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Time is running out: As COP28 starts in November, what’s at stake?

The ambitious goal to mitigate the effects of climate change entails that the world’s average temperature should not exceed that of pre-industrial times by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. This necessitates a drastic cut in emissions within a mere seven-year period. Stepping outside your home now means adapting to increasingly unpredictable weather. Sudden heavy downpours can derail your plans, while scorching afternoon heat feels like an endurance test.

The urgency of tackling climate change cannot be overstated, especially at COP28 – the 28th Conference of the Parties. This gathering sees United Nations member states come together to review progress and strategize climate action following UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) guidelines.

A future characterized by intolerable weather and an uninhabitable Earth is a grim prospect. Therefore, as COP28 approaches next month, let’s approach discussions about climate change with a heightened sense of urgency.

So, what is COP28?

Think of COP as a large assembly where global leaders converge to devise strategies to prevent the Earth from overheating and experiencing abnormal weather patterns.

Scheduled for Nov. 30 to Dec. 12, 2023, at Expo City, Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), COP28’s primary focus is addressing climate change. The climate crisis spawns environmental crises, including coastal flooding due to rising sea levels, melting glaciers threatening animal habitats, and crop vulnerability.

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COP decisions possess global authority, granting equal voting rights to countries of all sizes. Consensus rules dictate that decisions are only made when everyone concurs.

As stated on the official COP28 website, “as the world’s highest decision-making process on climate issues, it is expected to host over 70,000 delegates, including heads of state and world leaders, to build consensus and facilitate progress on climate action.”

At its core, COP28 aims to “keep 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach” in order to meet the Paris Agreement’s objectives. Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is crucial for averting severe climate consequences such as coral reef destruction, disease outbreaks, and, most critically, ensuring a habitable planet.

Why does COP28 matter to Filipinos?

From rising temperatures and sea-level elevations to the loss of livelihoods, the Philippines is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In the latest Social Weather Stations survey, 93 percent of Filipinos reported experiencing climate change effects in the past three years.

Despite this, 88 percent of Filipinos expressed their belief that they can contribute to mitigating climate risks, as revealed by the survey. Whether or not you fall within that 88 percent, the call for climate risk mitigation is louder now than ever.

Moreover, the Philippines produced approximately 146.5 million tons of carbon dioxide from energy consumption in 2022, according to Statista. Notably, this figure was 83.2 million tons in 2012 – nearly a twofold increase within a decade.

If we continue to disregard climate change despite its glaring impacts, when will we address it? COP28 offers an opportunity to “rethink, reboot, and refocus the climate agenda,” and it’s an opportunity to be part of the solution.

What can I, an average citizen, do to help?

Aside from adopting eco-friendly practices such as waste reduction and transitioning to a sustainable lifestyle, start by staying informed about the climate crisis. Go beyond the headlines in climate change news and understand its multifaceted impact on our lives. Even a casual conversation with your peers can contribute to raising awareness about the climate crisis.

If you don’t like talking, then use online platforms to spread the message of sustainability, circular economy, and green living. Just make sure to spread messages that are accurate and vetted by climate experts.

Emulate COP28’s “leave no one behind” approach to climate action, which emphasizes the need for collective efforts. Engaging in meaningful discussions about the climate crisis may not be as immediately gratifying as playing video games or surfing YouTube, but it is a vital step in assisting our planet in its quest to reclaim its natural balance.

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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