Climate change is evident to all of us. It is a global problem affecting all countries. We notice the growing increase of earth’s surface temperature, the growing level of sea water, the increased intensity and frequency of hurricanes and typhoons, and the increasing evidence on ozone layer depletion. There is a growing consensus among scientists that this change is attributable to human activities.
According to the 2nd report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued in 1995 “the balance of evidence” pointed to a “discemable human influence on the global climate system”, and that the accumulations of greenhouse gases are behind the marked global warning trend of the past 20 years.
While greenhouse gases (GHGs) form naturally, many human activities add additional GHGs to the atmosphere. Heating and cooling buildings, using energy at home and work, driving vehicles to move people and goods, powering industrial processes – most things we do that consume energy contribute to the problem. Radiation from the sun enters the earth’s atmosphere, and GHGs act like a greenhouse’s glass to block this heat from escaping back to space. There is a direct link between rising atmospheric GHG concentrations, particularly carbon dioxide (C02), global warming and more frequent extreme weather events. In Egypt, climate change will affect farming, fishing, lakes, and coastal communities.
Emission rates for the most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas, CO2, have risen 120- fold in the past 150 years*. Whereas in the 19th century emissions were overwhelmingly from deforestation and other land use changes, they are now predominantly from burning fossil fuels. A direct product of industrialization, emissions now amount to 6 billion tons of carbon a year, or around 1 ton of carbon per head of the world’s population. But emissions are very uneven. Per-capital North American emissions are 18 times those of Africa, nine times those of Asia and 2.3 times those of Europe . Low gasoline prices and the pervasive automobile culture in the United States ensure that its CO2 output, already the highest in the world, is continuing to rise, while levels in much of Europe are stable or falling.
Unless the world curbs growing C02 output, concentrations in the air are likely to double from pre-industrial levels by 2080, and may warm the world by 3oC. Climate models predict that land areas will warm twice as much as the oceans; high latitudes will warm more quickly in winter; and there will be substantial changes in precipitation, especially in the tropics.
EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING
Effect on Weather:
• Destabilization of local climate – increased variation in river flows, disappearance of lakes and small in-land seas.
• More extreme weather – evidence on increase in storm strength, hurricanes, tsunamis.
• Cost of catastrophic weather event increased from 2 k$ in 1950 to 40 kS in 2000 .
Effect on Oceans:
• Retreat of the glaciers and polar ice caps by 45% from 1880 and observed sea level rise
• Increase of sea water temperature
• Acidification of ocean water due to absorption of increased C02.
Effect on Ecosystem:
Rising temperatures are beginning to impact on ecosystems. Butterflies have shifted their ranges northward by 200 km in Europe and North America. Plants lag behind, and larger animals’ migration is slowed down by cities and highways.
Effect on Forest:
Forests potentially face an increased risk of forest fires. The 10-year average of boreal forest burned in North America, after several decades of around 10,000 km*, has increased steadily since 1970 to more than 28,000 km2 annually.
Consequences of Climate Change
These (among others) include:
- Decline of agriculture
- Water scarcity
- Rood mitigation
- Population migration
- Spread of diseases
- Direct effects on health
Impact of Climate Change on Egypt
• Given Egypt’s growing population (84.4M in 2015 and 113.8M in 2050), its limited fertile land, its large area of desert, and presence of sizeable economic activities in the coastal zones, the potential social and economic impact of climate change could be devastating for die country’s future.”
• According to M. El-Raey estimates (1995) a 0.5 m sea level rise would cause migration of more than 2.0 million people, loss of more than 214,000 jobs and a value loss of more than $40.0 billion, mainly in Alexandria Govemorate and other coastal regions”.
• An independent assessment of Integrated Climate Change Impacts on Egypt” (1995) provided the following data:
– Temp, increase: +4eC for Cairo, + 3.r-4.7°C for rest
-Water/cap.: 1990:1005 m 3,2060:452 m 3 (World Bank)
– Agriculture: decline of self-sufficiency: 60% to 10%,
Global Impacts of Climate Change
1. Climate change impacts may challenge the survival of human beings and are a challenge to human security.
2. Climate change impacts will contribute to environmental stress and become a potential cause of conflict constellations.
3. Climate change impacts force human beings to leave their rural home for the next major city (urbanization) or to take refuge in a neighbouring country or overseas (migration).
4. Climate change impacts pose severe challenges for countries with most severe effects of sea level rise in delta areas but also by complex interactions of increasing temperature and declining precipitation in arid- and semi-arid regions.
5. Climate change impacts may contribute to escalation of social, ethnic or religious tension that may erupt in violent riots or result in domestic civil strife or civil war
6. Climate change Impacts and disputes on scarce resources – access to water or country crossing aquifers – may contribute to bilateral or regional non-violent or violent conflicts.
