined climate change mitigation actions in its energy, oil and gas, residential and commercial, transport, agriculture, and waste sectors.
The primary actions include entailing technological improvements to reduce the negative environmental impact of various economic sectors, together with some regulatory changes.
Moreover, Azerbaijan identified achieving a clean environment and becoming a “green growth” country as one of the national priorities for the country’s socio-economic development by 2030. Implementation of this priority deems it necessary to develop the renewable energy sector, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the use of green technologies.
Work is underway and cooperation with foreign investors has already begun to this end. For instance, Azerbaijan signed agreements with Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power and the United Arab Emirates’ Masdar companies to develop the country’s renewable capacity.
Lockdown gave break to planet
Currently, the world is coming back to life after more than a year-long lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Along with the economy, greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly returning to pre-crisis heights.
This is bad news for a planet that hasn't stopped heating up, despite that break due to COVID-19, stopped factories, empty roads and plane-free skies.
Lockdown gave the planet a break but didn't stop climate change.
What to do?
There are some things that all people can do on a daily basis that will help in the fight against global warming.
The first simple step is to switch to green energy. Using clean energy in houses and businesses plays an important role in combating climate change. Increase energy efficiency as much as possible. Avoid disposable materials and choose materials that can be reused. Use public transportation, car sharing or biking if possible. Think about how your clothes were made and give preference to brands that pay attention to sustainability.
Fighting climate change was thought to be costly, which might explain people's reluctance to act. However, these costs are nothing compared to the economic consequences of global warming.
As United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said once - the climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we still can win.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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