COP26: Vulnerable nations are fed up with being the scapegoat

Developing countries labels the COP26 a resounding failure, urging the concerned parties to let go of unrealistic ambitions and make a real change this time.

Flood damage in Manila, Philippines 2012. Photo: AusAID

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, most countries in the world have promised to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in hopes of keeping global temperatures under pre-industrial levels by 1.5 ° C. Unfortunately, there has never been a clear path to getting there.  

Now with the launch of the COP26, United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, governments around the world, poor and rich countries, are pressingly expected to make progress to fight climate crisis.

Vulnrable countries seem to be put in a serious dilemma as they are trapped between poverty and climate change catastrophic effects. They are expected to reduce carbon in the same time as rich countries. However, developing nations, which include India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, all of Africa and China, have a dire need to increase energy production and have few tools to reduce emissions. A new UN report has revealed that the world’s richest countries are responsible for more than twice the emissions of the poorest which showcases that tackling inequality is crucial if we’re speaking climate action. Unsurprisingly, the world is actually on course for a catastrophic 2.4C rise in temperature.

To ask those countries to no longer use fossil fuels while they’re trying to grow their economy is unfair.

Said Vijaya Ramachandran, research fellow at the Center for Global Development

Despite the unkept promises, the developing nations are still waiting to be compensated for loss and damage caused by climate change, which rich countries are mostly responsible for. The COP president, Alok Sharma  and the UK presidency have produced a seven page draft “non-paper” which is said to be setting a potentially reachable diplomatic outline to tackle global warming. It Is basically the same old story repeating itself: the 1.5C goal as the critical temperature target. Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda and chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, which count for 39 countries, said: “From what I’ve seen it appears we are going to overshoot 1.5C. We are very concerned about that. This is a matter of survival for us.”

Climate activist Vanessa Nakate, second right, and other activists engage in a protest at the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow on Monday. (Alastair Grant/The Associated Press)

However, this draft does not seem to be convincing as it lacks an essential element:  financial help. It consists of $100bn a year that the wealthy countries pledged nine years ago, in attempt to help vulnerable nations adapt to climate change.  Alden Meyer , a strategic adviser on domestic and international climate policy and politics claims: “To get what [the EU and US] say they want in Glasgow on [emissions cuts] and transparency from countries like China and others, they need to build a much stronger high ambition coalition by giving the vulnerable countries what they need and deserve on adaptation and finance and loss and damage

There is no climate justice in the world. Historical pollutors have not been sanctioned.

Molvin Joseph, the Minister of Health, Welfare and Environment of the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda.

Considering the sense of abandonment and denial of the right to either develop with coal or be financially helped, developing countries are pushing back for a genuine commitment and a far more transparent sense of responsibility towards climate breakdown.

Tuvalu’s Minister Simon Kofe gives a COP26 statement while standing in the ocean in Funafuti. photo: ndtv

COP26 will close its curtains on the 12th of this month, but in the remaining important last two days of negotiations, the situation remains as blurry as our vision for the future. The one thing that is unfortunately certain is that the COP’s current plans don’t do justice within the bounds of the threatening challenges facing humanity today.

Celia Hocine

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