The failure of the Cop26
There is a version of events where the Cop26 in Glasgow was not a failure. There is an argument here: Glasgow relied on and consolidated the gains made in Paris and secured deals on reducing methane emissions and deforestation.
The vague consensus on funding could be optimistically described as a measure of clarity. And the provision of global public goods will always face the problem of a âtragedy of the commonsâ. Glasgow has made progress against that baseline.
But this version of events, this story with a half-full glass, would never come from small island states, Sahelian states or Madagascar, because what others call a future climate crisis is already their daily experience. And adopting gradualism in response to a problem requiring revolution is a dismal failure.
It has been evident for some time that as long as the worst effects of the climate crisis occur in places where the global community places a lower value on life, the gradualism of Cop26 will be portrayed as âreasonableâ.
When the most affected places, despite their limited liability in the crisis, demand damage, loss and mitigation assistance, their position is described as unreasonable, such as when the Norwegian Minister for the Environment, Espen Barth Eide, said, âTo hold the planet hostage for not having enough money is not good.
This inadequate response to the climate crisis can above all be seen as a failure of how the West has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic. When the people and economies at risk were those whose lives had been valued most, the response was proportional to the magnitude of the problem.
The progressive was rejected. In the first two months of the pandemic, governments announced $ 10 trillion in economic responses, according to a McKinsey report.
“The Western European countries alone have allocated nearly $ 4 trillion, almost 30 times the current value of the Marshall Plan,” the authors wrote. “The scale of the government’s responses has put the delivery into uncharted territory.”
When facing an existential crisis the answer is always in uncharted territory, but in the face of a climate catastrophe the same countries that responded with billions of billions over an 18 month period must be dragged, kicked and cries, to commit $ 100 billion a year to developing countries, and then systematically far from reaching an already insufficient commitment.
Moral clarity after the fact
In the movie Titanic, the old Rose tells of the many half-filled lifeboats launched before the Titanic got off, only one returned to fetch survivors from the sea, and the 700 people aboard those ships would spend the rest of their lives “waiting for an absolution that would never come.”
This phenomenon of moral clarity, conveniently after the fact, has been a constant of decadent political leadership in every crisis in human history. In 1939, the US immigration authorities refused to land in the MS Saint-Louis, a ship carrying more than 900 Jewish passengers attempting to flee Nazi Germany.
The UN itself has explained in detail how it allowed the Bosnian Muslim “safe zone” of Srebrenica to be invaded in July 1995 by Bosnian Serbs, who then systematically killed thousands of men and women. city ââboys. Afterwards, the UN noted that “the tragedy of Srebrenica will haunt our history forever.”
As the Rwandan genocide unfolded, US State Department spokespersons crammed together analyzing the difference between “acts of genocide” and “genocide” in a studied effort to avoid describing the situation. ‘a way that would transfer all responsibility to act.
Former President Bill Clinton would continue to call this one of his “biggest regrets,” admitting that they knew enough, soon enough, to step in and save lives and didn’t.
Political expediency has always taken precedence over courageous responses in the hour of crisis, only to be followed by sincere regret, tears and moral clarity afterwards.
For the first victims of the climate crisis, no help comes. The aid that will arrive will be piecemeal, inadequate and will decrease in substance as the crisis increases in intensity, regularity and scale.
Fortunately for us, we are not without options. Unlike the victims described in the incidents above, today’s climate victims have options they can exercise before they are overwhelmed.
What can African states do in response?
Until putting on their demands
As I said in âWhat does the ‘rules-based international order’ mean for Africa? No minority group has ever increased its power by appealing to the good conscience of the majority.
As my favorite abolitionist said, “Power doesn’t grant anything without a demand.” The demand here is not a simple demand. The demand here is disruption. African states must raise the bar by attaching their climate demands to every international engagement. In the plethora of âAfrican summitsâ to which they are invited, they must include their just demands for funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Form impromptu alliances
In the demand for climate adaptation finance, South Africa and India have significantly more leverage due to their disproportionate use of coal. Negotiate with these two to refrain from negotiating bilateral agreements, so that other developing countries can follow them. By isolating India and South Africa from smaller and weaker states, the Global North can continue its divide-and-rule strategy. Fight this.
Reform and improve governance
There is simply not enough concessional funding and an increasingly nativist policy in the Global North will place strict limits on available funding. Capital is a coward and with Africa seen as risky, with a weak or unpredictable regulatory environment, this will always be the last option as an investment destination.
It’s like African central banks considering issuing official digital coins as a way to reduce the attractiveness of cryptocurrencies, when it is their poor governance that is driving crypto growth. African governments should strengthen tax policy and create functional regulatory regimes.
Redirect national DFIs
Improving governance must include careful selection of projects and directing domestic resources to projects that benefit Africa, even if these projects attract Western anger. Western countries are hypocritically building massive natural gas production at home while actively refusing to finance developing countries for the same projects.
Afreximbank is invested in the exploration and development of downstream natural gas projects. When African financial institutions make such risky bets, they must be supported for the bets to pay off.
Gyude Moore is Senior Policy Researcher at the Center for Global Development.