Year after year, we’re setting a new record of the greatest heat waves, the most glaciers melting and the greatest droughts. The past 20 years have been the hottest in Earth’s history since life evolved on it.
At this moment, we’re increasing our net global carbon-dioxide output instead of decreasing and bringing it to zero. If we don’t achieve net neutral carbon emissions by 2050, it will be lead to a global catastrophe. This isn’t an exaggerated fact. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5°C this century, we need to get the world on a path to net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by mid-century (2050).
Most countries have agreed to do their part in curbing the carbon dioxide levels, but the question is how much? And how much should the levels be curbed? The issue is a complex psychological and political one. Developed countries (such as the USA, Germany, Australia) blame the developing countries (India, China, Brazil) to reduce their CO2 emissions and move to renewable energy that is uneconomical.
On the other hand, developing countries blame the developed ones to cut back on their emissions, stating that their emissions aren’t due to the ‘lifestyle’, but are essential for the development of their population. Another argument used by developing countries is that developed countries got rich by polluting without any restraint and they aren’t allowing other countries to break out of poverty.
China is a prime example of this. The enormous rise of China’s emissions to become the largest CO2-emitting nation is coupled with the greatest reduction of poverty in history. Though it has the highest emissions in the world, it also has a population of around 1.4 billion. Thus, a suitable metric to compare emissions would be emissions/capita. Not considering countries where oil and gas are produced, Australia, America and Canada have the highest emissions per capita in the world.
In terms of inequality, the richest half of countries are responsible for 86% of total emissions. The bystander effect is prevalent on a global scale regarding climate change. The term refers to the phenomenon in which the greater the number of people present, the less likely they are to help a person in distress due to diffusion in responsibility. Also, since climate change isn’t immediate, people underestimate its impact.
First world countries must research and make alternative energy that is economically feasible for everyone. At the same time, developing countries must also transition towards a carbon-neutral state in time. The question remains, who should take responsibility?
About The Author: Vignesh is an engineering student who’s curious about everything above and below the sun. He is an engineer by day and electronic musician by night.