The Earth doesn’t need us...

opinion December 10, 2018 01:00

By The Jakarta Post
Asia News Network

The ongoing COP24 summit in Katowice, Poland, comes at a critical point in the battle to rein in the effects of climate change as our planet warms. COP24 is undoubtedly the most important summit since the Paris conference in 2015.



Just three years after the landmark climate treaty was endorsed in Paris, scientists warned that human-made emissions were growing while political progress in managing the growing catastrophe was slowing. The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that global warming could reach 1.5 degrees Celsius as soon as 2030 – with inevitable and devastating impacts. At the current rate of just 1 degree of warming, the planet is already afflicted with raging forest fires, floods and extreme storms. 

Deeper cuts in the CO2 emissions that are heating greenhouse Earth are imperative. The United Nations Environment Programme has found that the voluntary national contributions agreed at the Paris summit will have to be tripled if the world is to cap global warming at well below 2 degrees. A fivefold increase is necessary to reach the safer cap of 1.5 degrees.

It is amid this grim reality that delegates from more than 190 countries have gathered at COP24, including some 450 from Indonesia, to ensure that the talks produce at least a rulebook to make good on the promises they made in 2015. The rulebook would be an implementation guideline for all 183 countries that have ratified the Paris treaty, including Indonesia, and would provide clarity on how to implement the treaty fairly and transparently. 

The new rules are critical to implementing climate actions in line with the Paris treaty’s targets and goals, from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to adapting to impacts of climate change, to providing financial and other assistance to poor and developing countries. The treaty is scheduled to enter into force in 2020.

As the world races against time, COP24 is the only platform to deal with the thorniest of issues that constantly plague climate talks – the money and the blame games – and smoothen rough edges so all countries work as one in tackling threats against our only home.

For its part, Indonesia should take blame for putting the global emissions reduction target in jeopardy. While setting its own target at an ambitious 29 per cent, the country is expanding national palm oil production at the expense of its forests. It also plans to build 100 coal-fired power plants and is promoting the primary use of fossil fuel vehicles in its infrastructure development to increase fuel consumption, when coal and oil are among the greatest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Indonesia has a crucial role in the global effort to fight climate change, as it is among the biggest contributors of carbon emissions. 

As the scientists have noted, climate change is moving faster than forecast and we need to catch up now — or it really will be too late. To quote Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space: “The Earth doesn’t need us. We need the Earth.”