Science, politics and economics have long guided the debate on climate change. But discussions are now also being steered towards ethical and religious dimensions—both of which have unique roles in dealing with this environmental crisis. The United Nations’ Secretary General recently called for “accountability, responsibility and leadership” to end climate change. Conversations are now shifting to a value discussion about objectives, framing the decisions that need to be made by national leaders and the international community.
The clock is ticking. The world needs to limit global temperature rise to just 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels, reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45% from 2010 levels, by the year 2030.
Pressingly, 2019 was recorded as the second warmest in the 140-year record of modern temperatures and average temperatures in Southeast Asia have risen every decade since 1960. According to the Global Climate Index compiled by the NGO Germanwatch, countries such as Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand are among those most affected by climate change in the past 20 years. Coastlines in the region stretching from Myanmar to Indonesia are most threatened by rising ocean levels as Asia is home to the biggest populations at risk of flooding.
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