Climate conference: Rich nations must take blame and aid the poor

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Climate conference: Rich nations must take blame and aid the poor

The US and Europe together are the single biggest contributor to global warming. They should bear moral responsibility and compensate for the suffering of the poor countries on this front.

It is assuring to learn that at the ongoing UN climate conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, participating countries have agreed to discuss what the industrialised nations ought to do to compensate for the continued suffering of the poor nations on account of the former’s greenhouse emissions.

Observers say there has been a near consensus across the international public spectrum that humans are mainly to blame for rising temperatures on our planet. Climate needs to be taken care of urgently. Or else, the consequent floods, droughts, cyclones and rising of sea levels would continue to devastate the nations of the world.

To save climate, the famous Paris Agreement came forward with a goal of limiting the increase in temperature to 1.5°C by 2100. But the world has moved little towards this target so far. Wealthier nations are mainly responsible for this predicament. They happen to be the biggest cumulative polluters in the world today. The United States and Europe together have thus far accounted for over 58 per cent of CO2 emissions, the single biggest contributor to global warming. They should bear moral responsibility for it and compensate for the suffering of the poor and vulnerable countries on this front. However, they have hardly cared for this so far.

In 2010, the developed countries agreed to jointly mobilise $100 billion per year for developing countries by 2020 to promote climate mitigation. They managed to mobilise only $83.3 billion through all climate finance routes by 2020. At COP26 in Glasgow last year, high-income nations blocked a proposal to establish a loss and damage financing body. They supported instead a dialogue for funding discussions.

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One hopes the Sharm El-Sheikh conference would lead to some kind of a rational mechanism to support those countries which have to face the impacts of climate change due to historical emissions of the rich nations.

It is heartening to note that India is trying its best to see to it that there is real progress in the matter. Our environment minister Bhupender Yadav has reportedly assured that India will contribute effectively for devising a mechanism in the interest of developing countries. He has said, “India looks forward to substantial progress in the discussions related to climate finance. We also look forward to the introduction of new technologies, and new collaborations to facilitate technology transfers.”

It is high time the wealthier nations reached out to the poor ones. It is estimated that developing countries could suffer between $290 billion to $580 billion in annual climate damages by 2030. The United States, arguably still the most powerful nation in the contemporary world, must take fresh initiatives to help the poor countries shift to cleaner energy. Regrettably, its response has not been up to the mark. Last year, Senate Democrats sought $3.1 billion in climate finance. But they could secure just $1 billion. The Republicans in the United States have largely been opposed to climate aid.

(Jagdish N. Singh is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. He is also Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, New York)

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