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International Instrument for Tackle Climate Change and Sustainable Development

The impact of climate change are being felt today by every country, as the catastrophic climate events are already affecting hundreds of millions of our fellow human beings. Severe increase in droughts, melting glaciers and rising sea levels are increasing food insecurity, exacerbating diseases are disrupting lives and livelihoods and forcibly displacing people and entire community. Urgent action on climate change must therefore be seen as a moral, environmental, scientific, and developmental imperative, guided by ambition, action and equity. In this regard the Paris Convention adopted by 195 countries in the year 2015 enhances our ambition of nationally determined contributions without delay and achieving these ends. Raised ambition and scaled up mitigation action are the need of the hour.

The states must pursue collectively and in accordance with the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
Increasing the use of low-carbon energy sources in the global energy mix is vital, including through renewable such as wind and solar energy, whose costs continue to decline. Governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other partners are increasingly investing in smart and viable climate solutions that will achieve transformation to a resilient and low emissions global economy.

However, these investments must be scaled up.Indeed, climate action is a profound catalyst for the creation of jobs and improving livelihoods across our world. New and reinvigorated partnerships will be critical to achieving this transformation. While the Paris Agreement is a turning point for international cooperation to achieve global transformation on climate change, it is also central to our broader goals under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Achieving the universal and transformative 2030 Agenda promises to deliver on the future we want by eliminating extreme poverty; building peaceful and inclusive societies; empowering women and girls; increasing prosperity, and combating climate change. The Current estimates indicate that implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 Agenda will require annual financial flows of US$ 5-7 trillion. Thus there is an urgent need for global action on both climate change and sustainable development, the very objective of UN Gen assembly to be achieved by the end.

Climate change has long-since ceased to be a scientific curiosity, and is no longer just one of many environmental and regulatory concerns. As the United Nations Secretary General has said, it is the major, overriding environmental issue of our time, and the single greatest challenge facing environmental regulators. It is a growing crisis with economic, health and safety, food production, security, and other dimensions.Shifting weather patterns, for example, threaten food production through increased unpredictability of precipitation, rising sea levels contaminate coastal freshwater reserves and increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, and a warming atmosphere aids the pole-ward spread of pests and diseases once limited to the tropics.

The news to date is bad and getting worse. Ice-loss from glaciers and ice sheets has continued, leading, for example, to the second straight year with an ice-free passage through Canada’s Arctic islands, and accelerating rates of ice-loss from ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. Combined with thermal expansion—warm water occupies more volume than cold—the melting of ice sheets and glaciers around the world is contributing to rates and an ultimate extent of sea-level rise that could far outstrip those anticipated in the most recent global scientific assessment.

There is alarming evidence that important tipping points, leading to irreversible changes in major ecosystems and the planetary climate system, may already have been reached or passed. Ecosystems as diverse as the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic tundra, for example, may be approaching thresholds of dramatic change through warming and drying. Mountain glaciers are in alarming retreat and the downstream effects of reduced water supply in the driest months will have repercussions that transcend generations. Climate feedback systems and environmental cumulative effects are building across Earth systems demonstrating behaviours we cannot anticipate. Climate change and US.

Some climate and weather changes already observed in the United States include:U.S. average temperature has increased by 1.3°F to 1.9°F since recordkeeping began in 1895; most of this increase has occurred since about 1970. The first decade of the 2000s (2000–2009) was the warmest on record throughout the United States.Average U.S. precipitation has increased since 1900, but some areas have experienced increases greater than the national average, and some areas have experienced decreases.

Climate change and human health

The influences of weather and climate on human health are significant and varied. They range from the clear threats of temperature extremes and severe storms to connections that may seem less obvious. For example, weather and climate affect the survival, distribution, and behavior of mosquitoes, ticks, and rodents that carry diseases like West Nile virus or Lyme disease. Climate and weather can also affect water and food quality in particular areas, with implications for human health. In addition, the effects of global climate change on mental health and well-being are integral parts of the overall climate-related human health impact.[1]

First Issue

Climate Change

Causes Of Climate Change

Many scientists agree that climate change is due to the over-abundance of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere. The three most destructive GHGs are carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and methane. Industrialization, the increased burning of fossil fuels, and controversial practices of obtaining oil have tipped the natural balance in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide (CO2). As the concentration of CO2 rises, more heat from the sun is being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere causing an increase in global temperatures, a cycle know as the Greenhouse Effect.

Climate change is defined as the increase in Earth’s temperature due to human activity by way of greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that scientists expect to see a number of other possible changes that could potentially be disastrous to the planet; these changes vary from region to region.

In Africa, for example, increased water stress will decrease agricultural productivity. Floods, heat waves, and an increase of malaria will cause a higher death rate. North America can expect to see decreased snow pack in the mountains and an increase in the duration and intensity of heat waves. These heat waves would be even more intense in cities that already experience heat waves.

