While the EU, the US and the UK have been preoccupied with the Ukraine war, and its threats of nuclear terrorism and attendant cost of living crisis, many seem to have missed another major geopolitical change in this past year…While poor countries struggle with debt mountains, rich countries have so far failed to fulfil the promise made in 2009 to provide $100bn (£84bn) a year in climate finance by 2020.
Vaccines, debt, an energy crisis they did not cause, sharp rises in the price of food, western hypocrisy in expanding fossil fuels while calling on developing countries not to – before Cop27 started, these were already a combustible mix.
Developed countries, according to Bernice Lee, director for futures at the Chatham House thinktank, failed to understand this new dynamic, and the sense of anger that animated poor nations at Cop27. “The G7 can seem tone-deaf,” she said.
What this all meant, according to one highly placed person in the negotiations, was that when developed countries sought support for their aims on keeping 1.5C alive, they found it lacking. They said the UK, EU and others had failed to understand that the issues of loss and damage, and the 1.5C goal, were connected. “They didn’t understand that if they wanted their desires to be reflected in the text, they needed to listen to what other countries were saying, to what their demands were,” said the source. “They didn’t listen.”
The deal that was finally struck on loss and damage may provide a basis for the rich countries to better understand the concerns of the poor in future. They will have to work together on setting up the fund over the next year, and on filling it with the cash needed for the disasters countries are experiencing.
This still leaves the question of what to do about China. Developed countries as a bloc are still in the top five emitters, taking historical responsibility into account, but individually they are eclipsed by rapidly growing emerging economies, such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other petrostates, according to Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House climate adviser, now with the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington DC.
“This Cop was something of a failure, because it completely let the world’s biggest emitter, China, off the hook,” he said. “Global emissions can’t fall until China’s emissions fall. This is the key to climate protection.”
Pacific state needs billions for its ambitious plan – its president demands wealthy nations act to help now
Developing countries vulnerable to the worst ravages of global heating have spent the past week at United Nations climate talks urging more support from wealthy nations. The Pacific state of Kiribati has a very specific and unusual demand – that its islands be physically raised up to escape the encroaching seas.
Kiribati (pronounced Ki-ri-bahss, a local translation of “Gilberts”, its name under British colonial rule) is comprised of 33 coral atolls scattered across a huge expanse of ocean in the central Pacific ocean, between Hawaii and Australia. It covers more than 1.3m sq miles, making it one of the world’s largest nations when sea area is included, but is one of the smallest in terms of land, with most of its 120,000 population crammed into the narrow outcrops that make up Tarawa, its capital.
No part of Kiribati’s land rises more than two metres above the ocean, making it one of the most vulnerable places in the world to the sea level rise being driven by global heating. Several small islands have already been inundated by water, with parts of others eroded by the advancing tides. Intruding salt water threatens the ability to grow crops and risks the fresh groundwater that sits upon the porous reefs that form the basis of the islands.
You can imagine the tension—the anger—that comes from watching your part of the world dry up or flood, knowing that the countries whose pollution caused your problems also have enough dollars to repair the damage…COP27 is one more reminder, however, that justice only proceeds, fitfully, through politics. Rebalancing the world’s wealth, even a little, is the trickiest of political tasks. Yet our chances for a livable world may depend on it.
In an urgent and beautifully composed call to action in the format of an “A to Z” narrative accompanied by bold illustrations by Wesley Allsbrook, Elizabeth Kolbert mixes serious informative facts with a dash of wry humor to acknowledge our collective failure to adequately address our climate crisis while offering some possible tools to help us try harder and do better.
Advertising is an incredibly powerful tool for convincing us to buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like. Last year the United States spent nearly $300 billion on advertising, and now that we are only about six weeks from Christmas, we can expect to be inundated with ads […]