Scientists who took part in the recent UN conference on climate change, held in Bonn, have warned that global carbon dioxide emissions are expected to increase in 2017, for the first time in the past four years. The main cause for the increase, estimated at around 2%, is China’s more extensive use of coal. Adding to this is the fact that draught triggered a decrease in water levels, hence a decrease in the hydropower production. Experts say that the US, where coal use has increased for the first time in five years due to a higher price of natural gas, and also the EU have done worse in 2017 as compared with previous years. The increase comes after three years of steady global emissions levels, which followed a decade of increases of carbon dioxide emissions by 3% per year.
Closely linked to carbon dioxide emissions, higher temperatures are also a notable problem. According to a report made public by the World Meteorological Organization in the opening of the Bonn conference, 2017 will probably go down as one of the hottest years in history. Statistical data shows that the past ten years have seen the highest temperatures in the history of international scientific measurements, while the number of natural disasters is five times higher than 40 years ago.
Such bad news puts pressure on the international community, with countries forced to work together to curb emissions if climate change is to be tempered down. Professor Mircea Dutu, head of the Ecological University in Bucharest, has explained what climate change is about:
Mircea Dutu: “Climate change is seen as the direct or indirect result of human activity that alters the composition of the atmosphere at global level, and which adds to the natural variations of the climate monitored during comparable periods. We must distinguish between climate change and natural variability. The latter means that there are changes generated by the normal, natural evolution, such as solar activity, the activity of the poles and so on. But when we talk about climate change we mean the changes triggered by human activity. What does this mean? It means that, as a result of emissions such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapors and so on, the greenhouse effect, which is a natural phenomenon without which the surface of the earth might have an average temperature of minus 18 degrees Celsius, making life on Earth impossible, is amplified by pollution. And climate change occurs.”
The only solution to fight global warming is a common action plan. The head of the Climatology Section with the National Meteorology Agency, Roxana Bojariu, tells us how such a common plan could be implemented:
Roxana Bojariu: “I would say it is not easy, but it is possible and it is vital to curb emissions. We talk about buying more time, because we are already experiencing these changes – 2017 is one of the hottest years, probably the third hottest year in history, and we have broken records after records not only in terms of gradual warming at global level, but also in terms of extreme phenomena. Global agreements to cut gas emissions help us buy some time and learn to adjust and keep things under control. Otherwise, if the pace of these changes picks up, with emissions that exceed what we’ve planed, we might find ourselves unable to keep up with this change, which is very quick as it is, compared to the geological past of the Earth. Practically, in around 200 years we could see an increase in temperature by several degrees Celsius, which is the increase we had in the over 10,000 years between the Ice Age and the inter-glacial period. We are out of the geological scale and we must go back to it, by curbing emissions.”
The good news is that the level of emissions has remained unchanged in recent years, which shows that we can achieve economic development even with a low level of emissions. The issue of climate change is also relevant when it comes to people’s health.
Mircea Dutu: “A report published on 31st October 2017 by the World Health Organisation shows that climate change already has a visible impact on health. Heat waves cause thermal stress and aggravate heart failure, while also increasing the risk of kidney failure as a result of dehydration. The report concludes that the symptoms caused by the rise in average temperatures and the multiplication of extreme weather phenomena have been visible for several years and their impact on health is much more severe than previously thought.”
The conference in Bonn is the first major meeting on climate change after US president Donald Trump announced plans to pull his country out of the Paris Agreement.
(translated by: Elena Enache, Cristina Mateescu)