Monday, September 16, 2019

Deeds Not Words

Environmentalists have expressed fears of wavering commitments among leaders to limiting climate change, pointing to such skeptics as Trump and Bolsonaro.
World leaders attending this month’s United Nations General Assembly should listen harder to scientists if they want to tackle climate change and meet global anti-poverty targets, U.N. experts warned this week. 

Shantanu Mukherjee, from the U.N.’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the presidents, prime ministers and princes coming to discuss development and global warming in New York must boost their efforts to avert global calamity.
Politicians must start “recognising the impact of science and policy and strengthening it among the people who are here so that it becomes a reliable basis for decision-making,” Mukherjee said in answer to a question from IPS. “If there is a commitment among the leaders who come here, even some of them that they will take this seriously and use it to inform their policy, which we will support with scientific evidence, that would be great.”

A report, called The Future is Now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development, which warns of deepening inequalities and irreversible damage to ecosystems. The document says that mankind can still achieve the U.N.’s so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards ending poverty and other targets, but not without boosting efforts to reduce waste, pollution and inequality. The 250-page report was drafted by an independent group of 15 scientists. The document will be at the centre of high-level talks on the SDGs on Sept 24-25.

Between 2017 and 2060, the annual global consumption of material goods is expected to climb from 89 Gigatons to 167 Gigatons, leading to more greenhouse gas emissions, mining and other resource extraction, researchers said. 

Endah Murniningtyas, a former Indonesian minister who helped write the report, said producing enough food while keeping the global rise in temperatures below a benchmark figure of 2 degrees Celsius could prove impossible.
“This is not inevitable. We have the knowledge and the means already to change and ensure that all our wellness [is maintained] even as we scale back the adverse impacts,” of climate change,” Murniningtyas told reporters.
“Focus on the policy must be enabling equitable global access for food and maximising the nutritional value of produce while at the same time minimising the climate and environmental impact of production.”

Peter Messerli, director of the Centre for Development and Environment at the Bern University in Switzerland, said leaders must start changing how we design cities, harness energy and feed growing populations.

“All these systems are currently we can say to a certain degree dysfunctional, but they hold the promise that if we address those trade-offs, that way, they will really leverage transformation,” Messerli told reporters.
But the politicians attending a U.N. climate summit on Sept 23. and other high-level talks in New York will be swamped with other hot issues, said Messerli. Bolsonaro and Trump are listed to speak at the start of the U.N.’s general debate on Sept. 24,

“We will not change the world. But we need to change their minds in this direction. Because if we change the minds, I think we can change the world,” Messerli, a co-author of the report, said

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