Earth summit, excercise or reality?

Updated: Mar 5, 2020

UN Earth Summit on Carbon emissions issues and goals for 2040

My class at the university was assigned to represent the countries that have participated in the UN Earth Summit, in an attempt to better understand the current challenges that take place in real life for these countries and their representatives. Also as important, was the fact that we were asked to try to come up with personal solutions in which we believed that a common ground could be found for all the countries to work constructively together in hope for a reduction of climate change and the destructive rise in temperature which is considered to be crucial for the future of the life on planet earth.

A total of twelve teams, representing the following countries:

China, India, US, Australia, Brazil, UK, Canada, Egypt, South East Asia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iceland, Haiti, Philippines, Switzerland.

In total, there are seventeen goals which the UN is attempting to successfully reach, but my class, in particular have been assigned to manage goal number thirteen. Goal thirteen tackles climate change and its impacts. The simulation summit agenda was around the possibility of all these countries to become carbon neutral by 2040.

Figure 1. Photo credited to Plymouth University. Representing the UN goals to make the world a better place by 2030.

At the end of the session, three of the country’s representatives are asked to vote in favour or against the motion with a second vote from an individual point of view.

Following a period of research into the country’s history, financial potential and forecast, people’s carbon footprint, deforestation, energy alternative capacity, number of the population in poverty, and all the other alternatives, or potential deals with neighbouring countries, the students could form a better understanding on whether those countries that they represent, could really become carbon neutral by the dead-line of 2040. The students have gone to the extent of trying to take it personal and negotiate very ambitious deals with other countries, in an attempt to help all the countries to become carbon neutral by 2040.

At the summit presentation, it became clear that many of the countries, regardless of their level of wealth, have different issues that requires a long time to be addressed, before becoming carbon neutral. A couple of surprises arise from two of the countries that according to the general consensus, had the least chances to come any close to becoming carbon neutral. Despite the high levels of poverty in India and the second highest number of populations, have promised to invest one hundred billion dollars in clean energy production and one of the most impressive was Iceland, which is the only country with the capacity of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

Southeast Asia was the only exception in regard to the number of countries that was representing. Southeast Asia represented ten countries and nine of these countries are at a critical level of poverty, with a huge percentage of deforestation and an increase in industrialisation due to cheap labour, which have proven to increase a country’s carbon emissions. The present percentage of the deforestation in Southeast Asia is at 50%, with an incredible forecast of 98% by 2040, which will make it even more difficult to meet the agenda of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

The countries vote on whether the representatives believed to be able to meet the agenda by 2040 ended with a negative 19 to 17 votes.

The individual vote turned up to be in reverse, with a much higher difference, which was very challenging for the entire exercise.

In conclusion, most people would like for these measures to take place and become successful for the greater good, but we all understand that it is not as easy as it seems or sounds. The amount of the implications and complications involved in a project of this magnitude are a huge time and resources consumers. Especially when we are talking about ‘’time’’, which it is of the essence in this case, with all the warnings and reports coming from the IPCC (International Panel of Climate Change) and other similar organizations.

In the end I would like to say that for a massive task like this we need not to rely on a few people to solve everything, regardless on the level of their expertise or determination, as the level of the progress have shown so far, that we might not be able to meet any deadlines, no matter how tight or relaxed these would be. A better way to tackle this issues will be if most of us are going to bring forward our humane spirit and together to contribute more consciously to prevent, reduce and recycle the earth's resources.

It takes little or no effort to ask someone else to fix it for us, or to trough the blame around in circles. We need to be able collectively to learn how to give up on part of our commodities and perks for the greater good and for a sustained future for the next generations.

Please feel free to contribute on this topic with your personal opinions, comments on possible solutions or anything that you might find relevant for this subject. It is all about communication and collaboration. ''A good idea is a good idea, no matter where it comes from''.

Overall I come to the realisation that it is not an small task to come to a clear and fast solution when dealing with so many countries with so many different needs. Unless the climate change will start to attack us all in brutal ways, which will bring a imminent threat for our existence, no common, instant change will take place for now. It is a common perception that the governments should do something about it, or most of it about it, in order for the future generations to have an equal chance as we had so far. In fact, it will come down to ALL of us to change, to understand that we will need to give up on some of our perks if a real change is to be achieved sooner rather than later. What is your opinion?

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