Published:  01:16 AM, 28 July 2020

Climate change in the time of Covid-19

Climate change in the time of Covid-19
We cannot and must not forget the ever-present crisis that only gets worse with each passing year that of climate change Every country in the whole world is currently busy fighting the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic; the virus has devastated lives and livelihoods and there is every reason for the immediate focus to be on stopping this pandemic.

However, in the midst of the crisis posed by the pandemic, we cannot and must not forget the ever-present crisis that only gets worse with each passing year that of climate change.To that end, it is extremely good to see that Bangladesh now leads the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) a group of 48 countries vulnerable to rising seas and extreme weather for the next two years. The world is in the quintessential global health crisis. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, countries, including Bangladesh, have been witnessing huge economic losses.

Scientists report, in the same way, the next pandemic new climate-related devastation" from floods, droughts, heat waves and super storms is approaching fast, since humans are increasingly influencing the climate and the earth's temperature by cutting down trees/forests, burning fossil fuels and intensive farming (livestock).Evidence suggests that climate change could be a threat multiplier for zoonotic and pandemic diseases; that means, changing climate can perpetuate another pandemic in the future.

The world is facing a grave climate emergency Countries could seize the pandemic moment to flatten the climate curve. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change illustrates essential urgency into decision-making and climate actions, particularly using the economic stimulus. Scientists have incessantly been exploring the best approaches for climate change adaptation and mitigation. COP25 has placed the utmost importance on climate empowerment as an optimal way for climate actions and makes a wake-up call for all countries to invest in climate empowerment by COP26. Climate Empowerment is a term adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to denote work under Article 6 of the Convention and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement. The overarching goal of this term is to empower all members of society to engage in climate actions.

This empowerment calls on the governments to develop and implement educational and public awareness programmes, train scientific, technical and managerial personnel, foster access to information, and promote public participation in addressing climate change and its effects. Article 6 of the UNFCC states six avenues for climate empowerment: education, training, public awareness, public access to information, public participation, and international cooperation (referred to popularly as Action for Climate Empowerment - ACE). Article 6 urges countries to cooperate in this action, by exchanging good practices and lessons learned, and strengthening national institutions.

Many efforts of implementing ACE have been observed. COP 20 adopted the Lima Ministerial Declaration on Education and Awareness-raising, which reaffirms the importance of ACE to promote climate-resilient sustainable development. The declaration of COP 21 (Paris) stated to cooperate in taking measures, as appropriate, to enhance climate change-related education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information, recognizing the importance of these steps to enhance actions under the Paris Agreement.

A wide scope of activities is guided by specific objectives that, together, are crucial for effectively implementing climate adaptation and mitigation actions, and for achieving the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC-stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations. Of late, COP25 declares that implementation of six areas of ACE is crucial to the global response to climate change. International frameworks related to ACE can be found with a view to build a low-emission, climate-resilient world.

Three of the 17 goals (and associated targets) have relevance for ACE. Goal 4 advocates about inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting life-long learning opportunities for all. Goal 13 signifies take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by improving education, awareness-raising and capacity building on mitigation and adaptation. Goal 16 mentions increasing public access to information and protects fundamental freedoms.

In accordance with national legislation and international agreements. Likewise, the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development, Aarhus Convention, and UNEP Bali Guidelines on Principle 10 put emphasis on ACE for adaptation and mitigation. Recently, Burgenland Declaration Champions ACE and reports ACE is fundamental in the planning and actions of our government, organisation, agency, company and personal and public enterprise. The elements of ACE, thus, require meticulous planning for the sake of protecting earth's climate for present and future generations. Training is significant for spreading specific practical skills that can have a short-, medium- and long-term practical application in managing climate change effects.

Numerous examples include the ability to gather and interpret climate data, conduct inventories of national emissions, and identify climate-smart technologies. Training is about learning by doing individuals, communities and organisations can all benefit from ongoing learning. Particularly, training of climate experts in developing countries and empowering youth to participate in climate conferences and lead climate action is essential.

Studies show training provides the technical skills and advanced knowledge needed to support the transition to green economies and sustainable, climate-resilient societies.Public access to climate information or data matters for development in the 21st century. Increasing public access to information provides people with the tools and opportunities they need to play a more active role.

Also programmes to engage citizens and Civil Society Organization (CSOs) in addressing climate change can be improved by ensuring that information is freely available. This is crucial in order to develop and implement effective policies and to engage people actively in implementing these policies. Technologies such as databases and the internet facilitate the provision of climate information, data and statistics to all citizens.

Education is crucial to tackle the climate crisis, as important work on climate education is taken forward under the UNFCC and the Paris Agreement. The UN Climate Change Executive Secretary said, "Climate change should be included in all school curricula and should play a central role in updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).I look forward towards more countries factoring in climate education into their national climate action plans.

It is, therefore, crucial to plan integrate climate change education in the NAPs and NDCs; mainstream climate change education into national curricula; develop approaches, tools and materials for climate change education; and engage the non-party stakeholders in climate change education Public awareness is particularly vital in this country for climate change management.

The governments, NGOs, development organizations, and UN agencies have already launched public awareness programmes. But there remains an enormous unmet need for more outreach. Creating a successful outreach programme that profoundly changes behaviour involves targeted and systematic communications.

To prepare societies and to mitigate the consequences, build capacity and strengthen our resilience, international cooperation is needed at all levels.International cooperation and exchange can play a major role in strengthening ACE efforts. Many governments and relevant stakeholders need access to expertise and financial and technical resources so they can develop their own climate change programmes.

All countries can benefit from sharing success stories, exchanging personnel, and strengthening institutional capacity.In sum, amid its horrors and tragedies, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a startling reality. More encouragingly, it appears from the get go that Bangladesh is going to take this responsibility extremely seriously, and has vowed to put pressure on the wealthy nations aggravating the global warming crisis to be more mindful and cut their emissions. Furthermore, in its leadership role, Bangladesh is also set to expand upon a trust fund that has been set up to help its members tackle climate change, along with lobby for internatio -nal progress on responding to the rise of loss and damage from climate extremities.

This remains a grave injustice in the world, that the nations at disproportionately greater risk to the effects of climate change and Bangladesh is one of them have done very little to cause the problem in the first place. It is time that the wealthier nations those that have enjoyed their industrialization and rapid modernization at the cost of our planet do their part and help the vulnerable nations that, through no fault of their own, have had to bear the brunt of this climate crisis.

The writer is a columnist.

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