“You shall therefore keep all my statutes and all my rules and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out,” Leviticus 20:22
The measures set to deal with climate change on the latest held climate change summit held in Glasgow, Britain last year seems to be a dead rubber following fewer commitments by biggest carbon emitting member states if any have been achieved so far.
The greatest disquietude is that greatest world polluters, who refused to break their marriages with dirty fuel but promised to reduce emissions continue to go parallel with their verses.
This means the great polluters have nothing tangible to report at the upcoming COP-27 summit in Egypt.
Thus, bringing discontent, disarray and irresponsibility from the economic gaffers, which are expected to skyrocket the emerging economies.
Recap of Glasgow Climate Pact
At the summit, developed country signatories agreed to put an ending to fossil fuel subsidies, phasing out coal, putting a price on carbon, protecting vulnerable communities, and delivering the $US100 billion climate finance commitment to help third world countries divert from using dirty energy.
However, China and India, later on, refuted from ‘phasing out’ to ‘phasing down’ fossil fuels. Although reflecting large rifts as far as nations try to bury the issue of climate change, it was taken as a step towards progress for a thousand miles journey begins with a step.
Meanwhile, more than 40 countries including some major coal-users such as Poland, Vietnam and Chile – agreed to shift away from coal, one of the biggest generators of CO2 emissions.
In a surprise for many, the United States and China pledged to boost climate cooperation over the next decade. In a joint declaration, they said they had agreed to take steps on a range of issues, including methane emissions, transition to clean energy and decarbonisation. They also reiterated their commitment to keeping the 1.5C goal alive.
There was also a methane pledge, led by the United States and the European Union, by which more than 100 countries agreed to cut emissions of this greenhouse gas by 2030.
Worrisomely, the pulse rate of a 1.5 degrees Celsius carbon target seems weak following the recent surge in coal output by China for December and the whole of 2021.
China, the world’s largest coal producer and consumer-produced 384.67 million tonnes of fossil fuel in December, up 7.2%, National Bureau of Statistics data shows. This compares to the previous record of 370.84 million tonnes set in November.
For the whole of 2021, production reached a record 4.07 billion tonnes, up 4.7% from the previous year.
Despite, shifting from phasing out to phasing down, China started breaching the 1.5 degrees within 30 days from Glasgow with no signs of backing off earlier.
On the other hand, China’s young brother in pollution the USA, saw a slim increase in coal output of 3.9% as the nation promised to divert to cleaner energy, electric cars and use of methane.
Coal is the biggest contributor to anthropogenic climate change. The burning of coal is responsible for over 45% of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide and accounts for over 70% of total greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector. This makes China gets more traction as far as the issue of climate change is concerned.
Is coal ramping justified as nations are recovering from COVID-19?
The rise in dirty fuel is unjust and unaccepted especially when done by nations who benefited most from it. The heat is felt by developing countries especially in Africa as discord is already defining rainfall patterns. During the past few years, cyclones, droughts and floods have been the tone of the day in Africa mainly due to climate change-related effects.
The rate of global warming due to gas emissions has resulted in unmerciful climate hazards. This weighs on developing countries, which at the same time emits a small proportion of emissions.
Following Glasgow Pact, China promised to shackle its coal projects in Africa to reduce carbon gas emissions yet itself is scaling up. This is bulling Africa, something like robbing Peter to pay Paul, shedding crocodile’s tears.
Even if the nations are coming from a COVID-19 pandemic, raising emissions to record highs is never justified given they are already biggest polluters who are aiming to reduce global warming to 1.5 degrees. Yes, there is a need to rebound economic activities but it should not be given a deaf ear that the economy thrives on climate. According to Swiss Re Group, climate change could cut the world economy by US$23 trillion by 2050, which is 10% of its economic value. If this is to be curtailed, the best time to start is now.
According to the data collected by Swiss Re last year June, China is at risk of losing nearly 24% of its GDP in a severe scenario compared to forecast losses of 10% for the US, Canada and the UK and 11% for Europe. Therefore, record-high volumes in dirty fuel production by China is just shooting itself through the head, though in long term.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report in 2021 identified climate action failure as the most impactful and second-most likely long term risk facing the world in a year when populations continued to struggle to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report warned billions across the world are at a heightened risk of missing out on future economic opportunities and the benefits of a resilient global community.
However, China has cast out some bad apples as it also feels the danger of climate change. China's crude steel output fell 3% year on year to 1.033 billion tonnes in 2021, National Bureau of Statistics data released on January 17 2021 shows, posting the first year-on-year decline since 2016.
Chinese government urged the industry since the beginning of 2021 to keep full-year steel production at no more than the previous year's levels to reduce pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions, as the country vowed to reach its carbon peak by 2030.
Steel production started contracting both on an annual and monthly basis in July when the government tightened environmental controls. An unexpected power shortage - fuelling raw material prices - and a debt crisis in the property market also dented demand for industrial metal.
The Chinese government is anticipating crude steel production to slip by 0.7%this year from 2021.
The steel industry is the third-largest contributor to air pollution and one of the largest contributors to emissions of carbon dioxide. Steel particularly requires coal for energy, so a lot of emissions is caused by coal combustion.
Steel plants emit air pollutants such as particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), carbon dioxide, sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide.
Therefore, as a Chinese proverb reads “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” the 3% decline in steel production is a huge step towards depleting carbon emissions.
We are all living together on a single planet, which is threatened by our actions. Climate change is not a partisan debate but a human one. Clean air and water, and a liveable climate are inalienable human rights. Solving this crisis is not a question of politics but a moral obligation. China should do something.
Climate change is a global problem. The planet is warming because of the growing level of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. If this trend continues, truly catastrophic consequences are likely to ensue from rising sea levels to reduced water availability, to more heatwaves and fires. Life should be prioritised over economic acceleration. If everyone dies, who will cherish the economic blossoms?
Given that, the world must come together to confront climate change to deter more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades.
China, apart from phasing down crude steel production, should also do the same in coal production for the benefit of the next generations. USA, India should also follow the same path as the top 3 carbon gasses emitters in the world.
Great concern should also be given to Africa. With great nations already surging their coal production, it is likely that they are not going to release the US$100 billion any soon making it hard for Africa to divert from coal. With its I billion population emitting circa 2% to greenhouse gasses, developed nations like China and the Western countries should help.