by Stephanie Parker
UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- A UN official has placed an urgent call for the international community to "pay much closer attention" to protect the Earth from the damaging effects of climate change, saying that "there is no planet B."
"We need to pay much closer attention to climate change and environmental sustainability because we have only this one planet, " Olav Kjorven, a senior official from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said in a recent interview with Xinhua. "There is no planet B, certainly, at least we have not found it."
Kjorven is the special advisor to the UNDP administrator, Helen Clark, on the Post-2015 Development Agenda in the Bureau of Development Policy. The year 2015 is the deadline for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight anti- poverty targets.
"If we wreck this planet, we have no other place to go," he said while explaining rapid population growth and global expansion as two major causes for damage on the Earth. "The truth is that over the last many decades through rapid economic development, expansion and rapid growth of the human population, we have started to put more and more pressure on environmental systems and natural resources."
The special advisor pointed to the high levels of global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and increased human activities that serve as a primary source of the emissions.
There has been almost a 50 percent increase in global emissions of CO2 in the past more than two decades, data provided by the UNDP showed.
"If we do not find a way to shift from fossil fuel meaning coal, diesel, and so on into more clean energy sources that trespass these planetary boundaries, we will find ourselves at the end of this century living in a world we can barely recognize," he said. "I think the climate change challenge is so much at the heart of what we are now seeing, the whole spectrum of environmental challenges."
The special advisor also disclosed concrete strategies that are being implemented in countries across the world to reverse the destruction to the planet.
CHINA AS AN EXAMPLE
Some nations are now showing growing understanding and awareness over the impact of climate change.
"You can see many countries taking more action today than just a few years ago to address and start adopting and investing more in renewable energy and so on," Kjorven said. "There is a lot of action happening and leadership."
He cited China as a good example in making active efforts to combat challenges in this regard.
"China is a country doing the most (in terms of) putting in place policies in shifting the economy to a low carbon trajectory, " he said, adding that China is one of the top global frontrunners working toward decreasing their carbon footprint.
In China, the element of decreasing carbon is happening as the economy is growing rapidly along with the emissions, according to the special advisor.
The economics of coal as a fuel for the power sector continue to be much more favorable than alternatives as coal is cheaper, said Kjorven. "But that whole equation is starting to change as we are starting to see."
"As the investments are speeding up when it comes to solar, the same is true for wind as well as hydroelectric power which has been competitive for some time," said Kjorven, referring to positive changes taking place in China.
He also mentioned Germany and Sweden as two other examples of countries working on reducing their CO2 emissions. Both nations are setting goals to be carbon free in the next 20 years.
"I could mention Germany and Sweden. Both have very strong new policy frameworks to move towards a clean and low carbon economy," he said.