COP26: What do the poorest countries want from climate summit?

COP26: What does the poorest country want from the climate summit? By Daniel Kraemer
BBC News Published 5 Days Ago

Source: Getty Images

The most vulnerable countries to climate change are those in developing countries.

For the COP26 climate negotiations, which are taking place in Glasgow, leaders will need to address the needs of smaller and less wealthy countries.

What are the needs of developing countries?

These least developed countries have identified their priorities for negotiation. They want developed and richer countries to:

To reduce carbon emissions and adapt to climate changes, you must fulfill a commitment to contribute $100bn each year (roughly equivalent of PS73bn at current exchange rate).

Ensure that net-zero greenhouse gas emissions are not achieved before 2050. Specific targets should be set for major emitters like the US, Australia, and other EU countries.

Recognize the damage and loss they have suffered, such as rising sea levels and frequent flooding.

Finalize rules for how countries will implement agreements previously signed

Leaders of developing countries are frustrated that the richest people in the world have failed to meet their prior commitments.

Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya's president, stated that "Before you make new promises, begin by fulfilling the existing ones."

This video cannot be played. To view this video, you will need jаvascript enabled in your browser. Media caption: What is Climate Justice?

Which countries are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change?

The history of developing countries has shown that they have contributed very little to climate change-related harmful emissions. In fact, the emissions from the wealthiest 1% of the world's population are more than twice as high as those of the poorest half.

Because they are more dependent on the environment for food and work, these poorer countries are more susceptible to extreme weather events. They also have less money available to invest in mitigation.

In the 47 least developed nations, more than two thirds of all deaths due to extreme weather over the past 50 years -- including wildfires and floods -- have occurred in the 47 most underdeveloped countries.

Image source: Getty Images Image caption. Countries like Bangladesh have been at the forefront of the effects global warming

What can the wealthier countries do to improve the situation?

2009: Richer countries pledged to find $100bn per year from public and private sources by 2020 to meet the needs of developing nations.

This money will be used to pay for mitigation measures and protection against extreme weather such as flood defense systems that are better and investments in renewable energy.

However, the total commitments were only $80bn as of 2019, so it is unlikely that the $100bn goal will be achieved before 2023.

If the world wants to achieve its goal of keeping global temperature rises below 1.5C, it is essential to reach an agreement on how to fulfill the commitments made to developing countries.

Lazarus Chakwera, Malawi's president, said when he arrived in Glasgow for the summit: "It is not a charity act. Pay up or perish along with us

Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, has made reaching $100bn one of his four priorities in negotiations in Glasgow.

He stated that the wealthier nations have "reaped the rewards of untrammelled polluting for generations, often at great cost to developing countries" and that they have a "duty” to support these nations with technology, money, and expertise.

What are the challenges for the smaller countries who wish to attend the summit?

"We are negotiating our survival," Tagaloa Cooper of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, a group made up of members from Pacific islands countries and territories says.

Rising sea levels make these islands nations most vulnerable to climate change. But Ms Cooper claims that they lack the resources necessary to send large delegations.

"Some of our most vulnerable people will have difficulty having a voice and being heard in these negotiations."

Image source: Getty Images Image caption. More than 120 world leaders are expected in Glasgow to participate in climate negotiations

Many delegations have had difficulty navigating Covid-safe travel to Glasgow, especially those from the Pacific Islands, where infection rates are still low.

Reports indicate that only four heads of state from the Pacific islands are expected to travel to the summit. Others will be represented by smaller teams or ambassadors.

Negociators who stay behind and participate remotely could be affected by poor internet access and time differences. For example, Samoa is 13 hours ahead than the UK.

How do developing countries negotiate at climate conferences?

Because developing countries often have a lower voice on international stages, it is easier to create groups or blocks that can help them.

The Least Developed Country group, which includes Senegal and Bangladesh as well as Yemen, is a 46-nation bloc and represents one million people.

According to Sonam Wangdi from Bhutan, these countries can have stronger negotiating positions if "priorities & interests are aligned".

"This crisis is not being treated as a crisis. He says that this must change in Glasgow.

Image source: Getty Images Image caption: Bhutan has committed to keeping at minimum 60% of its country under forest cover

All 197 UN member countries that have signed up for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change must sign if there is to be any final agreement.

This means that both the richer and the developing countries must accept the final agreement.

In 2009, world leaders failed to reach a legally binding agreement at Copenhagen. This was partly due to opposition from a few developing countries like Tuvalu and Sudan.

Additional research by Esme Stahlard.

Getty Images top image. Climate stripes visualization courtesy of Prof Ed Hawkins & University of Reading