When will politicians finally put climate change on top of their priority list?
A new study co-authored by researchers from the University of Cambridge suggests that climate change will not only affect hot and poor nations but also rich and cold countries to the same extent. In this study, it is estimated that the effect of climate change could cause a major western country such as the United States to lose 10.5 % of its GDP by 2100, if no drastic changes and more political collaborations such as the Paris Agreement are implemented. Other countries such as Canada could even lose over 13% of their GDP by 2100. However, if all countries adhere to the Paris Agreement, Canada and the USA could limit their losses to under 2% of GDP. This information is in total contrast to the predictions so far that “cooler or wealthier economies will be unaffected or even see benefits from higher temperatures,” making it even more important for these countries to tackle climate change issues. Particularly, as without the Paris Agreement, the average global temperature is set to increase by aprox. 4 degrees until the end of the century.
Also at the current rate, the targets of the Paris Agreement, whose goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, are in danger of not being achieved as the world is on pace for around a 3°C rise in temperature this century. To reach the broader Paris goals, the current 195 signatories to the treaty would need to dramatically accelerate their transition toward clean energy over the next 12 years. But why is not happening? In our opinion politicians are still not putting climate change on top of their priority list. To exacerbate the matter further, unfortunately some countries such as Brazil or the USA are governed by leaders who completely ignore or deny climate change.
The most surprising thing is that the electorate seems to be more ready to combat climate change than their politicians. A recent study published in 2019 by Yale University (Climate Change in the American Mind (CCAM) survey data) confirms that 73 percent of Americans now believe that climate change is happening. Also, a record number of Americans are also “very worried” about global warming, with a stunning 8-point rise in less than a year.“ Another analysis by the Australian Institute states that Australians want their government to act on climate change as well and would even like them to mobilise everyone like during the world wars. Other topics that are very high on the agenda of the Australians are 1) the rapid transition to renewable energy (68% support), 2) no new coal mines (53% support) and 3) publicly funded research into zero-carbon industrial and agricultural practices (63% support).
Hence, in this case Americans and Australians - and we are certain the population of most of other western nations - want environmental action. However, the question remains when will politicians finally put climate change on top of their agenda and issue more laws and regulations to help combat climate change? Sadly, politicians everywhere have been found to be lacking in this regard, as not enough is done to be more environmental friendly. So, we can only agree with Greta Thunberg who says: “of course we need hope. But the one thing we need more than hope is action. Because once we start to act, hope is everywhere.”
For more information on the effect of climate change on cooler and wealthier countries: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190819082450.htm
For more information on the Yale University study: https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/climate-change-in-the-american-mind-data-tools-and-trends/
For more information on the Australian study: