2016: Putting the climate pieces together

The 25 million-year-old Great Barrier Reef of Australia that almost passed away in 2016
The 25 million-year-old Great Barrier Reef of Australia that almost passed away in 2016

By Bamidele Oni

The last days of 2015 were yet the most celebrated period in the climate change history as the world progressed positively on a clear-cut path towards a climate smart future – the Paris Climate deal was struck. This created a sort of balance in the expectations of the parties involved in the climate struggles. The year ended on a more promising note of confidence with regards to the potential outlook of events in the coming years.

Now another year is closing. Some 11 months backwards, the world ushered in a new year of optimism and strong potentials for the advancement of the global climate cause. However, the scene of events was a little quiet for the most part of the first and second quarter of the year with most countries busy tailoring their respective Intended Nationally Determined Contribution to allow for proper transitioning into a more agreeable nationally adopted strategies (in the global term could be referred to as the Nationally determined contribution, as the “Intended” part of the prior definition lost its place within the scope of been submitted and ratified).

Although to many climate activists, the majority of submitted National plans happen to be less ambitious, especially with respect to the versions submitted by most annex 1 countries (developed countries), but then, the move has been a commendable one in order to facilitate a collective progression towards the climate smart future we envisage.

By the time the call of the Climate Change Conference was made, most countries had or rather had almost completed the process of aligning their respective national priorities with the global climate objectives, at least  within the admissible context of the treaty rules which made the whole process more flexible to accommodate individual country’s capabilities and capacities. Still, not so ambitious, but in a way, we seem to be making some progress.

To the surprise of many, the Paris deal was entered into force much earlier than envisaged. The year 2020 was the expected year for the entry but like the many surprises the year 2016 churned out, the Paris deal entered into force with 55 parties ratifying the deal and which alone stands for 55% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. The early global ratification is quite a good omen for the progressive transition into the zero carbon future, even as the world clamors for climate justice and equity.

In November, just as the world was basking in the joy of the early ratification of the Paris deal, another global surprise happened; a staunch climate change denier became the president-elect of the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gas.  It became a shock to the whole world and even until now, there is still a great deal of uncertainty in the air as regards the stand of the United States on the climate deal.

Quite a number of climate-related happenings made global headlines in 2016, some appeared promising while some portrayed danger. However, the good news gave the exciting moments of hopefulness while the bad news only fueled the constant warning of the inevitable problems ahead if the world assumes the business as usual approach.

In 2016, the Solar Impulse made a successful world trip on solar power; this is quite a great achievement which should challenge the aviation and shipping industries on the need to adopt renewable energy for the sake of the future. Solar Impulse has led the way to show the obvious possibilities for a less expensive and clean source of alternative energy.

Just like the usual trend of record breaking temperature rise with successive years, 2016 has been in the record as yet the hottest year in the history of mankind and with a great deal of affirmation, in 2017, we may a further rise in the global temperature. Soon the 1.50c carbon budget may be blown away if this continues to be the case.

Another  sad news is that of the Great Barrier Reef that recorded a massive level of bleaching to an extent that a news headline carried a scary caption that read  “The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016”. Thank God, though the Great Barrier Reef is not entirely dead but the probable possibility of losing this great biological feature to global warming is so high now. That means that we could lose a reef that has been around for almost 25 million years to the humanly induced climate change.

 The arctic sea has not fared well as well, with the alarming rate of thawing, and the worst part now is the thinning of the ice which allows for easy breakaways and faster rate of melting. This is just another way of saying the world is yet to experience the worst of coastal flooding as this will increase with the rapid thawing of the arctic ice and more importantly is the potential extinction of the life forms closely attached to the availability of arctic ice.

However, the rather comforting news is the commitment of the world to ensuring a 100% adoption of renewable energy in the coming years regardless of the many threat factors to a common stand.

In Nigeria, Kudos to the Minister of Environment, who has recently been assigned a greater responsibility of becoming the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, She led the Ministry of Environment in the most transparent and effective manner that has not been witnessed in recent times. The commencement of the Ogoni cleanup program stands perhaps as the greatest achievement while not forgetting the fact that she has helped Nigeria find a seemingly lost voice at the climate talks. So certain that Nigeria will miss her in so many ways and it is hoped that whosoever replaces her will continue with her great work.

2016 has been full of surprises with many combinations of surprising and survival episodes, we can, however, be hopeful that the bits of the jigsaw puzzle of the fast winding up year will come together to give a clearer picture in the coming year.




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