COP 26 and Climate Injustice
COP 26 turned out to be another disappointing show of climate politics. COP 26 in a nutshell — spent 2 weeks talking, only to end the summit with a disagreement. No one really expected much from the fancy summit anyways, though it proved itself to be a flop. After 2 weeks of negotiations, the UN conference achieved nothing. On the paper? Maybe, but for a world which has a climate crisis spiraling down the speed of flash, are the agreements any substantial?
The summit took place to come down to an agreement which made sure that global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees by 2030, which couldn’t happen because world leaders, especially that of the developed countries, held back. And so when it came down to play the blame game the developed world was quick to pin it down on countries like India and China.
Alok Sharma, a British lawmaker who was responsible for negotiating the final agreement said he was “deeply frustrated” by India and China. Western media and publications went on ahead and published heavily propagated headlines like these — “Alok Sharma in tears as India and China dilute pledge to phase out coal”.
But why did India and China refuse to “phase out” coal? The pact negotiated at COP 26 was called the “Glasgow deal”. This deal asked 197 countries for a very specific commitment. What was the commitment? End the use of coal. India and China, for obvious reasons, opposed this. They asked the committee to replace the term “phase out” with “phase down”. Which in a nutshell means, they would use less coal but not completely stop using it.
But why is the developing world painted as climate villains? The real set back to climate policies and climate change reforms starts with the developed world.
Rich countries promised to fund the transition to clean energy, but they are not putting in the money allotted to be given to developing countries, in fact the data shows the contribution is far from it. Rich countries brought about climate change, now they want to end it but they don’t want to be held accountable and pay for it. They want the developing world to compromise with their development goals and foot the bill, and that is the crux of the problem. Who will compensate?
At COP 15, the rich countries took a pledge. They promised to provide $100-Billion every year to create a sort of climate aid fund. They made the promise 12 years ago, to help the world transit towards cleaner sources of energy. It’s 2021 now and forget about paying $100 billion every year, rich countries didn’t even pay their own share.
Of the $100 Billion, the United States was supposed to contribute 40–47%. During 2016 to 2018 it only paid $7.6 Billion. That isn’t even close to what it was supposed to pay in a year.
By 2018 Australia had paid less than $1Bn, Canada gave $1.5Bn, Italy provided $2.3Bn and the United Kingdom paid $4Bn.
These contributions stand way less than what they were supposed to. India alone needs one trillion dollars for climate finance, Africa needs $1.3 trillion. The gap between the funds provided by the rich countries and the needs of the developing world is huge. The developing world needs trillions of dollars to fight climate change but the developed world offers $100 Billion and doesn’t even pay that. Not to forget that these are the historical causes of climate change and some of them still remain to be highest emitters.
Australia for instance has the highest per capita emissions in the whole world. An average Australian emits 5 times more carbon from coal than any other person in the world. The United States has the 4th highest per capita coal emissions in the G20. An average person living in the states emits 3 times more coal than any other person in the world.
It’s only been a couple of days since Joe Biden made a promise to “lead by example” in tackling climate change. The Biden administration has leased millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling. This lease has the potential to emit more than 516 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere- the equivalent to annual emissions of 130 coal fired power plants or 112 million cars according to the center of biological diversity, an NGO based in Arizona, US.
33 companies participated in the sale. The firms will pay a total of nearly $192 Million to drill in the water, in addition to the royalties for what they extract.
Earlier this month Joe Biden in the COP summit said “ I know it hasn’t been the case.. Our administration is working overtime to show that our climate commitment is action, not words.”
This is climate hypocrisy. Pushing unrealistic goals on the developing world and not doing their own part, essentially climate funding and cutting down on carbon emissions is rather something that Alok Sharma should be disappointed about. This is the epitome of hypocrisy and it’s high time now that the world leaders of the developed countries do their part; net zero by 2050, after all.