The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

Everyone knows that some small island states, such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean or Tuvalu in the Pacific, face serious risks to their survival if we do not take effective action to address climate change and curb rising sea levels. At a dinner convened jointly between France and the UK in London last week, a group of representatives from a number of small island states described the severity of the threat they face. They are understandably pushing hard for all nations to do more to cut emissions and help prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

The threats facing the rest of the world are no less grave. To preserve a climate that can support a healthy, prosperous population, we must limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2 degrees Celsius.

The shape of the international climate deal set for agreement in Paris is becoming clearer. More than 150 countries have announced their commitments to reduce emissions. Many have also pledged increased finance to help the poorest and most vulnerable countries adapt to the effects of climate change.

The UK and France are leading by example. By 2030, the UK will have halved its emissions compared to 1990 and is on track to meet the target, set out in law, of an 80% reduction by 2050. France will cut its emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, compared to 1990, and the new Energy Transition Act provides mechanisms to finance renewable energies.

We are also committed to supporting developing countries to strengthen their resilience and manage the risks of a changing climate. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently announced that the UK will provide 5.8 billion pounds between April 2016 and March 2021. At the same time, President Francois Hollande announced that France will increase its annual funding to fight climate change from a current 3 billion euro commitment to 5 billion euros by 2020.

Nevertheless, as the representatives from small island states made clear, the sum of all commitments to reduce emissions is not yet enough to ensure their sustainable future.

We should see these commitments as a baseline. We can do at least this much. These commitments take us 15 years into the future, and so reflect a huge range of economic, social, and technological uncertainty. The future can be promising. And the Paris COP21 needs to build even greater ambition.

A change in direction is already visible. Evidence released by PWC shows that the global economy grew by 3.3 per cent in 2014, while emissions only grew by 0.5 per cent. This suggests that economic growth is increasingly decoupled from greenhouse gas emissions.

And the pace of change is increasing. Thirty-seven countries have now put a price on carbon. China will join them in another two years’ time. The world is now adding more renewable energy capacity than coal, natural gas and oil combined. The cost of solar cells has fallen by around 80% since 2008 and more investment is being ploughed into clean energy technologies all the time.

China added 9.9GW of new solar electricity capacity in the first 3 quarters of 2015 alone — equivalent to more than a tenth of the UK’s entire domestic power generation. Many small island states have also adopted ambitious renewable energy targets in the past year.

This transition has economic benefits beyond reducing climate risks. For example, the low carbon economy and its supply chain now employ around half a million people in both the UK and France. In the case of the UK, this sector contributes more to GDP than the automotive industry.   These opportunities will only become clearer over time, and the incentives to take advantage of them will be greater.

The threat facing us all is very real, even if it is not as apparent to all of us as it is to the inhabitants of the small island states. There is a role for everyone in confronting it.

The Paris conference must be a watershed moment, leading us into an era of green economic development and opportunity. We are confident we will find an effective response — through human ingenuity, innovation and determination — to the greatest challenge our civilisation has ever faced.

By The Rt Hon Baroness Anelay of St Johns DBE, and Ms Annick Girardin

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

One reply on “Climate change actions: we can do at least this much”

  1. I always have to reply when I read these article written by very stupid or corrupt people. We all need to realize that there IS CLIMATE CHANGE, but it is not anything like what this author is telling you. It is good that many countries are taking action to cut pollution levels. Pollution is a big problem, CO2 is not. CO2 has been around for millions of years. CO2 levels were much higher in the past. CO2 is not pollution and the sea levels are not rising. I remember when I was 12 years old hearing that Venice would be under water before the year 2000. Al Gore said that 8 major cities would be under water by the year 2014. The Carbon Nazis said that there would be no more snow and ice by the year 2015 and it would be possible to sail a ship across the N Pole! All of this has turned out to be the opposite. The Polar Ice mass is the largest in recorded history. I could continue writing but I would need to write 100 pages of all the lies and falsehoods of the Global Warming Carbon Nazis.

    Guess what? The majority of the funding for the Global Warming Agenda comes from those US and British firms that own the oil companies. Gee, I wonder why?….Can you say Carbon Credits?
    When the Agenda is fully implemented countries like SVG will quickly become so impoverished that lawyers won’t be able to afford shoes and the USA will be able to pollute to their heart’s content… is that what we want? DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH! Start by going to: whatreallyhappened.com I promise that Mike Rivero will open your eyes to many other things besides!

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