The rulers of rich nations are like arsonists who, after lighting the fire, prevent anyone calling the fire brigade. An example of this took place at the Bonn Climate talks that finished on June 16.
There, rich nations — notably the European Union and the United States — blocked all efforts to get “loss and damage” discussions on the agenda at the next climate summit, scheduled for November.
The Glasgow climate summit last year had concluded with an understanding that those most responsible for the carbon emissions that created the climate crisis — rich nations — would finally start working on ways to compensate poor countries suffering irreversible climate damage for which no adaptation is possible.
This is something small island states have been calling for since 1991. In return, these nations agreed to prioritise carbon emissions reductions.
Alex Scott, of environmental think tank E3G, explained to the BBC: “The compromise was based on an understanding that countries would be willing to start talking and taking decisions on dealing with how to get that finance flowing for loss and damage.
“And we haven’t seen that come to fruition here.”
In other words, rich countries have stabbed poor countries in the back — again.
The climate crisis has clearly not gone away. The northern summer has seen a huge heat wave spark wildfires and break temperature records across Europe. Temperatures in Iran reached 52°C on June 21. And unprecedented flooding in the Indian state of Assam has displaced 4.7 million people in the past week.
Yet rich nations are still not prioritising measures to reduce emissions.
The Australian government, while talking about climate action, is pressing ahead with climate-destroying gas developments, such as Beetaloo and Scarborough.
At the same time, the US government is fending off an environmental lawsuit to block 3500 oil and gas permits. US President Joe Biden has already approved more gas and oil drilling permits than former President Donald Trump did in any of his first three years in office.
The British government has also approved several major fossil fuel projects since the Glasgow summit with, according to The Guardian, about another 50 schemes “in the pipeline between now and 2025”.
Meanwhile, these countries continue to give untold billions in corporate welfare to fossil fuel corporations rather than fund renewable energy.
The US is most responsible for the climate crisis as it has produced more cumulative carbon dioxide emissions than any other country. Cumulative emissions is a key measure because carbon dioxide can contribute to warming even hundreds of years after it was pumped into the atmosphere.
Australia is the third highest contributor of per capita cumulative emissions. This — plus the fact we are a rich country with exceptionally good renewable resources — makes it immoral to continue with current levels of fossil fuel use.
Costa Rican environmentalist Adriana Vasquez Rodriquez told the BBC: “We are already living with loss and damages for the last 25 years. We have families who have lost their houses, their crops, their lives, and no-one is paying for that, we are running out of resources, and at the same time, we are depending on debt.”
The rulers of the world have proven over and over again that they do not care about people — not in Costa Rica or Cairns, nor Iran or the Illawarra.
For more than 30 years, Green Left has not just actively campaigned for climate justice: it has campaigned for the people-powered alternative needed to save the planet.
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