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COP27, Last Chance for Small Countries at Risk?

🕑 3 min

By Sara Campeti

The COP27 might be one of the last opportunities to make a financial shift in the global order to combat climate change. "Taking from the rich and giving to the poor" is the mantra of this year's United Nations Climate Change Conference held at Sharm-el Sheik, Egypt. While it might sound too "Robin Hood"-esque, that is a crucial event that might greatly influence the direction the planet is taking: recovery, or a wall.

1. Introduction

The COP27 is built around a simple idea: obtaining funding from the nations that pollute the most, which also tend to be the richest, to donate to the poorer nations who are struggling with climate change-related issues. These countries may not be causing the problem first-hand, but are the ones who are suffering the most because of it. One can look at Tuvalu as an example, which is predicted to disappear within the next 100 years because of the rising sea levels and is ranked 186th among global GDPs. If action isn't taken as soon as possible, Tuvalu won't be the only country disappearing and the consequences of climate change will continue to take a consistently stronger toll on our everyday lives.

2. COP27, Why and What?

First of all, one should care because climate change affects everyone on earth. It may be at different intensities or ways, but it impacts everyone’s livelihood. Secondly, and similarly, attention should be brought to the issue because global action is required in order to successfully tackle the problem: unless everyone acts, action is pointless. Therefore, it is fundamental to understand and read about what countries’ representatives are doing in order to keep their population’s livelihoods safe.

The conference focuses on how to combine global finance and take action against climate change. An example of this is the British approach to international cooperation against the environmental crisis. A minister of the UK treasury, James Cartlidge, reveals that the UK’s export credit agency will start including a “climate resilient debt clause” to its international money-lending cases. This clause would make it so that the countries that purchase British goods and that the UK loans money to would have their mandatory debt payments interrupted in the event of a climate disaster impacting their land.

3. Advocacy for the most affected regions

European countries are not the only ones bringing new, exciting initiatives to the conference. Another country that shined through is Barbados, thanks to their PM Mia Mottley. The latter’s advocacy for her country also showed in the COP26, last year’s conference, and this year she came back to advocate for a new global financial system. The objective she wishes to achieve is to create a new global way of managing finance so that countries like hers, which have struggled with COVID-19 and with natural disasters both at a social and economic level, can rely on a strong, supportive system to pay their debts and get their economy back on its feet.

Like the region of Tuvalu in Oceania, the Caribbean is heading towards natural and economic disasters. Their debt is growing just like climate change is worsening and their economy is not able to keep up with the debts. Their region is one of the most indebted on earth and their debts make up around 90.1% of their total GDP. The situation for this region is therefore critical, to say the least, and the richer countries are therefore coming together to help these regions make it out of the problems they caused.

4. Conclusion

It is therefore fascinating to look at the COP27 as an example of why collective action is necessary. As The Guardian puts it, “without progress on finance, developing countries will not trust developed countries and collective action will fail.” What this means is that in order to properly deal with the climate crisis, the world needs a financial paradigm shift. This means a total reinvention of how the global economy works so that it can accommodate these new critical circumstances. The current world’s finances are built around the rich nations that made their fortune through colonialism and polluting industries, which is the quintessential reason why a shift is required: it is simply not sustainable. Their fortune came at the cost of others, for instance, countries disappearing (Tuvalu) and regions owing 90% of their GDP in debt (the Caribbean's). The COP27 is therefore fundamental to achieving global, collective action against this modern-day tragedy and hopefully helping the regions who need it.

Sources: The Guardian, UNDP, IEEP

Written by Sara Campeti

November 2022

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