Climate Change Apartheid

Photo Source: NPR.org

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe UpFront

As extreme weather continues to force the earth, into more drought, floods, hurricanes, a time will come, in our world, when the poorest people would be forced to choose, between migration, and starvation.

It seems that only the rich will be able to find their way out from these crises. It is because they could pay for overheating, hunger and diseases, while the remaining poor, in the rest of the world, will likely plunge into crises. The overall scenario has been termed as ‘climate apartheid’. 

This term got a limelight after the UN Human Rights Council, published a report that received worldwide attention, and was widely quoted in the global press. The report rests on the figures from the World Bank, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, among others. It imagines a world, after a few decades, with 2° C (3.6° F) of warming above pre-industrial levels. It says this could impact hundred to four hundred million people, who are at risk of hunger, and one to two billion will have no access to adequate water. Crop yields could drop by thirty per cent, by 2080, while malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress, could cause an additional two hundred fifty thousand deaths, per year, by 2030.

According to this report, written by global poverty expert, Philip Alston, the poorest people of the world are only responsible for ten per cent of the world’s greenhouse emissions, while the rich are responsible, for around half. Many people have become rich, exploiting nature, without paying for its costs.

The report alleges that the lifestyle of the wealthy, who have wider access to life-saving resources have augmented the climate change, into a wrong direction, indicating that humanity will face greater troubles, difficult to overcome, in the future. There will also be an abnormal rise, in sea levels, and other possible disasters, are in the offing, as well, such as wildfires.

Attacking the US, the biggest producer of emission, Alston, wrote: ‘President [Donald] Trump has placed former lobbyists in oversight roles, adopted industry talking points presided over an aggressive rollback of environmental regulations, and is actively silencing and obfuscating climate science’.

Unmoved by climate change, US President Donald Trump also has recently taken his country, out of the Paris Agreement, in June 2017, where around two hundred nations are signatories. The G20, it seems, is also giving a cold shoulder over climate change, as per inputs, from the Financial Times.

Besides the United States, the problems of emissions are widespread. Despite ending its reliance on coal, China has been still exporting coal-fired power plants and failing in its target, to reduce methane emissions. Currently, Brasil President Jair Bolsonaro has planned to open up the Amazon rainforest, for mining purposes, triggering demarcation of indigenous lands, resulting in weakening environmental protection. In terms of climate change, there is a major drought situation, in north India, and south India. The southwest monsoon, responsible for eighty per cent of India’s rainfall, has been delayed in 2019. According to Indian Drought Early Warning Systems, more than forty per cent of India, is under drought crises. As per a Scroll article, India is experiencing a serious drought-like situation, since 2015.
To make matters more serious, researchers from Stanford University believe that climate change is making countries poorer, thereby widening the social inequalities of the world. In a 2017 Science journal, it was also projected that the poorest states, in the United States, will see the most economic damage, from events, such as droughts and hurricanes. Since 1980, the United States, alone, has suffered two hundred forty-one weather, and climate disasters, costing one billion American dollars, or more, at a cumulative cost of $1.6 trillion. The cost of climate change, suffered at a global level, is something, having wider and more profound ramifications.

This pertaining climate crises is giving rise to new movements, all over the world, such as fighting for green economic transition, labour rights, and poverty reduction efforts. The example of rich, preventing themselves from climate apartheid was recently explained, by a report, from Al-Jazeera, where they highlighted the strategy of Goldman Sachs, where its headquarters were prevented, by tens of thousand sandbags, and power, from its own generator, when Hurricane Sandy, hit in 2012. It reflected the economic power of the wealthy private sector, preventing itself from sea-rise.

According to an IPCC report, commissioned by CVF countries, the world is becoming hotter, with an increase of 1.5°C, which can be only prevented through rapid uptake of renewable energy sources, phasing out of fossil fuels, and a systematic shift, in the mindset of our societies.

In fact, global climate change should be viewed personally, and solutions and measures must be provided, by every country. That has been another issue discussed at the Climate Vulnerable Forum, as there are around forty-eight countries, which will likely have grave climate impacts, and in Africa, alone, around sixteen countries have been identified as climate vulnerable.

In fact, in countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, and India, torrential rains and floods have directly impacted around forty-one million people.

Although, there have been some positive developments, with renewable energy prices falling, coal becoming uncompetitive, and emissions getting a slump, in forty-nine countries, and seven thousand cities, two hundred forty-five regions. There are around six thousand companies, committing to climate mitigation, as per inputs from Al-Jazeera.
Despite this positive development, the world at large needs stronger legislation, that will inject reform in institutions, of countries, suffering from this massive environmental problem.

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