No time to lose to save the world

As we speak, the top climate science advisors in the United Nations are working on a chilling 4,000 page report on the climate crisis, showing that the planet is in even more trouble than we anticipated. Some of the key details were leaked in the press this week, showing that we have less time to act, and that we must act with far greater urgency. In the meanwhile, our political representatives, with their arms twisted by lobbyists, are taking ever more cowardly steps backwards instead of forwards. There is greater urgency than ever before, with every single passing day, for responsible citizens to read more about the unfolding science of climate change, and to stand up and do their part to pressure for the necessary change, before it is too late.

We are seeing monumental shifts towards sustainability which would have been unimaginable a few years ago. We have recently seen a string of victories in European courts, where citizens are holding their governments legally accountable to take action on climate change – and the citizens are winning these cases. Unfortunately the European Climate Law approved by the European Parliament has been so weakened and diluted that it breaks the EU’s own Paris climate agreement promises. The details of this legislation have been hotly contested by the Greens. As a result of dirty business pulling its strings coupled with opportunism and cowardice from the European Christian Democrats and Socialist parties amongst others, the final version of this law falls short of expectations. It goes against science. It will not be enough to limit global warming to the 1.5°C that climate scientists say we must achieve.

Therefore, at a time when science is saying we need to be even more ambitious, or face irreversible damage forever, we are instead heading in the wrong direction in many areas. The Greens/EFA in the European Parliament have been at the forefront of this fight for higher targets. After difficult negotiations, a compromise climate target was reached. Instead of the desired ambitious 65% lower emissions, the EU Climate Law will in practice only aim for a 52.8% reduction in emissions. This is estimated to fall short of the Paris Climate Accord targets. In the bigger picture, scientists are saying that not even the Paris Climate Accord targets are high enough to prevent disastrous global warming.

The consequences of greed have never been higher in the history of mankind. While natural climate change takes place very slowly over many thousands of years, the radical man-made type of climate change we are facing now is going to lead to devastating heat waves, droughts, floods, forest fires, water shortages and biodiversity collapse like we have never seen since humans as we know them today have walked the Earth. For short-term profits and greed, we would sacrifice the very habitability, comfort and safety of our one and only home. In Malta the coast is under threat, water resources are drying up and heat is scorching our land, compounded by government’s dilettante approach to climate change and sustainability. Our quality of life and everything we hold dear will start to vanish within decades if we do not take action now.

The fight is not hopeless, however daunting it may be. A European Climate Law and a Green Deal would have been difficult to imagine a few years ago. In March of this year, climate activists managed to deal a major blow to the Exxon Mobil Corp on Wednesday, placing environmentalists on its board of directors. This will force one of the greatest polluters to reckon with the reality and risks of climate change. Sustainability is no longer an option – it is an obligation. It is in everyone’s interest to pull this same rope, for the good of all. There can be no more inspiring or motivating a fight than that to save the common inheritance of mankind and the very natural world itself.

Mark Zerafa
ADPD Deputy Chairperson
Published in The Malta Independent – Sunday 27 June 2021