WCA Blog

Rich vs Poor while the world burns

Friday, November 19, 2021


Disagreements between the rich and poor worlds have long got in the way of climate agreements and climate action, from Kyoto in 1997 all the way to COP26 this month. From Fixing Climate Finance, a recent article by Jeffrey Sachs in the online magazine Social Europe: "Finance was at the heart of the COP26 rupture between developed and developing countries—it’s time for a new approach. The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) fell far short of what is needed for a safe planet, owing mainly to the lack of trust which has burdened global climate negotiations for almost three decades. Developing countries regard climate change as a crisis caused largely by the rich countries, which they also view as shirking their historical and ongoing responsibility for the crisis. Worried that they will be left paying the bills, many key developing countries, such as India, don’t much care to negotiate or strategise. Sachs goes on to point out that the $356 million pledged by the developed nations at COP26 for the Climate Adaptation Fund amounts to 5 cents per person in the developed world. Against this background of suicidal stinginess, he offers what he describes (and we agree) as a simple and workable approach: To help fund the clean-energy transition (mitigation) and climate resilience (adaptation) in developing countries, each high-income country would be levied $5 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted. Upper-middle-income countries would be levied $2.50 per ton. These CO2 levies would start as soon as possible and rise gradually, doubling in five years. For the arguments in favour and a glimpse of the difficulties, read the article!

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