Climate change: World walks blindfolded


Photo Credit Twitter @UNCCD

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By S Jha

New Delhi, June 15: The ongoing ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva has sought to bring the issue of the climate change to the centre stage of the global trade negotiations. That is outside the domain of the WTO, yet there’s emergency given that the climate change is now topmost disruptor besides the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The WTO has not much of legitimacy given its steadfast protection of the intellectual property rights of the developed countries even in times of unprecedented humanitarian crisis as was seen with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yet, the climate change, already being deliberated and acted upon at the multilateral forums, has acquired alarming proportions.

In India, the climate change impact has immediately been seen amid the unprecedented heat away in the northern parts of the country along with the consequent water crisis in a number of states, including the national capital.

The production of wheat is the immediate casualty of the climate change, with global output dipping this year, which is further made wore by destruction and disruption of the crops and trade from Russia and Ukraine due to the two counties being at war.

In India, the estimates of the impact on wheat output, daily staple food of a huge population, varies, from 9 to 15 per cent. Pakistan, a largely wheat consuming nation, has seen more than 20 per cent dip in the production of wheat.

Drought and water shortages are also the immediate consequences of climate change with increasing desertification worldwide.

Spain, one of the European countries most vulnerable to drought and water shortages linked to climate change, is hosting this year’s global observance of Desertification and Drought Day on June 17, with the theme being taken up is ‘Rising up from drought together’.

The Government of Spain and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) are hosting the brainstorming session.

Droughts, incidentally, are increasing in frequency and severity, up 29 percent since 2000 and affecting an estimated 55 million people every year, according to the latest report from UNCCD.

“By 2050, drylands may cover between 50 to 60 percent of all land, with an estimated three-quarters of the world’s population living in these areas under conditions of severe water scarcity,” UNCCD has noted in its report.

It further claims that “the Horn of Africa is in its fourth year of drought. A similar drought in Southern Africa five years ago put 20 million people on the verge of starvation. This year Chile marked a record-breaking 13th year of drought. A prolonged drought in the United States that started in 2000 is the country’s driest period in over 1200 years.”

A report released in May 2022 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has stated that the past seven years have been the warmest on record, and drought affected many parts of the world, including the Horn of Africa, Canada, the western United States, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey

Indeed, drought resilience has become a top agenda at multilateral summits on climate change.

The Working Group reports released earlier this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that we have up to 2030 to take actions to get on track to staying within a temperature rise of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Warming above that level would have catastrophic impacts on both people and the planet.

But the fact that the developed countries don’t let go their profiteering mindset is indeed the major stumbling block in the collective response to the climate change, which poses grave existential challenges to the island nations.


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