Responding to climate change - an urgent global issue
People in many regions of the world have had to face record heat waves, due to climate change in recent years. Scientists confirmed that July 2023 was the hottest month in recorded history, affecting tens of millions of people. President of the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), Sultan Al Jaber called on the Group of Twenty (G20), to play a leading role in efforts to respond to climate change.
Many countries around the world have continuously issued special warnings about the heat, as the increasing temperature continues to seriously affect people’s lives, even claiming the lives of many people.
In Asia, the Republic of Korea issued a heat wave warning in most parts of the country, as the heat returned after the rainy season. Japan’s parliament passed a revised bill called the Climate Change Adaptation Act, creating a ‘special heatstroke alert’ level, higher than the existing regular heatstroke alert. This special heatstroke alert, which is likely to come into effect in the summer of 2024, will be issued in the event of alleged severe health damage, due to extreme heat.
In the UK, the risk of extreme weather becoming more frequent has raised concerns about the UK’s lack of preparation, to deal with climate change. Experts, including the UK government’s climate advisers, warn current policies are not enough to meet commitments to minimise climate change.
According to the UK’s national weather service, the temperature in the UK exceeded 40C for the first time, reaching 40.3C in 2022, forcing the Government to declare a national emergency, due to the heat leading to forest fires, destruction of houses and deaths. The UK has just experienced its hottest June ever.
The environmental organisation Friends of the Earth, emphasised the urgency of taking measures to both cut emissions and prepare for extreme weather.
Meanwhile, in the Americas, the Mexican Ministry of Health said that the number of deaths from extreme heat has reached 249 over the past four months. Some Mexican states reported record heat up to 45C. States along the Mexico-US border are suffering intense heat waves caused by the “heat dome” weather phenomenon.
Heat waves occur regularly more than twice the average in Central Asia and Europe, prompting the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to warn of 92 million children, half of the region’s young population, are at risk of being affected by fierce hot weather. According to UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, countries in these regions are feeling the heat of the climate crisis.
The increase in temperature in the oceans is also alarming. Globally, average ocean temperatures have regularly set new seasonal records since April. The Mediterranean region - which experienced record temperatures in July - is considered a hotbed of climate change. According to the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, on July 24, the temperature of the Mediterranean Sea reached a record high of 28.71C, in the context of extreme heat raging in Europe.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said, that after the Mediterranean Sea posted a new record high temperature, the North Atlantic also reached an unprecedented temperature during the past week, several weeks earlier than its usual annual peak.
Amid this context, the G20 economies, which generate 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, shoulder the responsibility of taking the lead in the fight against climate change. The President of COP28 called on the G20 countries to unite and work together to scale up the use of renewable energy, comprehensively decarbonise the energy system and build a system that does not use fossil fuels. Strengthening the ability to adapt to climate change, reduce emissions, and protect the environment is an urgent global issue and cannot be delayed.