Paul Marouzé

Today’s Environmental & Social challenges are intrinsically linked

Following the signature of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, the 196 signatory countries are in Bonn, Germany, attending the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference presided by the Fiji Islands, one of the smallest countries of the Pacific.

Fiji is issuing a warning on the urgency of climate change and has the objective of bringing concrete goals against global warming from this accord. The Paris Climate Agreement has been ratified by 168 countries, including the 28 member states of the European Union. The countries having ratified this accord represent cumulatively 84% of global emissions. According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), we are heading towards a trajectory where global warming will lead us 3°C above pre-industrial times if signatory countries do not respect their climate goals. The Paris Climate Agreement sets a goal of limiting global warming to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial times, and ideally to 1.5°C.

Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, presiding at the Bonn talks, has declared that “The human suffering caused by intensifying hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, floods and threats to food security caused by climate change means there is no time to waste.”

During this week, delegates are working to apply the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement, with one of the primary goals being ending the use of fossil fuels for energy production in the 21st century and switching to clean, renewable energies, such as wind and solar power. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), coal power still represents a third of today’s global energy production.

The latest report by the NGO Oxfam, ‘Uprooted by climate change: responding to the growing risk of displacement’, analyses how of low income individuals are on average five times more likely to be displaced due to natural disasters caused by climate change than high income populations. The report estimates that 14 million individuals in the world’s poorest countries have been displaced, compared to 1 million in developed countries,. Extreme inequality towards climate change affects the most deprived and powerless populations, who are rarely the biggest polluters. Low income individuals, especially women, children and indigenous people are often the most vulnerable to natural disasters. The recent hurricanes in the Caribbean and in the United States have reminded us the extent to which these extreme natural events, amplified by global warming, have such destructive powers.

Despite these observations, this COP23 will be complicated as the newly elected President of the United States, Donald Trump, declared in June this year, his willingness to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. The American president wishes to revive domestic coal and shale oil production. However, the United States’ formal pull out of this accord, which President Obama made sure to ratify before the end of his mandate, will not be effective before November 2020, which is at the time of the next US presidential elections. In addition, the American delegacy in Bonn will be represented by Thomas Shannon, a diplomat who declared that climate change is “one of the world’s most important challenges”.Phitrust is following the discussions taking place at the COP23. Indeed, in our minds, we consider that it is possible to finance innovative projects that are able to reduce pollution, and decarbonize the economy, while also sustaining vulnerable communities by creating jobs, developing skills and training, and rehabilitating individuals that have been excluded by society because of long-term unemployment or personal difficulties. Within the European Union, we can reduce our impact on climate change by investing in those companies that are committed to reducing their negative effect on the environment. Tackling climate change offers an opportunity to create sustainable long-term jobs which will contribute to making our planet a better place in a nearby future. It is therefore necessary to develop tomorrow’s solutions to offer a better world for future generations.

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