7. Climate change impacts and international environmental refugees may lead to international tensions on migration, on admission of refugees in neighbouring or in industrialized countries and on treatment of immigrant communities
8. The mitigation of challenges posed by the impact of climate change requires bilateral or multilateral international cooperation, support for adaptive capabilities and a massive technology transfer.
History of the Kyoto Protocol
• 1972 – 1st Earth Summit in Stockholm, Sweden
Here, the world leaders announced their intention to hold a gathering every ten years to determine the health of the planet.
• 1982 -Earth Summit in Nairobi, Kenya (Failed)
At the height of the Cold War, this summit failed to reach any significant agreements. It is not considered an official Earth Summit.
• 1988- The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Created by the United Nations, the IPCC brought together scientists from the world’s governments. During the 1980s, discussion about climate change focused on whether the world was warming or cooling and the formation of the IPCC marked an important step towards finding scientific answers.
• 1988 – Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere
One of the world’s first major scientific conferences on climate change. It called for a 20% cut to 1988 greenhouse gas emissions by 2005 and called the effect of climate change, “second only to global nuclear war”.
• 1990 – The first report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Released 2 years after its formation. According to IPCC, it had reason to believe that: 1- the planet was wanning 2- human activity was causing it The Panel also said: given existing models and science, IPCC would need more time to be certain
• 1992 – 2nd Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The largest gathering of world leaders ever, the Earth Summit created the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), also known as the Rio Convention. This convention adopted on May 9,1992 called on the world to stabilize 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2000.
• 1995 – Conference of Parties I in Berlin, Germany
Each year, the countries that ratified the Rio Convention held a Conference of Parties (COP). The first of these happened in 1995 and reviewed the adequacy of the Rio Convention’s goal of stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions.
• 1995 – The second report of the IPCC
Five years after saying it needed more science to be certain, the IPCC released its second report saying “the balance of evidence” pointed to a “discemable human influence on the global climate system”.
• 1996 – Conference of Parties II (COP II) in Geneva, Switzerland
In the first meeting after the IPCC’s second report, the countries belonging to the Rio Convention said, “climate change represented a danger to humanity”.
• 1997 – Conference of Parties III in Kyoto, Japan
After reviewing the original targets of the Rio Convention and finding them to be too weak, the countries came up with new targets. Now, 1990 greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by 5% between 2008 and 2012.
• Though 5% is a global target, different countries have different targets. The European Union’s target is a 8% cut (Germany committed to a 25% cut and the U.K. to 15%). The United States had a target of 7%, while Canada has a target of 6%.
• The Kyoto Protocol is an amendment to the UNFCCC. It was adopted on December 11,1997, opened to signature for one year on March 16,1998. 84 countries signed the protocol during that period including the United States.
• 1998 – Conference of the Parties IV, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Here, the Buenos Aires Plan of Action was developed to decide how the Kyoto mechanism (emissions trading, carbon sinks, clean development in the developing world, etc.) would be implemented. The countries agreed the mechanism through which targets would be achieved would be finalized by COP VI, or by 2000.
• 1999 – COP V in Bonn, Germany
Lengthy, arduous, and complex negotiations on the mechanisms
• 2000 – COP VI in The Hague, Netherlands
Was the deadline the countries gave themselves in Buenos Aries to develop a way to cut emissions as outlined in the Kyoto Protocol. The meeting failed, largely because of disagreement between the European Union and the US relating to the role of the so called ‘flexibility mechanisms’. A subsequent meeting held in Ottawa also failed due to deep policy gap.
• 2001 March Withdrawal of the United States from the Protocol.
• 2001-2002 – COP VI Part 2 in Bonn, COP VII in Marrakesh
Broad agreement was reached on outstanding issues between the remaining Parties at COP7 enabling the Protocol to move towards possible ratification. 180 countries (that is, the whole world except for the United States and Australia) agreed to the rules for implementing the Kyoto Protocol.
• 2002 – December: Canada ratifies the Kyoto Protocol
Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol, committing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012.
• 2004 – November: Russia Ratifies the Kyoto Protocol
For the protocol to go into effect, it must be ratified by the countries who together are responsible for at least 55% of 1990 global greenhouse gas emissions. This milestone was reached once Russia ratified the agreement on November 18.
• 2005 – February: the Kyoto Protocol goes into effect
The Kyoto Protocol automatically goes into effect 90 days after enough countries have signed, making February 16, 2005 the first day the agreement comes into effect.
Briefing the Kyoto Protocol
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
• The Convention on Climate Change sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change. It recognizes that the climate system is a shared resource whose stability can be affected by industrial and other emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Under the Convention governments:
• Gather and share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies and best practices
• Launch national strategies for addressing greenhouse emissions and adapting to expected impacts, including the provision of financial and technological support to developing countries
• Cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change