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Editorial - Rich must address climate apartheid

2021-11-05  Staff Reporter

Editorial - Rich must address climate apartheid
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The global attention this week has been on the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26), in Glasgow, where politicians, business leaders and activists from nearly 200 countries are meeting to discuss the impact of climate change as well as seek to raise a staggering US$100 billion towards clean energy initiatives.

It is a well-known fact that the world’s wealthiest nations are largely responsible for turning the planet into an ecological time bomb through what is termed as carbon-hungry activities.  

Severe droughts due to erratic patterns of rainfall, blistering heat waves and locust swarms have been felt around the world, especially in developing countries in Africa. 

These are some of the consequences of climate change, which continues to be felt unevenly around the world.

 The irony here is that African nations had little part in creating natural disasters such as drought, floods and famine.

 However, there has been little pressure on big emitters of carbon, such as the US, Europe, China and India to come up their transition out of fossil fuels and further limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. 

It is, therefore, unfair to expect African nations to cough up while already enduring the disastrous consequences caused by wealthy nations.

 Developed countries last week confirmed they had failed to meet a pledge made in 2009 to provide US$100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020.

Instead, it would arrive in 2023.

The UN stated that the US$100 billion pledge is far below the needs of vulnerable countries to cope with climate change, but it has become a symbol of trust and fairness between rich and poor nations. 

Vulnerable countries will need up to US$300 billion per year by 2030 for climate adaptation alone, according to the United Nations. 

That is aside from potential economic losses from crop failure or climate-related disasters. 

A country like Namibia, despite amplifying its 2015 pledge in the Nationally Determined Contributions, which includes the goal to reduce emissions by 91%, has not been spared from the devastating impacts of climate change. 

“Along with the world, Namibia is experiencing widespread and devastating impacts on key facets of our civilisation, including severe droughts to devastating field fires, destroying large tracts of our agricultural land, adversely impacting, livelihoods, human health and wellbeing,” President Hage Geingob told world leaders this week. 

Through the rolling out of the green hydrogen and ammonia projects in the south of the country, the Namibian government deserves praise for taking bold steps to enhance energy security as well as decarbonise the country to reduce emissions and build a more resilient economy. 

The ball, however, firmly remains in the courts of the wealthy nations, who need to step up their green plans and begin to compensate the vulnerable countries for their mounting losses. 

Wealthy nations took over 10 years to make good on climate funding promises, so the rest of the world must make sure that this time, they leave Cop26 with concrete delivery plans to back emission reduction commitments.

2021-11-05  Staff Reporter

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