Kumarakom: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Synthesis Report, released 10 days ago, is an eye-opener for all nations, and the commitments agreed to by countries are not enough to address the issue of global warming, according to a senior UN official.
Ovais Sarmad, an India-born official who is currently serving as the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said the next COP in Dubai is going to be "very critical" for the planet and expressed hope that the nations would use the opportunity to do "course correction." In an interview with PTI on the sidelines of the G20 Sherpa meeting currently underway at this scenic lakeside Kerala village, the UNFCCC deputy head warned that climate change knows no geographical limitations and urged the nations to do their part to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
The report, released on March 10, has warned that around 3.3-3.6 billion people are highly vulnerable to climate change, and they are 15 times more likely to die from floods, droughts, and storms.
"The recent IPCC report is an eye-opener. We knew about it: we are not on a good trajectory in terms of global warming. That is exactly what the IPCC has conveyed, and what they (nations) need to do is basically very simple. In simple terms, they may stop greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors," Sarmad said.
Asked whether the commitments agreed to by the nations were enough to deal with the challenge, he said they were "absolutely not enough," and that is exactly what the IPCC conveys.
The countries' commitments are not enough to limit the rise in global temperatures, the UN official said.
He said the UNFCCC is working with all countries to ensure that they are more ambitious in addressing the impact of climate change and setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
To a query on the threat that seawater level rise poses for the most populated countries like India, the UN official said, "We need to ensure that there is adaptation and resilience for those communities who are living in the low-lying areas." With the rise in seawater level, which the report has documented as 3.7 mm per year between 2006 and 2018, compared to the 1.9 mm per year between 1971 and 2006, countries like India are facing a huge challenge.
Sarmad said early warning systems are another very important tool to provide them with the necessary support.
He also said the vulnerable island nations should adapt and become more resilient to deal with the situation.
"The next UNFCCC is absolutely very critical. This year, COP 28 in Dubai will provide a turning point, and it will make sure that we do a course correction. What we know now from the IPCC report and all the disasters we are seeing around the world, we need to course correct, and that is the opportunity COP 28 will provide," he said.
Noting that climate change knows no borders and has no geographical limitations, the UN official said India, like any other country, has to do its part.
India should be more ambitious on both sides--limiting greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time ensuring the development happens in a responsible and credible manner.
Asked whether he was satisfied with the G20's response to climate change, Sarmad, who participated in side events organised on Thursday as part of the second Sherpa meeting, said this was the first meeting he participated in and, "What they have conveyed and what they are trying to do is definitely the right thing, and we are very much supportive of that." "And we have to see the summit which will happen later this year to find out what commitments the G20 leaders will make and then how these commitments are translated into actions," he added.