The Jakarta Post
The COP24 summit in Katowice, Poland, comes at a critical point in the battle to rein in the effects of climate change on our warming planet. In fact, 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 catastrophe was slowing. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that global warming could reach 1.5 degrees Celsius as soon as 2030 — surely with devastating impacts. At just 1 degree of current warming, our Earth has already been afflicted with raging forest fires, floods and extreme storms as a result of rising sea levels.
Deeper cuts are then imperative. The United Nations Environment Program has found that the voluntary national contributions agreed at the Paris summit would have to be tripled if the world was to cap global warming well below 2 degrees; a fivefold increase was necessary to reach the safer cap of 1.5 degrees.
It is in this grim reality that delegates from more than 190 countries have gathered at COP24, including some 450 delegates 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.
This rulebook would be critical to implementing climate actions in line with the Paris treaty’s targets and goals, from reducing greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate warming to adapting to the impacts of climate change and to providing financial and other assistance to poor and developing countries. The treaty is to enter into force in 2020.
As the world races against time, COP24 is the perfect platform to deal with the thorniest of issues that constantly plague climate talks — the money and blame games — and smoothen rough edges so all countries work as one in tackling threats against our one 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 percent, 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 (GHG) emissions.
Indonesia has a crucial role in the global effort to fight climate change, as it is among the greatest contributors of carbon emissions in the world.
As the scientists have said, 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.”