These are days of global talks in New York about burning issues. The General Assembly of UN is meeting amidst a mix of complex issues involving instability like the war clouds gathering around Iran, China-US trade war, the failed Afghan peace talks, human rights violations and refugee crisis in different geograhical regions and Brexit. However, beside all this and the UN General Assembly, another summit conference is also being held in New York on a different theme which in a sense is more grave and urgent than all others. It is the climate summit that has been forced to be held by the pressure from the new generation.
The millenials, often blamed by their seniors as a generation of pastime-seekers lacking in responsibility and seriousness, are now set to counter-allege the same against their seniors. What they talk about is the indifference and apathy of the seniors even in the midst of crisis about survival faced by the planet. Currently this global student agitation is held every Friday in about 5,000 places spread over 137 countries. Their demand is that heads of states should take up the seriousness of climate crisis and take strict measures to counter it expeditiously. Over two thousand scientists have come out in support of them. In this context, the UN Climate Action Summit convened by UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, is said to be contemplating ways to get the Paris Consensus on climate implemented as early as possible.
As per the Paris Consensus endorsed by world's nations in 2015, necessary action was mandated in order to hold global warming in check to below 2 deg celsius. It later dawned that even that ambition was not enough. Scientists pointed out that if warming is not arrested to be below 1.5 deg celsius by 2030, things will go out of hand and earth will nosedive to unstoppable perdition. The ignorance of rulers and governments posed a major hurdle before resolution attempts; that was compounded by the pressues by the corporate lobby. A fourth of the global atmospheric pollution is caused by the United States, a country populated by less than five per cent of the world's population. On the other hand, the victims suffering from sea erosion and refugee crisis as a result of global warming, are the 'undeveloped' countries.
This disparity could not be addressed even by the Paris Consensus. Countries who cause the most pollution refuse to allocate adequate funds to reduce it. And just because it was not binding on any one, Paris Consensus is not getting implemented within a set time-frame. According to a study by the research group called 'Climate Action Tracker', there are only two countries that have taken necessary action to hold increase of heat below 1.5 deg celsius: Morocco and Gambia, both poor countries. Although India has been making good headway with huge investments in alternate energy generation, recently increased investments in the coal production sector has caused some anxiety. Countries like China and Australila are among those that have not mitigated pollution. The dependence on fossil oils has not come down adequately either. If things move at current rate, by 2100 the earth will blaze with a heating increase of 3 degrees annually.
United Nations has come to be an organization that is incapable of doing anything about the huge problems that haunt the world. Coming to the climate crisis, there again the US is synonymous with inefficacy. Although secretary general Antonio Guterres is now calling upon all nations to totally eliminate carbon emission by 2050, it may end up as merely a continuation of meaningless calls that have been given over the last 30 years. For, ever since 1950 scientists have been making such exhortations. But then what happened? It was only in 1979 that countries sat together to deliberate on the issue – at the climate change conference in Geneva. After tiring series of discussions and putting heads together, it took still more years for an agreement to take shape, i.e. in 1994 when the UN's 'Framework Convention' came into force.
It took yet another decade to change it, since that too was inadequate. Thus came Kyoto Protocol in 2005. And in 2015, the Paris Consensus was signed with greater clarity and correcting the shortfalls in Kyoto. But again Paris is not enough, besides being non-binding. It is a realization about this slackness and apathy that pushed Greta Thunberg and others to the conviction that they should themselves enter the scene for their future. Their adolescent activism has to be effective. One thing is undeniable: climate crisis, which did not figure in the negotiations or debates of world powers, has not become a priority topic now. And in this the young generation's slogan 'listen to science' has a major role.
Together with all this, the fact that warnings given by scientists have become a reality has also made human beings think differently. Floods, cyclones and drought are not vague forecasts any longer; they are now living first-hand experience. Climate activists are now leading agitations to solve climate crisis, by mobiling the future generation – and not by supplicating to egotistic political leaders as done by UN. Viewed in that angle, the hope of the world now is not UN, but its youth.