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Date: 2010-08-31 07:36:08

Climate change is the greatest and most crucial challenge facing humanity today. It constitutes a very strong impediment to economic growth, food security and attainment of its millennium development goals.

The challenge of climate change therefore demands concerted commitment across the globe to understand and respect ecosystem integrity.

The issue of climate change has come about because of global warming. As carbon dioxide (C02), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and other forms of air pollution gather in the atmosphere they become like a thickening blanket absorbing the sun’s heat and later causing the planet warm up. Global warming is a complex phenomenon the full-scale impact of which may not be easy to predict far in advance.

What is certain however is that each year scientists learn more about how global warming is affecting the planet and agree that certain consequences are likely to occur if current trends continue. Among these are melting ice in temperature zones and also rising sea levels leading to flooding. Other consequences are warmer  sea surface temperature which fuel more intense hurricanes or strong winds ,emergence of  troublesome new pest and more mosquito-borne diseases in forest and farm areas as well as disruption of natural  habitats which could drive many plants and animals species to extinction.

The contribution of standards towards environmental integrity and by extension to sustainable planet is fundamental. Standards support good environment practice and information on energy efficiency and dissemination of new, eco-friendly and energy performance technologies.Organisation of all types in public and private sectors in the region are also seeking practical tools to enable them manage the impact of their activities on the environmental pressure to improve environmental performance may be legal, through government legislation, market- influenced-customer requirement or internal-more often intended to improve over all efficiency.

 Standards Agencies the world over need to be the forefront to ensure newer and more environmentally-friendly initiatives are supported through the development and the enforcement of the relevant standards.

Climate change in particular and environmental concerns in general have been the focus of the international standardization bodies whose standards have for many years been a primary tool in helping to resolve a number of environmental issues. Apart from providing globally applicable solutions international standards are cost effective and also allow all countries to take advantage of the knowledge and experience gain in other countries.

In addition to environment issues, international standardization bodies offer solutions to problems in social, economic, agricultural technological and trade areas.
The three leading climate change experts have put forward a series of practical solution to tackle climate change. These solutions include the technical  standards published by the World’s three leading international standardization organization, the International  Electro Technical Commission(IEC) the International Organization for Standardization(ISO) and the International Telecommunication Union(ITU).The three global organization in collaboration with other relevant international organizations and for a  such as the international Energy Agency and the World Energy Council are coordinating their work to ensure that government business and society are provided with the necessary tools to help combat global climate change and to support the reduction  in greenhouse gas emissions by increasing energy efficiency while facilitating sustainable development.

Renewable energy and efficient technologies offer the benefit of not only mitigating climate change but also lowering energy cost. Increasing energy efficiency of appliances and equipment in residential, commercial and industrial sectors for example will reduce energy related carbon dioxide emissions.

The World’s forest stores an estimated 4500gigatons of carbon dioxide in their ecosystems an amount larger than all carbon currently found in the atmosphere.
The standards produced by the three organization reach across all sectors identified in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report where mitigation technologies, policies and measures, constraints and opportunities exist, including energy supply transport, buildings, industry, agriculture, forestry and waste. It is important to note out of a total of 18000  ISO standards and related document more than 570 are directly related to environmental subjects including climate. These international standards offer policy makers, industry and users the   common tools they need to work together on tackling climate change.
The three partner organisations also offer a comprehensive system in which nations and the private sectors can participate to establish the priorities for tackling climate change in the years ahead. They offer practical tools for addressing climate change at four levels.

To begin with they monitor climate change and help to assess its nature and effects.
Secondly, they provide an internationally agreed framework for measuring and verifying greenhouse gas emission. For example a tonne of carbon should mean the same to all countries.
Thirdly they promote good practice in environmental management and design. This way they contribute to ensuring that operations are carried out in an environmentally sustainable manner as well as designing environmentally friendly products and services.
The fourth way in which standards address climate change is by making us realize the full potential of energy efficiency measure based on existing technology and good practice. This means that they make people realize the potential of energy efficiency measures propelling the dissemination of knowledge on renewable and carbon –neutral energy sources.
Standards from IEC, ISO and ITU also offer the World’s governments and industry the best possible benchmarks to be referenced in any policy making decision or future climate treaties. In spite of all this, Standards by themselves cannot address environmental concerns including climate change, unless they are seen as useful and applied by all-countries, organization and individuals. All governments must commit themselves to the application of standards and also ensure that individual members of society do the same.
Each and every person can help fight global warming. To do this energy conservation should be made part of our daily routine. Each time we choose a compact fluorescent light bulb over an incandescent bulb for example, we help to lower our energy bill and keep nearly 1600kilograms of carbon dioxide out of the air over the bulbs lifetime.
Similarly, by opting for energy –saving refrigerator that uses 15percent less energy we help to reduce carbon dioxide pollution by nearly a tonne or 1000kilograms over it’s lifetime .To this end a number of organizations and individuals in various parts of the world have recognized the need to measure and manage the carbon footprints of their organizations. A carbon footprints is the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused
 directly and indirectly by an individual organization, event or product. (UK Carbon Trust 2008)

Canada has already adopted a mandatory greenhouse gas reporting programme but only for facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year. The country’s Federal government has indicated that it is concerned about taking the lead in the development of regulations in this regard. Also during the early part of year 2009 the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced a proposed mandatory reporting rule for organizations that emit more than 25000 tonnes of greenhouse gas each year. According to the Director of climate change service, Canadian Standards Association. Michel Grand under the proposed rule up to 40000 facilities will be required to complete a self-assessment in 2010 to determine whether annual mandatory reporting to the EPA is required. Climate change resulting from controllable global warming is seriously threating the earth so it behoves each and every one especially the chemists who has the recipe to these challenges to join hands and fight it with every imaginable commitment or zeal to make the World a safer place for all.

Princess Marline Sambo Waziri, PhD is the Ag- Technical Manager, African Organization for Standardisation (ARSO), Nairobi, Kenya and also a member of ICCON Governing Council

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