1.5C on “life support” – what does the future of developing countries look like?

Gabriella Gasparro, Lowestoft Sixth Form College

Friday 12th November 2021

With COP26 drawing to an end, it seems the many hopes for effective climate deals could also be ending. After twelve days of negotiations, it was stated by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that the goal to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C is on “life support”. Furthermore, the research group Climate Action Tracker has said that we’re on the path to having a 2.4C rise, and that no country is currently on track to meet the 1.5C Paris agreement. So, today, Friday 12th November 2021, 197 parties are working towards a final agreement to combat climate change and keep the 1.5C “alive”. During a statement made today, the COP26 president Alok Sharma said “urgent collective action” is needed to put together a finalised agreement, and he also added that we “need that final injection of can-do spirit”. From his words, it would be fair to assume that we’re close to reaching desired agreements from this COP.

But for Global South countries, they feel the negotiations are “unbalanced”. These countries have been at the forefront of global warming impacts, despite them not being the main contributors to climate change. So, to help them cope withstand impacts, for years they have tried to gain compensation and make sure the Global North countries are held accountable for their contribution of emissions. However, a proposal from China and the G77 didn’t include this, which encouraged disappointment from developing countries, like Peru. Furthermore, countries like Tuvalu are “literally sinking” and if the action doesn’t come in full-force now, countries like this will simply cease to exist. If 1.5C isn’t kept in sight and the Global North don’t take the required action, then some countries in the Global South could disappear. This prospect leaves the people living in such countries with very bleak and uncertain futures.

As part of the “final injection” before an agreement, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina are pressing for a committee to check that the promised $100bn per year from Global North is actually delivered. This climate finance was agreed at COP15 (in 2005), where Global North countries would deliver $100bn per year by 2020. They want this to be included in the final agreement, as this sum can support them in playing their part to combat climate change, and also to help them withstand the devastating impacts.

Furthermore, Madagascar’s environment minister also made their opinions heard, they said their country is waiting for a “more optimistic commitment” and “real engagement” from Global North countries (otherwise known as the Big Emitters). People living in Madagascar have been suffering the impacts first-hand, including food insecurity issues, meaning the people have had to resort to eating insects so they can survive. However, with the country being home to “5% of the global biodiversity”, and some of the species being endemic to the country, this in itself can have negative consequences.

I believe that it is unjust that Global South countries, who typically aren’t main contributors, have to endure these devastating impacts. No-one should have to experience what they’re currently experiencing, and it seems particularly unfair due to the fact that they don’t pollute the environment as much compared to other countries. I also believe that to help them mitigate impacts, the main Global North countries should be held accountable and provide them with the finance they need. As individuals, we can start making our own positive differences. Walk more, use zero-waste stores, shop locally, cut out single use plastics. We need to see real action now; no more greenwashing from governments, no more empty words. Just action.

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