quotes US, Europe should prioritize climate change over Ukraine crisis

13 November 2022
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Updated 13 November 2022

US, Europe should prioritize climate change over Ukraine crisis

As the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP27, began in Sharm El-Sheikh recently, the second summit of the Middle East Green Initiative coincided with the joint sponsorship of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

The two summits express the world’s priorities in the next stage. For the first time, the climate summit in Egypt put the issue of damages and losses at the top of the agenda.

According to the principle of climate justice, climate change is primarily the responsibility of Western countries and their industrial revolution, and they should pay the bill to developing countries affected by their actions.

The Middle East Green Initiative will work to reduce carbon emissions and recycle it in a manner that achieves carbon neutrality. It will also work on planting 50 billion trees in the Kingdom and countries of the region. In addition, the region will need to reclaim 10 million square kilometers of land degraded due to overgrazing, desertification, drought, and the use of clean fuels for cooking, benefiting 750 million people worldwide.

With Saudi Arabia’s support for the initiative, worth $2.5 billion, both summits will contribute to addressing global warming or at least preventing it from worsening.

According to the BBC, the G20 countries, specifically the US, China, and India, bear 75 percent of the carbon emissions leading to global warming. However, the nations of the African group, represented by Egypt at the summit, are responsible for only 4 percent of the emissions.

The 134 developing countries represent the largest negotiating bloc and most of them have been affected by increasingly severe climatic conditions.

Remarkably, the administration of US President Joe Biden pledged in 2021 to provide subsidies worth $11 billion to help developing countries tackle their environmental crises; but only 1 billion has been received.

America and Europe are preoccupied with the crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, redirecting funds to Ukraine, and returning to the consumption of fossil fuels and coal.

Climate Change violates human, economic, social, and health rights and yet it should be viewed as the most important part of the rights system.

Germany, France, and the Netherlands returned to dependence on coal despite the European agreement to stop its use by 2030. And the US has reversed its restrictions on shale oil.

The major industrialized countries made a commitment at the Paris summit in 2015 that they would provide $100 billion annually to developing countries until 2025. They have also promised to enable such nations to adapt to climate change but have not paid a single dollar since that commitment was made and, I suspect, are unlikely ever to do so.

In a study by Stanford University, researchers identified the relationship between average income and climate change in 19 countries over 50 years. They noted that in the nations where emissions increased, the rate of income of individuals also increased and that they were industrialized states. In contrast, in countries with fewer emissions harmful to the environment, the income of individuals fell, and were all from developing countries.

According to the World Health Organization, climate change affects people’s health in developing countries because of poor health systems, making diseases such as cholera and malaria fatal.

Climate change confuses people’s psychological balance and may lead them to suicide, anxiety, and violence.

The rate of global food production will be affected, which will inevitably lead to conflicts, civil wars, terrorism, and instability, and this will happen in developing countries to a greater extent, and there will be many cases of migration and displacement.

The previous 10 years were the hottest in Earth’s history, compared to the last 120,000 years. The reason behind that is that greenhouse gases reached their highest levels in 4 million years. Moreover, the increase in the Earth’s temperature melted ice caps at record levels of up to 1 trillion tons per year, which will raise ocean and sea levels, and lead to coastal disasters.

In addition, microbes and viruses frozen in ice will be resurrected, and diseases will appear to which man does not have immunity. If the current climate situation continues, some have suggested it could lead to the extinction of around 50 percent of all living things by 2050. It would also result in an estimated 14 percent loss of global gross domestic product, or $23 trillion, according to the New York Times.

Climate Change violates human, economic, social, and health rights and yet it should be viewed as the most important part of the rights system.

Confronting it requires compensation funds for developing countries, to help them adapt to global warming problems.

This year, severe weather events caused by global warming have taken place in Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Bolivia, costing those countries billions of dollars with little assistance.

By hosting the headquarters of the general secretariat of the Middle East Green Initiative, the Kingdom provides a creative and stimulating example, especially in the field of planning and environmental commitment at the regional and possibly global levels. I believe there should be a third initiative named the Green World Initiative.

Dr. Bader bin Saud is a weekly columnist for Al-Riyadh and Okaz, a media and knowledge management researcher, and the former deputy commander of the Special Forces for Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia