Why developing countries need help to fight climate change

Summary

As the Green Climate Fund, which supports developing countries in the fight against climate change, is on the verge of closing its first financing round, the World Bank has just issued a report showing how vulnerable developing countries are to global warming.

03Déc.
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The Green Climate Fund announced on 28 November 2014 that it had raised $9.7 billion, days before the opening of the COP20 (the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – UNFCCC) in Lima (Peru). So far, 22 countries have contributed and additional pledges are expected to be announced during the COP20. The Green Climate Fund aims to reach $10 billion for this first funding round.

At the COP15 in Cancun (Mexico) in 2010, the Parties decided to establish the Green Climate Fund to support the global fight against climate change. Four years later, the Fund is on the verge of closing its first financing round. Its purpose is “to make a significant and ambitious contribution to the global efforts towards attaining the goals set by the international community to combat climate change.” More specifically, the Fund will concentrate on “providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change, taking into account the needs of those developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.”

Developing countries are more exposed to climate change

Global warming poses many threats and generates many inequalities. While all of mankind is responsible for it – and, to be honest, post-industrialised countries are accountable for a large share – not everyone suffers the same consequences. And developing countries pay the biggest toll.  For instance, as we wrote in a previous article, in the not-so-distant future, agriculture in the North will most likely experience positive effects thanks to more warmth and sun exposure, but the South will suffer from numerous droughts, experience frequent hydric stress and even be forced to abandon some types of crops. Deforestation, with its inherent loss of habitat, biodiversity and income, is likely to be more extensive in the South, and southern regions might also see their attractiveness as tourist destinations drop in favour of northern destinations.

On 23 November 2014, the World Bank issued its latest “Turn down the heat” report, which“explores the risks worsening climate change poses to lives and livelihoods across three regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa.” It finds that “everyone will feel the impact, particularly the poor, as weather extremes become more common and risks to food, water, and energy security increase.”These impacts are summed up in this infographic that powerfully highlights the urgency of the situation.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said:

Today’s report confirms what scientists have been saying – past emissions have set an unavoidable course of warming over the next two decades, which will affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people the most.

Today, many populations in the developing world see their homes increasingly threatened by the rise of the sea level (in Bangladesh or in the Maldives, likely be absorbed by the Indian Ocean around 2060), deforestation, desertification, monsoons, air, soil or water toxicity, droughts, dried-out lakes or interior seas, etc. In an article we wrote about environmental migrants, we reported that the United Nations estimates that 20 million people have already been forced to migrate for environmental reasons, and that around 50 million might have to do so in the future. And massive numbers of these migrants will be citizens of under-developed or developing countries, because their governments will not have the necessary resources to adapt – contrary to the Netherlands, for instance, where cities are already expanding on water. This is why the Green Climate Fund is of the utmost importance, to help developing countries both face up to the consequences of climate change and implement measures to curb it. Now that it has gathered the funds, over the next few years we will see how they are put to good use. It is about time.

Photo © 501room via shutterstock