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Fighting humanity's deadliest enemy


Fighting humanity's deadliest enemy

The world at the moment is witnessing a whole host of issues. The Ukraine war, highly volatile energy market, unchecked inflation, looming food grains crisis and rising global temperature. These are some of the issues of current concern. But which among these crises is the most critical to demand the highest attention from the global community? 

The worsening global warming scenario, of course. But how far the world is being attentive to this issue on which the survival of the planet as a sustainer of life hinges?  To all appearances, other immediate issues of war and the turmoil it has caused in the fossil fuel market has left the world community and its leaders blind to the veritable nuclear bomb of the rising global temperature ticking away inexorably.  

In fact, as a fallout from the Ukraine war, there has been a fresh spur in the investment in gas and oil sector worldwide. As reported by the BBC quoting the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), the analysis provided by two research groups tracking climate action, the world risks being locked into "irreversible warming". The consensus reached at the successive climate conferences including the last one held in Glasgow, Scotland, the so-called COP26, that carbon emission by fossil fuel must be dramatically reduced by 2030 seems to have been forgotten. The target was to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, so that impending catastrophe of climate change-origin could be averted. But to the despair of the climate action activists in different countries, new investments are being made in the exploration of fossil fuel and infrastructures are being built for the purpose. Professor Niklas Hohme of the New Climate Institute, for example, has termed such turn of events as a 'gold rush' for fossil fuel infrastructures, the BBC continues. 

In fact, such shortsightedness on the part of nations and their government in times of crisis has been the cause of many manmade calamities in the past. Even the great wars were the outcome of such short-sighted, sometimes ego-driven, decision of world powers. The urge to meet the immediate need of the time, as in the case of Europe's ongoing effort to find an alternative to Russian energy, is doubtless an expedient one. And by investing in the search for fossil fuel, they have already broken the promise they made at the last climate summit. However, amid this madness, John Kerry, the US climate envoy, has warned against using Ukraine war as an excuse to increase dependency on coal. While appreciating the US climate envoy's concern on the issue, one would also like to hear from him on what the US and other advanced economies of North America and Europe have been doing to protect the most climate-vulnerable nations like Bangladesh from the fossil fuel-induced energy crunch.  

To be frank, these poor countries lack the resources to switch to cleaner energy all of a sudden. Worse yet, erosion of their local currencies in the face of rising inflation compounded by depletion of whatever foreign exchange they could hold in reserve have crippled their economies. As a result, the spectre of a Sri Lanka-like situation has been raised in many of these countries. And to survive the onslaught of the immediate crises, some countries, not unlike the European ones, have been resorting to unconventional means in search of a reliable energy source. Admittedly, it is a huge dichotomy that these least developed and the developing countries are faced with.  

So, the big economic powers like the US and the European Union (EU) have a role to play here. The resources they are now setting aside to explore fresh oil and gas reserves offshore and onshore, they should invest in the renewable energy sector of the climate-vulnerable as well as energy-poor nations. In this way they could be weaned off the use of highly polluting coal and other forms of fossil fuel. Since the larger segment of humanity as well as animal and plant species exist in this part of the world, investing here would the best climate action they can take part in. 

In sharp contrast to such option, as the reports go, some European and North American countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and Canada have been planning to set up Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities whereby they would import the fossil fuel from gas-rich Gulf countries.  

Obviously, that is a short-term answer to fuel crisis in their bid to avoid the Russian oil and gas.  

But the western world could well have looked at the fuel crisis born of the Russian invasion of Ukraine as an opportunity to switch to renewable energy for themselves and the rest of the world in a big way. But we have not heard anything from either the US climate envoy or his European counterparts in this regard so far. 

True, the EU leaders in their reaction to Ukraine war had initially talked about transitioning to solar and wind power as well as other renewable options. But that too seems to have been put on the backburner for the time being. 

The Ukraine war will end. So will the volatility in the world market of energy and commodities. But what will still remain is the gravest threat to living world, the rising global temperature caused mainly by fossil fuel burning.  

When is the advanced world going to show its unity and the actions following from it to fight humanity's mortal enemy, climate change?  

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