A few degrees doesn’t really make a difference… right?

Jun 29, 2016

Temperatures around the world are rising.

The average increase globally stands at 0.850C but in Armenia, that figure is higher still – 1.10C.

Rainfall and other precipitation have also gone down in Armenia by 10% between 1935 and 2012.

According to a study by the World Bank, Armenia, out of 28 countries in Europe and Central Asia, is the fourth most likely to experience an increase in extreme weather conditions. Out of the same group, it is the fifth most sensitive country to climate change.

Take a look at some of these facts:

  • An astonishing 98 percent of the entire territory of Armenia is now at risk of drought and 31% of the country is at risk of flooding.
  • Almost 80 percent of land show signs of desertification.
  • Landslides currently occur in over 4 percent of Armenia, yet about 35 percent of the population live on landslide-prone areas.
  • In recent years, spring frost cases have increased dramatically, harming agricultural output. The entire geography of the country is expected to change drastically with agro-climatic zones – with fertile farming land shifting 100 meters upward by 2030, and 200-400 meters by 2100.

Many of the country’s rarest species of fauna and flora are also predicted to disappear. Indeed, some already have.

As Armenia’s focal point to the UN Climate Change Convention, Dr. Aram Gabrielyan recently said, if no action is taken to combat these changes, “desert zones will spread and Armenia’s rich landscapes will come to resemble something closer to the dry plateaus found in Iran”.

Economically speaking, the country suffers an average annual damage of US$ 28 million due to climate change related disasters.

The agricultural sector employs around 36 percent of the population and generates up to 20 percent of GDP in Armenia. Such vulnerabilities are likely to ripple outwards and damage our country’s wider economic and social development further aggravated with having diverse impact on women and men.

As always, it will be the poor who suffer most.

The sad fact is that it’s too late to stop most of these changes. But what we can do is prepare ourselves for the future and stop things from getting even worse.

A recent gathering of the world’s governments in Paris tried to do just that. Countries from all around the world, including Armenia, pledged to take action to limit an increase of temperatures to under 2oC – the minimum below which the effects of climate change are manageable.

In practice, this means using water-saving technologies, planting drought and flood resistant species, setting up early warning systems, anti-hail networks, passive solar and energy efficient greenhouses, drip irrigation systems, and using new cattle breeding techniques, as well as investing in more renewable energy and energy efficient technologies.

Armenia is now working to fulfill its promise. The government, supported by our office – UNDP in Armenia – and a range of other international organizations, is working to increase the forest cover of Armenia to 20.1 percent by 2100, instead of the current 11 percent.

This is only one of the many proposed interventions. By 2050, Armenia is aiming to reach the golden target of zero emissions – meaning the country will only emit as much as it can absorb.

Ultimately, though, tackling climate change is not simply the job of the government.

In order to truly make a difference, each one of us needs to step up.

Simple actions like walking or cycling short distances rather than driving, planting trees and cutting down on paper, using natural light as much as possible, using energy saving bulbs at night, unplugging any device that isn’t being used, choosing energy-saving devices, using recyclable packaging, buying locally-produced products: these can make a huge difference at the collective level.

Only when we all work together can we guarantee a better future for our children.

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