The Climate Crisis is here. How to accelerate climate actions in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
01 October 2021
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Ambassadors of the United Kingdom and Italy reflect on the latest IPCC report and country’s resilience to climate change.
July 2021 was the hottest month in the world’s recorded history. Sarajevo experienced its hottest ever recorded July day on 28th July. A week later a small town in Sicily hit the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe at 48.8 °C. This same summer, floods devastated cities across Germany, Austria and Turkey, while fires ravaged Turkey and Greece, as well as causing severe damage in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Climate Crisis is here. Extreme weather events are increasingly the norm and severe fluctuations in rainfall and temperature across and within seasons is disrupting many areas of economic and social activity, as we recently saw in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the unseasonably warm month of February.
The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in August this year is clear - “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land”.
United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres has described the IPCC report as ‘a code red for humanity’. The report is a stark warning that the world is approaching a climate tipping point faster than predicted, and that some changes are now irreversible.
The message is simple: we have either not heard or not listened to past warnings, and now humanity faces a climate catastrophe. Under the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, world leaders agreed to actions that would keep global warming at 1.5°C. The world is already at 1.2 °C.
In November, the United Kingdom will host COP26 event in Glasgow, as the 26th meeting of the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Together we will push for greater ambition from all parties on emissions reductions, access to more green finance, financial policies that enable and encourage green transition, and greater focus on adaptation and resilience to the effects of climate change. Only by securing ambitious commitments in all these areas will 1.5°C stay within reach.
For Bosnia and Herzegovina the climate crisis will have a devastating impact on the water and forest resources, agriculture and food production, and on people. Despite some progress in disaster risk reduction and preparedness, we’ve seen severe gaps in the immediate response to floods and fires this year, which often left towns and cities to manage the crisis by themselves.
Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the first countries in the Western Balkans to submit new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) this year – the national emissions reduction commitments legally mandated under the Paris Agreement. BiH has committed to a reduction of emissions by over one-third by 2030 and almost two-thirds by 2050 compared to emission levels in 1990. These commitments offer a framework for green investment and policy that can place social and economic transformation at the heart of the country’s recovery from COVID. It is a positive step, but there is much more to do, especially on the transition away from coal.
The transition to a greener economy is an important opportunity to create new, green jobs and improve energy efficiency. Bosnia and Herzegovina is well-placed to exploit solar, wind and other renewable energy sources as these technologies are becoming more accessible and affordable than ever before – and in many markets already cheaper than new coal investments. Businesses can reduce their carbon footprint while benefiting from increased productivity and reduced costs. Some businesses are already doing so.
Most importantly, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s young people are seized with this issue, and are ready to take action. Milos Kovacevic and Merima Hrapovic, the two delegates the country is sending to a pre-COP Youth Summit in Italy, Youth4Climate: driving ambition, are full of ideas on how young people can work to preserve the environment, clean up the cities and streets, and reduce pollution. That potential should be harvested for a greener future.
It is indisputable that human influence is warming the world at an unprecedented rate. Yet, human influence can also prevent and mitigate the impact of runaway changes, as economies and societies adapt. Each of us has a role to play in the fight for cleaner air, water, soil and a sustainable future. Now is the time, because tomorrow will be too late.