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People Least Responsible for Climate Crisis are Most Vulnerable to Risks Associated with It

But just over the last few years, Bolsonaro in Brazil has allowed deforestation to take place unchecked under his watch

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Climate, Crisis, Vulnerable, trees
According to the distribution patterns of abies showed in the study, the researchers suggested that enough corridors should be conserved in Hengduan mountains and the Three Parallel Rivers to protect biodiversity against climate change. Pixabay

When a 16-year-old girl who has avowed air travel has to cross the Atlantic in a solar-powered race boat to speak at a conference on climate change while the Amazon rainforests are still burning in evidence to everything she has argued at the highest public forums, it is evident that the adults in the room are not doing enough. The “war on nature must end”, Greta Thunberg appealed as she reached the shores of America. But just over the last few years, Bolsonaro in Brazil has allowed deforestation to take place unchecked under his watch while the Trump administration has been handing out leases of public land and waters for oil and gas drilling that are estimated to produce more carbon emissions than the entire European Union does in a year.

In the face of the world’s biggest crisis, a few world leaders seem to be moving in the opposite direction in denial. The myopic economic interests of countries have clearly taken precedence over the global environmental concerns regarding climate change. Nevertheless, the impact of the climate crisis has not been more evident than today through the unpredictable weather conditions and changing trends in climate, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, as well as ocean acidification. Warming temperatures triggered by greenhouse gas emissions have increased the frequency and intensity of floods, droughts and storms across countries and regions. However, the consequent environmental degradation does not have a uniform impact on countries with varying levels of economic development.

A recently published study by researchers from the Stanford University has found that between 1961 and 2010, the poor countries with lowest carbon emissions suffered bigger losses as compared to wealthy countries with highest emissions. The study emphasized that most poor countries of the world are poorer, and the rich countries are richer due to the impact of global warming. The ratio between incomes of the richest 10 per cent and the poorest 10 per cent of the global population has been estimated to be 25 per cent more than it would have been during that time period otherwise.

A similar impact has been observed within countries where people who are least responsible for the climate crisis are the most vulnerable to the risks associated with it. The local communities living in rural parts of developing countries (that are already at a disadvantage) are directly affected due to the consequent impact on agricultural production, water availability, industry and human health. As a result of rising inequality among and within countries, India’s GDP is estimated to be 31 per cent lower than it would have been without climate change. By contrast, the GDP of Canada and EU are 32 per cent and 9.5 per cent higher respectively.

Climate, Crisis, Vulnerable
When a 16-year-old girl who has avowed air travel has to cross the Atlantic in a solar-powered race boat to speak at a conference on climate change while the Amazon rainforests are still burning in evidence. Pixabay

These findings further the ongoing debate on the division of responsibility for causing climate change and its mitigation. Historically, developed countries have had a major contribution to the greenhouse gas emissions which makes it imperative for them to lead the fight against climate change and its adverse effects. The fact that their development which caused climate change muted the growth prospects of the next wave of developing countries puts additional onus on the developed economies to make efforts to address the crisis.

Given that all countries continue with their efforts to promote an ecosystem of sustainable production and consumption, the developed countries should not only take responsibility for their own actions, but also compensate for their negative contribution of the past. In 2015, the Global Climate Fund was created with the objective to support the efforts of developing countries to tackle climate change through investments in the form of grants, loans, equity and guarantees. In addition to financial assistance, transfer of green and clean technologies to the low-income countries could further stimulate their transition to become green economies. Thus, a comprehensive action plan should be advanced to encourage adoption of sustainable alternatives by providing fiscal incentives, regulatory support for resource-incentive sectors and building of climate-resilient infrastructure in developing countries. Stringent laws regarding green subsidies and carbon taxes levied on traded goods and services could initiate the establishment of carbon-free markets. Green innovation through investment in research and technology could also play a key role to find global solutions to the global issue of climate change.

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Therefore, global value chains based on cooperation and coordination have the capacity to enhance productivity through innovation-driven production processes. International forums and bilateral trade agreements should also focus on enabling the transfer of environmentally-sound technologies for renewable sources of energy, water conservation and waste management from developed to developing countries. Lastly, since leaders like Trump and Bolsonaro cannot be expected to alter their stance on climate change, currently it is only the people who need to do their part by changing dietary habits, for instance, until the developed world can lead by example. (IANS)

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Cost-Sharing is the Key to Global Refugee Crisis: UN

UN Says Cost-Sharing Key to World Refugee Crisis

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United Nations refugee crisis
World leaders gather in the United Nation's General Assemble to discuss the progress made to tackle world Refugee Crisis. Pixabay

A year after the United Nation’s General Assembly adopted the Global Refugee Compact to deal with the world refugees crisis, world leaders gathered in Geneva to weigh the progress made, and pledged more than $3 billion to support refugees and about 50,000 resettlement communities.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the Global Forum on Refugees divvied up the responsibility for dealing with the 25.9 million refugees who have fled war and persecution, mainly exiled in poor neighboring countries.

