Wed 22-03-2017 19:48 PM
SHARJAH, 22nd March, 2017 (WAM)-- H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has attended a panel discussion with Al Gore, former US Vice President and founder-chairman of the Climate Reality Project, as part of the sixth International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017), being held at the Expo Centre Sharjah.
Titled ‘Climate Change Are there Real Solutions?’ the lively panel discussion was moderated by Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Executive Chairman of the Department of Government Relations in Sharjah. The discussion explored the role of governments in educating society on the existential threat of climate change and raising awareness of sustainable climate changing solutions.
Disturbing numbers pertaining to environmental degradation continue to sound alarm bells across the globe at regular intervals. The World Bank, in collaboration with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, published a report in September 2016 stating that air pollution costs the world economy over US$225 billion a year due to employee absences from work and the accrued costs of healthcare. The report also noted that an astounding 5.5 million deaths in 2013 were the direct result of air pollution.
Al Gore said, "The climate crisis is very different from any crisis we have ever confronted before. The population has quadrupled, and as technologies continue to become more powerful, the prevailing pattern of short-term thinking does not provide an impetus to make the investments in long-term infrastructure changes that are needed to achieve sustainable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions."
Doomsday projections related to the environment continue unabated. The one silver lining to emerge from such data is perhaps the fact that people are increasingly questioning what they can do to mitigate the conscious as well as the inadvertent environmental impact triggered by human actions.
Hurdles still exist. Convincing the public to change their habits and lifestyles to help reduce global warming and prevent even worse consequences than those already happening is yet another challenge for governance, emphasised the former US Vice President.
Referencing a survey by Pew Research Centre, Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi noted that while two-thirds of people surveyed believe major lifestyle changes will be needed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, awareness of the solutions that are readily available is still low.
In response, Al Gore said, "Some of the conversation has been dominated by inaccurate information. We cannot afford to allow science and reason to be undermined. Governments are in denial and we cannot continue to let political disagreements impair collective efforts to protect the environment."
Praising the UAE leadership’s focus on renewable energy, he added that the country’s efforts should be replicated elsewhere. In addition, he expressed hope that governments will develop a solid consensus in the pursuit of environmental goals by highlighting the evidence that is widely available and the consequences that are already occurring.
In closing, Al Gore said, "We see these catastrophes. Connect the dots and make it clear what the causes are. There are three questions about the climate crisis that we must ask ourselves: Must we change? Can we change? Will we change? The will to change in itself is a renewable resource."
Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, the sixth International Government Communication Forum (IGCF 2017) runs from 22nd to 23rd March at Expo Centre Sharjah. Themed ‘Societal Participation Comprehensive Development’, IGCF 2017 examines how nations around the world can leverage effective government communication to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that have become the top priority of government programmes, international institutions, media organisations and civil society.
Offering a transparent platform to examine current issues and formulate recommendations to help governments optimise the impact of their communication, IGCF 2017 convenes more than 2,500 local and international personalities from the ranks of government officials, experts, thought leaders, and government communication professionals. WAM/Majok