heatwave calgary canada
A young boy runs through a fountain at a splash park trying to beat the heat in Calgary, Alberta, Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Image Credit: AP

The admission by scientists that the crippling heat that scorched western Canada and the US at the end of last month was “virtually impossible” without climate change, is yet another warning that global warming is for real and happening around the world at a speed that has shocked even the scientific community. ف

On June 29, Lytton in British Columbia set Canada’s record for hottest temperature ever 49.6C — and the next day a devastating wildfire forced the entire town to evacuate. Across vast swathes of the Pacific Northwest in Canada and the US, the heat wave has led to the loss of dozens of lives and stretched first responders thin at a time when they were already busy with the coronavirus pandemic.

An international team of 27 climate researchers who are part of the World Weather Attribution network managed to analyse the data from Lytton in just eight days. In their study, the team found that the deadly heatwave was a one-in-a-1,000-year event — the surest and deadliest validation yet that climate change kills.

According to their findings, such an event would have been at least 150 times rarer in the past — since without the additional human-induced greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such an event just does not occur. While climate researchers have grown used to heatwaves breaking global records in recent years, beating the previous national high temperature mark by more than 4C in successive days — as it happened in Lytton last week — is unprecedented.

With global heating due to burning fossil fuels driving up temperatures faster than models predict, it is now time for the international community to put mitigation of climate change and advancement of cleaner energy sources on top of their action list.

A significant platform in this regard is the annual Conference of Parties (COP) — the global decision-making body responsible for monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This year’s COP-26 in Glasgow should therefore commit to tangible progress in battling climate change.

The UAE — which has demonstrated a proven track record in progressive climate action and multilateral cooperation — has rightly sought to host COP-28 in 2023. With investments of around $17 billion in renewable energy projects on six continents and provision of more than $1 billion of grants and soft loans for renewable energy power plants, the UAE has clearly set an example for other nations to follow on green energy and tackling global warming.

World over, the time for complacency, denial and dithering over climate change is now over — it’s time to save lives with coordinated and sustained global action for the sake of planet Earth.