In addition to the $3 billion, Grandi said Germany, which has hosted hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, pledged about $1.9 billion. The Inter-American Development Bank pledged $1 billion to communities hosting refugees in Latin America. The World Bank also increased its funding for projects supporting refugees by 10%, to $2.2 billion.

At the end of 2018, nearly 71 million people were living in forced displacement due to war, violence and persecution, including the nearly 26 million who had fled to other countries as refugees.

The meeting this week in Geneva stressed the need to share the economic and societal burden of nearly 80% of the world’s refugees living in poor and developing countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country hosts a large amount of the world’s refugees, criticized wealthy nations for setting “tiny” refugee quotas and for not providing adequate financial support to Ankara.

Germany Global Refugee Forum
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a statement during the UNHCR – Global Refugee Forum at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. VOA

Turkey hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees, about 3.7 million, following by Pakistan, with 1.4 million registered refugees.

“We cannot go into a world in which responsibility-sharing means some states keep all the refugees and some states pay all the money. We cannot do that, that is why we have resettlement, why we have different types of partnerships,” Grandi said Wednesday at the close of the two-day meeting.

Rising tide of refugees

The number of people fleeing their homeland has been surging. According to a new report by the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of global migrants has increased from 150 million, to 272 million, in the past 20 years.

Contributing to these burgeoning numbers are the reasons why large numbers of people are being forced out of their homes, Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, said.

“People are being forced out for reasons — whether it’s gangs, whether it’s civil war, whether it’s a state collapse, whether it’s environmental degradation — things that a normal person would decide to flee from,” Selee said.

Along with the challenge of dealing with accommodating large amounts of refugees is the issue of who to let in. Countries are facing the question of who is a refugee and who isn’t. Some cases are clear cut, such as Turkey with the Syrians who are fleeing a brutal civil war; or Colombia with the Venezuelans fleeing their country’s revolution and subsequent economic meltdown.

But there are other cases, such as in Europe and the United States at the southern border with Mexico, in which they are trying to figure out who should be returned to their home country, and who actually has a legitimate claim for asylum or refugee protection.

Refugee aid
The number of refugees fleeing their homeland has been surging. Pixabay

“And, so some people say, OK, we’ll call all these people refugees. Then people say, let’s not expand the definition but at least accept that these people are forced migrants that aren’t leaving by choice,” Selee said. “They’re leaving because something has pushed them out. And there’s a recognition that we need to offer some protection to those people, whether or not we call them refugees.”

Mass migration

Refugee
Syrian and Iraqi refugees arrive from Turkey to Skala Sykamias, Lesbos island, Greece. Wikimedia Commons

Another challenge facing host countries is the issue of mass flows of migrants, and the perception of migrants’ impact on communities.

Dany Bahar of the Brookings Institution said when you think of a refugee crisis today, you think about a huge inflow of people that come to a country in a very short period of time.

Bahar said economists who have been researching the effect of migration have found the perception people had — about how massive inflows of migrants and refugees have negative impacts on the local labor markets — is not really backed by research.

“When refugees are allowed to work, that helps a country that is receiving them to become more productive, to grow etc. When the country has the ability to integrate these refugees by allowing them to be part of society, take part in the public sector, health system and education systems, that is of course positive for everybody,” Behar said.

Lebanon has anestimated population is 5.9 million, with nearly 1.5 million Syrian refugees. This makes it the country with the highest number of refugees per capita – with one refugee for every four nationals, according to the UN.

These numbers have placed an enormous strain on the country’s already fragile economy, society and politics.

“So in the case of Turkey and Lebanon receiving a lot of Syrian refugees, or in the case of Colombia receiving a lot of Venezuelan refugees, or Ethiopia receiving Eritrean and Sudanese refugees — these are countries that, to begin with, are lagging behind in terms of their infrastructure,”  Behar said.

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He said that is why international financing is so important, not only for humanitarian reasons to help people, but to get the services they need by sending financial aid to allow host countries to invest in infrastructure and capital, so that they can integrate these refugees.

All in all, more than 770 pledges were made at this week’s forum for financial support as well as improving refugee access to employment, education, electricity, infrastructure and promises of more resettlement spots for the most vulnerable. (VOA)