Sources Of Climate Change

The Greenhouse Effect

Human activity is causing the global climate change. More than 100 years ago, people started burning large amounts of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) to power their homes, factories, and vehicles. Around the world, people continue to burn more and more fossil fuels to meet modern energy needs. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, along with other greenhouse gasses, stays in the Earth’s atmosphere and warms the planet. Earth needs these to help keep it warm enough for plants and animals to live. However, humans are releasing more gases than ever before, which is casing climate change.

The gases in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases, and they trap heat to make the Earth warmer. This process is known as the greenhouse effect. The Earth’s atmosphere naturally contains certain chemicals that trap heat from the sun. This trapped heat is what helps warm the planet. Human activity is also contributing to the greenhouse effect by adding more chemicals to the atmosphere.

These chemicals are causing the planet to warm more than it would on its own. People are adding and increasing several types of greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, among others.

These gases are primarily released by burning fossil fuels for energy but gases are also released from farms (raising livestock and fertilizing soil), landfills (as trash breaks down over time, methane is released), leaking coolants (from air conditioners and refrigerators), cutting down and burning trees, and some factory methods. People produce more carbon dioxide than any other gas, and it is responsible for most of the warming. Once in the air, these gases move around the world. This means that the concentration of gases is about the same throughout the world. Some countries produce more greenhouse gases than others, but all are equally affected.

Climate change is an international problem because the climate is a resource that all nations share and the effects of climate change reach everyone. Immediate attention is required to stop our high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

Effects Of Climate Change On The Environment

  1. Desertification
  2. Sea Level Rising
  3. Natural Disasters
  4. Global warming

Second Issue

Ozone Layer Depletion

Ozone depletion describes two distinct but related phenomena observed since the late 1970s: a steady decline of about four percent in the total amount of ozone in Earth's stratosphere (the ozone layer), and a much larger springtime decrease in stratospheric ozone around Earth's polar regions. The latter phenomenon is referred to as the ozone hole.

CFCs and other contributory substances are referred to as ozone-depleting substances (ODS). Since the ozone layer prevents most harmful UVB wavelengths (280–315 nm) of ultraviolet light (UV light) from passing through the Earth's atmosphere, observed and projected decreases in ozone generated worldwide concern, leading to adoption of the Montreal Protocol that bans the production of CFCs, halons, and other ozone-depleting chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride and trichloroethane.

It is suspected that a variety of biological consequences such as increases in sunburn, skin cancer, cataracts, damage to plants, and reduction of plankton populations in the ocean's photic zone may result from the increased UV exposure due to ozone depletion.

Consequences of Ozone Layer Depletion
  1. Increased UV
  2. Biological effects
a) Basal and squamous cell carcinomas
b) Malignant melanoma
c) Cortical cataracts
d) Increased tropospheric ozone
e) Increased production of vitamin D
f) Effects on non-human animals
g) Effects on crops

Third Issue

Green House Gas And Effects

The greenhouse effect is the process by which radiation from a planet's atmosphere warms the planet's surface to a temperature above what it would be without its atmosphere.On Earth, the atmosphere is warmed by absorption of infrared thermal radiation from the underlying surface, absorption of shorter wavelength radiant energy from the sun, and convective heat fluxes from the surface. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere radiate energy, some of which is directed to the surface and lower atmosphere.

The mechanism that produces this difference between the actual surface temperature and the effective temperature is due to the atmosphere and is known as the greenhouse effect. Earth’s natural greenhouse effect is critical to supporting life. Human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests, have intensified the natural greenhouse effect, causing global warming.

Effects of Global Warming:
  1. High temperature and severe weather
  2. Higher death rates
  3. Higher wildlife extinction rates
  4. Acidic oceans
  5. Higher sea levels

Fourth Issue

International Concern For Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is the organizing principle for sustaining finite resources necessary to provide for the needs of future generations of life on the planet. It is a process that envisions a desirable future state for human societies in which living conditions and resource-use continue to meet human needs without undermining the "integrity, stability and beauty" of natural biotic systems.

Sustainable Goals
  1. Good Health and Well-being - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
  2. Life Below Water Conservation and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
  3. Climate Action - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  4. Life on Land - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Past International Actions

Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change

  1. The Kyoto Protocol (1997)
    The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets.

    Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities."
  2. The UN Climate Change Conference (2011)
    The UN Climate Change Conference was held in Durban, South Africa (COP17, from 28 November to 9 December 2011). The event provided an opportunity to discuss how policy can be shaped to catalyses investment and engage the private sector in financing climate change action, and will include a short presentation of key messages from recent OECD work – stressing how private sector investors need clear climate and investment policies and well structured green financial instruments.
Written by: Sayed Qudrat Hashimy - International Law Student
E-mail: Sayedqudrathashimy[at] , Mobile No.+91 900 8813333 

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