The international day of action on climate change serves as a day with different organizations building various platforms for environmental activists, lawyers, civil society, and leaders from around the world to raise awareness on climate change. The day falls on 14th October. Mass audiences are sent messages about preventive measures on reducing harm to the environment through day to day activities.
What is Climate change?
According to NASA climate change is
“a change in the typical or average weather of a region or city… in the form of changes in annual rainfall or hot weather”.
The most authoritative definition is in Article 1 of UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on climate change): “Climate change” means
“a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”.
In addition, the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlights the human activities that cause climate change.
- Greenhouse gas emissions
- Burning of fossil fuels
- Factories and industrial plants emitting harmful gases and toxic waste to waters and air
have contributed to climate change.
What are the effects of Climate Change?
The World Meteorological Organization describes the build-up of greenhouse gases in 20th century as causing global warming. The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified rise in temperature, has affected many natural systems such as:
- melting of ice caps,
- increase of acidity in ocean water,
- changes in marine and terrestrial biological systems.
NASA satellites and instruments that monitor changes in earth, water and air, attempts to understand climate change. Scientists use mathematical tools to predict that global warming will continue for the next 100 years.
Climate change also has socio-economic impacts on the most poor and vulnerable. Karfakis, Lipper and Smulders of FAO describe farming, fishing and agricultural households could be economically affected since irregularities in rainfall could harm harvests or disrupt seasonal patterns in harvesting. The poorest of such populace is both ill-equipped to face extreme weather shocks and recover in time to regain their lost livelihoods. This could result in food insecurity making women and girls more susceptible to hunger, access education and healthcare (in cases where access requires monetary assets). In extreme cases women and girls are even vulnerable to sexual bribery at the hand of public authorities.
What can we do about it?
The UNFCC urges governments around the word to reduce emissions of gases such as methane, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases. 196 countries are signatories to the UNFCC, the broader framework convention within which the Paris agreement was concluded.
The Paris agreement deals with greenhouse gas emission mitigation and adaptation. 168 parties out of the 196 countries are signatories of the Paris agreement.
As per UNFCC progress tracker October 2017, COP 22 and COP 23 presidents continue to undertake inclusive and transparent consultations on best implementing the commitments to Paris agreement. However, Donald Trump of USA is planning to withdraw from this convention to develop its domestic industries.
Very small littoral states are currently lobbying for governments to reduce gas emissions because their existence is threatened by rising sea levels. It remains important that more communities are made aware of climate change to take action and make earth sustainable resilient, and safer for the future.