America has recently been in the grip of a series of weather extremes such as severe cyclone and searing cold, which many believe are tell-tale signs of climate change. Metro spoke to climate change expert David Waskow, the director of World Resource Institute’s Climate Action Signature Initiative, who is in town as part of the US state department’s Speaker Program Series. The Initiative is focused on international cooperation that catalyses and supports action on climate change.
Metro: In recent times, America has had to weather a number of extreme weather events. Do you think such events have influenced the mindset of Americans, and in turn American politicians and government?
Waskow: One event, in itself, may not establish climate change but when such events occur in a consistent manner, like what happened in the US, with the likes of Hurricane Sandy or the ongoing drought in California, the trend becomes a kind of proof to climate change. Hence it’s a fact that globally and also in the US, public opinion has become more pro-climate change, which is influencing public policy.... The President has announced the country’s climate action plan.
Metro: Let’s come to the issue of climate liability of developed countries towards global climate change and responsibility to support poorer countries. The US seems to feel that formalisation of it will open a Pandora’s box.
Waskow: To me more important is what’s going to happen 30 or 40 years down the line. What is going to happen to all these coastal cities? We need to work on the funding mechanism, not only now but 30 or 40 years down the line.
Metro: But think about the Sunderbans. People living there contribute almost nothing to climate change but the entire eco-system has been devastated a number of times.
Waskow: It’s a very different call. There should be a global effort in case of the Sunderbans, not only to save it from the present impact of climate change but for the island and its ecosystem to survive decades beyond.