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ANALYSIS

George Berbari

Global action needed to fight climate change: study

DUBAI, August 22, 2017

By George Berbari

Climate change is real. Global warming is real and is happening and the effects are going to be catastrophic.

A new research suggests that parts of South Asia, which is home to one fifth of the world’s population, will, in less than 100 years, become too hot for human habitation without adequate protection from deadly heatwaves. This just emphasises the critical crossroads the world now finds itself at if we are to do something to reverse the direction the planet is heading to.

In my recently published book ‘The Energy Budget’, I referred to global warming as the “biggest failure of the human race”. Collectively we have, over the course of the past century, consumed and wasted precious energy without a thought for what our actions mean for the future.

The latest research, published on Science Advances, points to rising temperatures and humidity in densely populated agricultural areas of the Ganges and Indus river basins soaring to levels that far exceed human survivability levels. We’ve already seen the signs; in 2015 a deadly heat wave that gripped large parts of India and Pakistan claimed more than 3,500 lives.

Studies such as this one are vitally important to keep the issue in the spotlight and highlight the need for urgent action. During the course of my 31 years in the engineering industry I have carried out extensive work and pioneered many new technologies. My goal has always been to improve efficiency in energy use and protect our precious environment, but my efforts and the collective efforts of all environmentalists worldwide are still not sufficient to stop global warming.

The Paris Agreement on climate change, an agreement of 195 nations signed in December 2015 that binds individual countries to a collective global goal of combating global warming, is a start but we must do more. The commitment of the countries to cut CO2 emissions by 2030 is a positive step, yet it still gives nations such as China, the world’s biggest emitter of CO2 emissions, the capability to do what it wants for the next 13 years.

That being said, renewable energy is picking up worldwide. China is, publicly at least, being seen to be acting as the world’s biggest investor in green technology solutions. And despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw his country from the agreement, the number of Americans employed in renewable-energy and jobs centred around sustainability is increasing year-on-year.

Steps are being taken as the world awakes to the issue of climate change. However, the real problem the world must face up to if it wants a greener earth is that energy remains decidedly cheap. Energy is abundant and valuable but it should not be provided at a low cost because the traditional fossil fuel methods of creating and burning energy have an undisputed negative impact on our planet.

Humans have been entrusted with the responsibility of looking after this beautiful planet, but it shouldn’t be left to politicians to decide the best course of action. The complexity of energy creation and usage should prevent anyone other than highly-qualified experts in the domain to make decisions on the subject.

In ‘The Energy Budget’ I propose a structured formal plan whereby every country, city, town and factory will abide to a specific energy budget. That budget would not be set by politicians but by independently-elected or appointed energy governors - similar to a Central Bank Governor - which is then cascaded to every home, commercial building, factory and transportation body within a country’s borders.

With this framework there should be a system to reward efficiency by providing lower rates for efficient users and producers; inefficiency would be penalised with higher rates. Unless taxed, this system wouldn’t be a revenue generator for a country’s economy. What it would do is benefit the whole population as penalties would be used as a self-financing mechanism by each country or city to fund district energy in existing buildings and factories, as well as new research into the use of renewables, hydrogen and bio fuels.


George Berbari, CEO of UAE-based DC PRO Engineering, an electromechanical consultancy firm specialising in district energy services and green buildings MEP design.

Berbari is a recognised regional leader in sustainability and author of ‘The Energy Budget’.




Tags: climate change |

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