Rich countries still don’t want to pay their climate change tab

2021-11-11

Climate change has a central injustice: The parts of the world that contribute the least to global warming stand to suffer the most as temperatures climb.

Rising sea levels, hotter heat waves, and more frequent torrential downpours disproportionately hammer low-lying coastal areas, islands, tropics, and deserts that are home to people who historically haven’t burned that much coal, oil, or natural gas. The slow and acute impacts of climate change are already destroying homes, forcing migrations, and taking lives, particularly in countries that have few resources to begin with. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the most vulnerable countries to climate change include Haiti, Myanmar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and the Bahamas.

Meanwhile, major producers and consumers of fossil energy, like the United States, have become the wealthiest countries in the world. That wealth also means more government and private resources to respond to a warming world, whether by building infrastructure to withstand higher tides, managing forests to reduce severe wildfires, or compensating citizens for their flood-ruined homes.

That inequity is the undercurrent of the United Nations’ ongoing COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland. The meeting is an opportunity for major polluters and those suffering from the effects to sit across from one another — and the countries bearing the brunt of global warming say that addressing this central injustice must be at the core of any climate agreement. Otherwise, hopes of reaching concordance on other key climate issues could fall apart.

vox.com, 11 November 2021
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