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Home / India News / Key year to arrest the climate crisis

Key year to arrest the climate crisis

But the United Nations climate talks in Madrid in December failed to respond to these crises. The year 2020 will be a pivotal year for climate action — it can make or break the Paris Agreement.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2020 02:53 IST
Jayashree Nandi
Jayashree Nandi
Hindustan Times
Young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has demanded a “year of action” in 2020.
Young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has demanded a “year of action” in 2020. (AP Photo)

The climate crisis reared its ugly head in 2019 with killer heatwaves in Europe, record ice loss in the Arctic and an unusual south-west monsoon season in India that killed over 1,400 people, among many other extreme events globally.

But the United Nations climate talks in Madrid in December failed to respond to these crises. The year 2020 will be a pivotal year for climate action — it can make or break the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement has a goal of keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5° Celsius. But the nationally determined contribution by 197 countries under the Paris Agreement takes us to a 2.8-3 degree warming scenario which will spell doom for people, atmospheric systems, and the ecology.

“As of December 2019, very few governments have announced updated and strengthened Paris Agreement pledges...,” said an analysis by Climate Action Tracker, a data tool developed by a group of climate non-profits. On December 12, 2015, when the world reached a consensus that 197 nations which are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will take actions and make investments needed to save the planet from dangerous climate change impacts, they also decided that they would enhance their NDCs by 2020 because they were inadequate.

In 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its fifth assessment report, had said that human influence on the climate system was clear and that greenhouse gas emissions were the highest ever in the atmosphere. These findings drove home the urgency of arriving at an agreement on limiting greenhouse gas emissions which finally led to the Paris Agreement. But the failure at Madrid in 2019 and no intention expressed by most developed countries to enhance their NDCs scuttled talks.

The little progress made in 2019 only makes 2020 more important. Countries are likely to submit revised climate plans to close the gap between the action currently being taken and the one that is urgently needed.

A range of key global environment summits are scheduled for this year that could help move on from the failure in Madrid. Young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has demanded a “year of action” in 2020.

The US has started withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and is likely to be out completely by November 4, 2020. “2020 is the year in which the world should focus on action and let action be the harbinger for ambition. Action on stated NDCs will pave the way for realistic ambition...,” said Karan Mangotra, climate finance expert at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).