Getting Our Priorities Right

It is high time to end the toxic culture of spending largesse and freebies at public expense the country can ill afford

By Mrinal Roy

The world is still reeling from the dire impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. After two years of battling the pandemic, economic recovery has been hobbled by the adverse fallout of six months of war in Ukraine on energy and food prices and rising inflation which is eroding the purchasing power of citizens and exacerbating the existential difficulties and distress of people across the world.

 As a consequence of the senseless war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed, the annual inflation in the Euro area rose to a record high of 8.9% in July 2022. In the UK, prices are rising faster than in the last 40 years. Energy bills which have risen rapidly because of high oil and gas prices are expected to drive inflation to 13.3% in October and is forecast to hit 18% in early 2023. This is unprecedented. Similarly, US inflation fuelled by gasoline costs and rising food prices due to the war has also risen to a new 40-year high of 9.1% in June 2022 before falling to 8.5% in July, below market forecasts of 8.7%.

Climate change mayhem

To crown it all, a series of extreme weather events are wreaking havoc across the world and reminding world leaders and people at large of an impending climate change catastrophe if the world does not urgently take the bold actions required to save the planet for the young and future generations.

Since the beginning of the year, destructive floods and landslides have caused widespread damage, displaced people and caused death in inter alia Philippines, China, Australia, United States Cameroon, India and Pakistan. After hailstones the size of golf balls smashed roofs, damaged cars and flattened vines and crops across diverse regions of France for the third time this year, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy other EU counties as well as Morocco, Canada, the US and Argentina have registered record high temperatures and wildfires which have destroyed thousands of hectares of forests and caused the evacuation of thousands of people.

Heat waves and droughts have significantly reduced water levels in major rivers and waterways such as the Rhine, Loire and Po which have been reduced to a trickle in places. This has disrupted river trade and transport. The drought in Europe is the worst in 500 years. China is also facing its worst drought on record. It has caused the Yangtze River to dry up, sparking a shortage of hydropower.

Courting disaster

How long will the world leaders remain blind to these crying signs of an impending climate change disaster? The upshot is that there is a pervasive apprehension that world leaders and polluting countries are not doing enough to honour the commitments made at the COP26 climate summit held in Glasgow from Oct 31 to Nov 12, 2021. We should remember that current COP26 commitments were inadequate to keep temperature rises within 1.5C, which scientists say is required to prevent a climate catastrophe. There was also an explicit undertaking to drastically reduce the use of coal, which is responsible for 40% of annual CO2 emissions. World leaders had therefore agreed to pledge further cuts to emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) to keep temperature rises within 1.5C. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 26 August 2022

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