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Climate Overshoot and UN COP28

Columns 2023-09-21, 12:34am


Tanzila Rahman, UAO, Ramu2

Tanzila Rahman and Prof. M Zahidul Haque

In the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) held in Paris, France on 12 December, 2015, delegates from 195 countries agreed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, emission of greenhouse gas to decline to 43 percent by 2030. This is known as Paris Climate Agreement which came into force in November 2016. But the scientists are contemplating a possibility of ‘Climate Overshoot’ exceeding the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal rising the temperature to ‘danger zone’ and then returning to the safe levels. This temperature rise and subsequent cooling of temperatures is known as ‘Climate overshoot’. The UN’s World Meteorological Organization stated in a recent report that there is a “50-50 chance of global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold in the next five years”. However, a limited and temporary climate overshoots better than reaching a peak temperature and stucking there. Some impacts of climate overshoot are irreversible and can push the ecosystem to a dangerous tipping point. As per available scientific knowhow and technologies, the temperature so increased due to climate overshoot could be brought down applying some modern scientific techniques, rather than reaching to a peak temperature and staying there.

Prof. M Zahidul Haque

The consequences of a Climate Overshoot are not fully known; some impacts of climate change include-sea level rise, loss of ecosystems functionality,

increased risk of species extinction plus glacier and permafrost loss. These impacts cannot be reversed easily. In reality, minimizing climate overshoot is important, the ways may be:-

--cutting emissions and phasing out fossil fuels

--Adapting to climate change

--Pulling Carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and the ocean

--Deflecting the Sun’s rays via solar radiation management

Meanwhile, the 28 th United Nation’s Conference of the Parties (COP28) or UN Climate Change Conference is scheduled to be held from November 30 until December 12, 2023 in the Expo City of Dubai.

The World is working to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). The COP28 focuses on fast-tracking out global transition to clean energy, decarbonize the energy industry. Health/ Relief, Recovery and Peace have also been added to the theme of COP28. These new COP’s theme aims to boost policies and investment that protects lives and livelihoods and supports community resilience and stability.

In order to combat climate change—Geo-engineering or Climate Engineering approaches are employed which include solar radiation management, carbon dioxide removal, weather modification, etc. to slowing down and reverse global warming and to prevent further climate change.

Although some risks and adverse effects are involved with using Solar Radiation Management (SRM) - a geo-engineering technology, it’s still a modern method. By pumping aerosols into the high atmosphere could block the Sun’s warming effect to relieve the world from extreme heat.

Ocean fertilization is another geo-engineering method to reducing both ocean acidification and global warming. Too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes ocean acidification when carbon dioxide dissolves into the ocean making carbonic acid. Ocean fertilization involves phytoplankton which converts carbon dioxide into oxygen through photosynthesis.

To minimize the climate change and global warming adverse impacts on our life and environment, individual and collective actions to reducing carbon footprint are needed. A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouses gasses including carbon dioxide and methane that are generated by our activities at personal footprint, corporate footprint and national footprint. It may be mentioned here that an individual in the United States contributes 16 tons of carbon foot print. In order to reducing individual footprint, one needs to go for:

--using less electricity generated from fossil fuels through installing solar panels

on the roof

--using energy efficient appliances

--using reusable drinking water container

--scientific waste management

--proper agriculture and food management avoiding elements as much as

possible which are responsible for increasing carbon footprint, e.g. fertilizer, transportation, etc.

Considering the present status of Climate Change, the COP28 is of paramount importance to finding out more scientific and efficient ways and means to combat climate change and to reducing global warming.

(Tanzila Rahman (BCS-Agri) is Upazila Agriculture Officer, Ramu, Cox’s Bazar and Prof. M Zahidul Haque recently retired as Professor and was also a former Dean of Faculty of Agriculture at Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Dhaka)