Is a 40 to 70 per cent decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission by 2050, which would help limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, possible?

Yes, but it is not simply about calculating numbers and waiting, wishing, that they actualise. Action ought to be taken quickly and collectively, but without compromising a credible plan.

Failure to reach the 2°C less threshold can and will cause super droughts, extreme heatwaves, insect outbreaks, mega floods, deadly storms, rise in sea levels, food insecurities, and animal and plant extinctions.

In Jordan, water scarcity is a major concern that will surely be magnified by climate change.

Decreased rainfall and increased evaporation will cause serious soil degradations and desertification, worsening the situation of the agricultural sector and greatly affecting low-income families.

Aiming even for lower than 1.5°C will need rapid action and will require zero anthropogenic GHG emissions sometime between 2030 and 2050.

His Majesty King Abdullah delivered one of the most pressing appeals for actions at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21). He spoke for Jordan, one of the poorest countries in water sources that is witnessing a rapid population growth rate, 3.86 per cent, is struggling to cope with hosting more than 1.4 million refugees and imports more than 95 per cent of its energy.

Lowering emissions in our country will not be the easiest of tasks.

The King said: “…the entire planet is in danger … we must act collectively, with foresight, responsibility and determination.”

So where do we begin?

Developing countries cannot keep claiming that the Western nations were able to radically industrialise using fossil fuels, consequently they have the right to do so as well.

Nor should they criticise climate change agreements, arguing that placing emission restrictions on them will hinder their advancement.

Developing countries, Jordan included, can develop in a sustainable manner, both environmentally and economically, by focusing on a shift to renewable energy. The COP21 conference negotiated an ambition global agreement on the reduction of GHG to mitigate climate change.

But the agreement set a bottom-up system, in which it does not bind countries into reducing GHG emissions by a specified amount.

The agreement calls for an “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution [INDCs]”. Accordingly, it is up to each country to design its carbon-pricing policies and targets, and abide by them, hoping to ultimately meet the global target.

However, countries are not forced to hit their emission-reduction targets. And although the text has been agreed upon, it does not mean all 196 parties approved it.

In addition, the agreement will not become binding until 55 countries that together represent 55 per cent of global GHG emissions, have ratified it.

The agreement calls for the signing meeting in April 2016.

Jordan has voluntarily developed an INDC policy, the first of its kind in the Arab region, which clearly demonstrates our country’s commitment.

Jordan’s INDC states: “Jordan nationally determines to reduce its GHG emissions by a bulk of 14 per cent until 2030”.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol on reducing GHG emissions was sadly never ratified, some countries eventually pulled out and many never met their targets.

Let us hope our moral obligations are stronger this time and each citizen will take a step towards decreasing GHG emissions.

We should not depend solely on our governments to effect change or impose change. We, individuals, will need to want and strive for change.

We must protect the planet that supports us and as citizens of our planet, it is imperative for us to take action.

In Jordan, our energy industries account for 28 per cent of the total GHG emissions, and transport is the second largest contributor at 16 per cent.

The Ministry of Transport launched a long-term national strategy to enhance the total number of commuters using public transportation to 25 per cent by 2025.

As noted in the INDC, the ministry “believes it is important to reduce all emissions from the transport sector”.

In order to do so we, we, Jordanian citizens, need to also step in and aid in mitigating the effects of climate change.

While the Ministry of Transport adopts higher order public transportation systems, our habits need to change as well, by, for example, car-pooling, walking, biking, investing in zero emission electric vehicles, etc.

Furthermore, change can begin by adopting renewable sources of energy at home, specifically solar energy for water heating, raising awareness of all sectors about the long-term financial and environmental benefits of converting to renewable energy, raising awareness and developing a nation-wide system for recycling waste, given that waste contributes to 10 per cent of Jordan’s total GHG emissions, demonstrating the importance of proper food management, by improving food distribution and decreasing food waste, and by coming up with programmes for water collection and conservation, by training citizens how to harvest and save water, and in sanitation methods.

In 2013, 82 per cent of the total primary energy consumed in Jordan came from crude oil and oil derivatives, 11 per cent from natural gas, 4 per cent from petroleum coke and coal, 2 per cent from renewable energy and 1 per cent from imported electricity.

This shows that Jordan is completely reliable on, and vulnerable to, the global energy market.

Adopting renewable energy is economically advantageous. It will also help decrease energy production from oil from 82 per cent to 50 per cent and increase renewable energy use from 2 per cent to 10 per cent by 2020, as indicated in the INDC.

Achieving sustainable development and energy independence depends on a transition to a sustainable energy future.

Let us all collectively work towards a sustainable future. Let us all adopt and implement the strategies and targets provided in the INDC.

The writer has a degree in environment and sustainability. She contributed this article to The Jordan Times.
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