As the United Nations’ climate change Conference of Parties (COP 27) prepares to wind up today, developing countries, especially those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, continue to voice their disappointment over the continued failure to implement agreements on the part of developed countries.
Just yesterday, Thursday, November 17, a senior African representative criticized the draft text agreement circulated and called for it to be rewritten. He called it a “betrayal of the most vulnerable countries who are counting the cost of inaction and facing ever bigger bills for loss and damage.”
That demand for loss and damage is in effect compensation to countries most affected by climate change brought about by the actions of industrial developed countries which are directly responsible for continuing to damage the environment and threaten the future of humankind. It was a theme strongly put forward by representatives from these vulnerable and most affected countries.
Thus, Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley boldly criticized industrial nations for “failing the developing world ‘, saying that the prosperity of the rich, with high carbon emissions, had been achieved at the expense of the very countries which are most affected by the effects of such high carbon emissions and now those same countries are paying again as victims of the climate breakdown that they did not cause.
She put it most bluntly by saying, “We are the ones whose blood, sweat and tears financed the industrial revolution. Are we now to face double jeopardy by having to pay the cost as a result of those greenhouse gases from the industrial revolution. That is fundamentally unfair.”
That theme has been echoed throughout the Conference by delegates from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, Latin America and Asia. The disappointment about the failure to implement previous agreements, for example the Paris Agreement at COP 25 on reducing emissions to the extent that the world is rapidly approaching the dangerous 1.5-degree threshold for such emissions.
It has led to the overwhelming demand for loss and damage compensation, tantamount to the demands of former colonized countries for reparations for colonial plunder, genocide and slavery. As in the case of Reparations, the developed countries are turning a deaf ear to the demands of those suffering most. Even as the demands and pleadings are made at COP 27, as they were in previous conferences, even the attitude of the major western media reveal the indifference. The war in Ukraine gets more coverage that the deliberations at COP 27.
It tells us how urgent and formidable the challenge before us is. Even as we work with fellow sufferers around the world to coordinate actions on climate change, we have to do more to educate and mobilize our people, the young in particular about the danger. It must be reflected in our schools’ curricula, in mobilization efforts at the community level. It is not even clear in our country for instance which Ministry is taking an active lead on this important area of work. We can do more and must do better for we have no choice.