On 11th November, the Former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, gave a very informative speech at one of the side events at COP23 (Bonn), held this year under Fiji’s presidency. He started the panel by asking following questions: Do we need to change? Can we change and will we?
Answering to the first question, he noted how this has been the hottest non-El-Niño year in history. Europe experienced a “red alert” in temperatures reaching 43°, while Australia reached 47.5°. Middle East marked 54°, aggravating already difficult living conditions. It is not only the heat that is disturbing but also other extreme weather conditions like floods, droughts, tornadoes. All of them have direct effects on human life and the economy. Some examples of the impact they had in the last months follow.When we are writing, 83% of Puerto Rico has still no electricity has the result of a hurricane. The devastation that hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria brought costed $350 Billions in the USA. It is thus important to keep in mind that health and political implications of climate change-related catastrophes affect not only fast urbanising countries but also developed ones.
There is a need to start a global sustainability revolution and to raise countries’ commitments. Globally, $5.3 trillion are invested to subsidize fossil fuels while only 150 billion are invested in the renewable energy sector. This means that around 30 times more funds are given to the destruction of our planet. The good news is that we have solutions at hand, as renewable energies are the cheapest (wind is first line) and we have chosen them.
One of the points he addressed refers to the lack of attention that the international community has payed to the political consequences of the climate crises. And he referred to two specific cases that are interesting to highlight. The first is Syria, the last country that decided to sign the Paris agreement, and in which the drought has killed 83% of livestock and turned 65% of fertile land in infertile. This situation forced 1.500 Syrians to migrate during the period from 2006 to 2010. Another case in Brexit, where the issue of refugees has been one of the breakpoints that led to that decision.
Nisreen Al Sayeem, a 21-year-old woman who is part of the Sudan delegation, shared with us the history of the Darfur conflict. In Darfur, because of changing rainfall patterns, the agricultural activity was affected and with that the breeding of camels, which generated more violence between the various communities. The government, at that time, decided to buy more camels to appease the confrontation instead of having a broader and long-term perspective on the conflict. Today Nisreen is willing to change her country as a young negotiator of her delegation; she studies Physics and Political Science, with the aim of reducing the gap between science and politics and thus achieve a broader perspective and contribute with solution to the climate crisis.