THE World Meteorological Organisation alarmingly reports that the concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere has reached unprecedented levels, with no sign of abating. The continued rise of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide — all of which trap heat — signals a looming crisis that can no longer be ignored. The WMO has painted a dire picture, revealing that CO2 levels in 2022 were 50pc higher than pre-industrial times, and that nitrous oxide recorded the highest year-on-year increase ever. It has become so that GHG emissions are not just an environmental challenge, they also necessitate a battle for our survival, demanding immediate, concerted action on a global scale. Despite the dire situation, a glimmer of hope shines through. The EU’s reported reduction in GHG emissions by over 5pc in the second quarter of 2023 exemplifies that progress, though incremental, is possible. Policies aimed at reducing emissions can yield tangible results, without necessarily hindering economic growth. However, the challenge remains monumental. WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas’s statement encapsulates the grim reality: “We are still heading in the wrong direction.”
The threat of more extreme weather, ice melt, rising sea levels, and ocean acidification underlines the urgency for global action, not just pledges. The UN’s warning that current national climate plans are insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C further underscores the need for accelerated and more substantial actions. The upcoming COP28 is not just another conference; it must be a decisive turning point, where words translate into action. South Asia’s struggle with hazardous smog highlights the immediate impact of inaction. The region’s plight is a microcosm of the global emergency we face. The path forward is clear: we must drastically reduce fossil fuel consumption, invest in renewable energy, and implement effective climate policies. Governments, industries, and individuals must work in unison to rewrite our environmental narrative. The time for debate has passed; the time for action is now.
Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2023