Thursday, July 2, 2020

WORLD | 28-12-2019 09:44

2019 – the year the world woke up to the climate emergency?

Schoolchildren skipping class to strike, protests bringing city centres to a standstill – armed with dire warnings from scientists, people around the world dragged the climate emergency into the mainstream in 2019.

Spurred on by Swedish wunderkind Greta Thunberg – virtually unknown outside of her homeland a year ago but now a global star nominated for a Nobel prize – millions of young people took part in weekly demonstrations demanding climate action.

And, like harbingers of the apocalypse, the Extinction Rebellion movement embarked on a campaign of peaceful civil disobedience that spread worldwide, armed with little more than superglue and the nihilistic motto: “When hope dies, action begins.”

Although scientists have warned for decades about the risk to humanity and Earth posed by unfettered burning of fossil fuels, in 2019 – set to be the second hottest year in history – their message seems to have finally hit home.

The 2015 Paris agreement saw nations commit to limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels as a way of curbing the worst impacts of global warming. A safer cap of 1.5C was included as a goal for nations to work towards.

With Earth having already warmed by one degree, the IPCC dropped a bombshell late last year. Its landmark report in October 2018 laid the groundwork for the string of climate shockwaves that rumbled throughout 2019: The world is way off course for 1.5C, and the difference between 1.5C and 2C could be catastrophic.

“The message from scientists was that each half-degree counts,” said Amy Dahan, a science historian specialising in climate at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research.

It was a message heard around the world. Reacting to the impending climate emergency, citizens across the globe – in particular, young people – are now taking action, asking governments and companies to step up to the plate. Argentina is no exception – and since the turn of the year, there is a growing momentum that serious steps must be taken.

Protesters grabbed column inches with protests at the La Rural farming show, as well a climate strike which saw thousands of people protest outside Congress.

At least two Argentines drew attention in New York at a UN climate summit, with 19-yearold Bruno Rodríguez appearing alongside Thunberg and UN Secretary General António Guterres, and Buenos Aires Province-resident Chiara Sacchi, 16, launching legal action against the Argentine government.

They are part of a growing awakening. Earlier this year, the Times reported how more than 25 civil society organisations, based across several provinces, have now joined forces to form a new climate alliance.

However, despite growing mobilisation and awareness, COP25 – the climate summit in Madrid this month – barely squeezed out compromises from countries over a global warming battle plan that fell well short of what science says is needed to tackle the climate crisis

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