Yet to be born University Students Will Certainly blame Inaction by Present University Students

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Yet to be born University Students Will Certainly blame Inaction by Present University Students

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The world is shaken by the Pandemic. The window of opportunity for carbon-emission reduction is also closing fast signalling a ‘Red Alert’ on Climate emergencies. Once closed, humanity would be trapped in the planet engulfed with carbon and other GHGs (Global Warming Gases) emissions.

As we brace ourselves for COP26 dialogues in the Scottish city of Glasgow, which started on Sunday 31st October 2021, “net-zero” commitments are seen abounding. “Without decisive action, we are gambling away our last chance to – literally – turn the tide”, UN Secretary-General has said ahead of the Glasgow meeting.

Let us get it straight. In 1992, the UN organised a major event in Rio de Janeiro called the Earth Summit, in which the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted along with popularly called ‘Agenda 21’, that signalled how the world should march on the path of sustainable development which is defined as ‘meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their needs.’ UNFCCC and Agenda 21 has conceptual links that are no stranger than ever.

Climate history and its future is not ups and downs. It is down and downs. UNFCCC is signed and ratified by all 197 countries in the world. Its goal was/is to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere” to prevent dangerous interference from human activity on the climate system. If we do not stabilize emissions, then the ability of future generations to stabilise them would be at risk. 

Entered into force in 1994, UNFCCC is holding COP or Conference of Parties almost every year since then. Almost every country on earth is attending COPs. After solid 28 years and 26 global climate conferences intended stabilization, is not achieved. The world, therefore, failed to address climate challenges and did not achieve sustainable development.

Various “extensions” to the UNFCCC treaty have been negotiated during these COPs to establish legally binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and to define an enforcement mechanism.

These include the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, which defined emission limits for developed nations to be achieved by 2012; and the Paris Climate Agreement adopted in 2015, in which all countries of the world agreed to step up efforts to try and limit global warming to 1.5 deg C and definitely not 2 deg C above pre-industrial temperatures, and boost climate action financing to developing countries.

In Glasgow’s COP26, delegates will be aiming to finalise the ‘Paris Rulebook’, or the rules needed to implement the Agreement. This time they will need to agree on common time-frames for the frequency of revision and monitoring of their climate commitments. Glasgow is the last chance to limit global warming to reality by end of the 21st Century by finalising the Rule Book.

Like the slow death caused by forcible drowning, climate change has gone from being uncomfortable but relatively easy to a life-threatening global emergency, in the past three decades.

Indeed, there have been new and updated commitments made by countries ahead of COP26 including ambitious commitments of carbon neutrality by 2050-2060 by the large emitters the world remains on track for a dangerous global temperature rise of 2.7 deg C as per the latest Emission Gap report released recently.

The science is clear: a rise of temperatures of that magnitude by the end of the century could mean, among other things, a 62% increase in areas scorched by wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere during summer, the loss of habitat of a third of the mammals in the world, nearly 1 billion migration of climate refugees by 2050 and more frequent four to 10 month-long droughts.

UN chief António Guterres bluntly calls it “climate catastrophe”, which is not waiting to happen but is already visible in most vulnerable parts of the world like Sub-Saharan Africa and the Small Island States, lashed by rising sea levels.

The clock is ticking. The rays of hope come from the window that is still cracked open in University campuses that are breeding grounds for today’s youth. No youth likes ‘zero’ in their academic performance. But they are taking pledge that nothing more than net-zero would be allowed in their campus and in their future as stipulated by IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) as last resort.

Under TERRE Policy Centre’s global network of Universities, Smart Campus Cloud Network-SCCN in short, 210 Higher Educational Institutes mainly in India have taken a pledge of ‘Not Zero-Net Zero’. The pledge requires the faculty and students to drive the transformation to ‘net zero’ and create ownership of the fresh students that enter the campus every year.This is the only way to ensure that the next generation of the youth has the ability to meet their needs as being met by present generation youth.

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