SDG 13 on climate action is most critical as it threatens our human survival and life on the planet.
The last four years were the hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990. Sea levels are rising, coral reefs are bleaching and dying, glaciers are melting, and floods, hurricanes, droughts and wildfires are all taking a heavy human toll. We are starting to see the life-threatening impact of climate change on health, through air pollution, heat waves and risks to food and water security.
Besides the human suffering caused, there are disastrous consequences on infrastructure and the environment, thus disrupting entire economies. Yet, it is recognized that affordable, scalable solutions are available if we act urgently to build cleaner, more resilient communities, societies and economies.
According to the latest analysis of scientists, if we act now, we can reduce carbon emissions by 2030, even within the short span of 12 years left to reach the 2030 Goals. We can hold down the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and even, to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels of 150 years ago. As the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres warns us, 2019 is a critical year, the “last chance” for the international community to take effective action on climate change. However, it is not all despair. There is hope.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty adopted on 9 May 1992. The UNFCCC’s objective is to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” In other words, it aims to prevent “dangerous” human interference with the climate system.
Thankfully, we have the Paris Agreement – a visionary, viable, forward-looking policy framework that sets out exactly what needs to be done to stop climate disruption and reverse its impact. But the agreement itself is meaningless without daring and resolute action.
The United Nations Secretary-General will host a high level Action Summit on Climate Change from 21 to 23 September this year with all 193 Member States engaged in serious deliberations, with a road map emerging for the future. We will watch the decisions made and join the multilateral effort for the way forward.