Developing countries are the most vulnerable to damage caused by climate change, such as floods, droughts and fires.
Responding to the needs of less rich and smaller countries is vital to the COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow, where leaders are asked to agree on new commitments to tackle climate change.
What do developing countries want?
Least developed countries have establish their priorities for negotiations. They want the richest and most developed countries:
- fulfill the commitment to provide $ 100 billion (equivalent to around £ 73 billion at current exchange rates) annually in financing to help reduce emissions and adapt to climate change
- agree net zero greenhouse gas targets well before 2050, with specific targets for major emitters such as the United States, Australia and EU countries
- recognize the losses and damage they have suffered, such as the effects of sea level rise or frequent flooding
- finalize the rules on how countries will implement previous agreements
Which countries are most at risk from the effects of climate change?
Developing countries have historically contributed a very small percentage of the harmful emissions that drive climate change – and currently the richest 1% of the world’s population account for more than double the combined emissions of the poorest 50%.
These poorer countries are also more vulnerable to the effects of extreme climate because they are generally more dependent on the natural environment for food and jobs and have less money to spend on mitigation.
In the past 50 years, more than two in three deaths caused by extreme weather conditions, including droughts, fires and floods, it occurred in the 47 least developed countries.
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What are the richer countries doing to address the situation?
In 2009, the richest countries pledged to raise $ 100 billion a year by 2020 from public and private sources to meet the needs of developing countries.
The money is to help pay for measures to reduce hazardous emissions and protect against the effects of extreme weather conditions, such as improved flood defense systems and investments in renewable energy sources.
However, total pledges had only reached $ 80 billion by 2019, and the $ 100 billion target is now unlikely to be reached before 2023.
Securing agreement on how to meet commitments – and potentially go further – is critical if the world achieves its goal of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5C.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated reaching $ 100 billion as one of his four priorities for negotiations in Glasgow.
He said wealthier nations have “reaped the benefits of unbridled pollution for generations, often at the expense of developing countries,” and that they have a “must” to support developing nations with technology, skills and money.
What are the obstacles for smaller countries to participate in the summit?
“We are negotiating for our survival,” says Tagaloa Cooper, of the Pacific Regional Environment Program Secretariat, an organization made up of members from Pacific island countries and territories.
Rising sea levels make some of these island nations the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but Ms. Cooper says a lack of resources means they don’t have the “luxury” of sending large delegations.
“Some of our most vulnerable will struggle to have a voice and be heard in these negotiations.”
Navigating Covid’s safe journey to the Glasgow conference has been a stumbling block for many delegations, particularly the Pacific islands, where infection rates have remained low during the pandemic.
Only four Pacific Island heads of state are reported to be en route to the summit, with others represented by smaller teams and ambassadors.
Negotiators who lag behind and participate remotely can be handicapped by unreliable internet access and time differences. Samoa, for example, is 13 hours ahead of the UK.
How do developing countries negotiate at climate conferences?
Developing countries usually have less say on the international stage, so it helps to form groups or blocs to amplify their cause.
The Group of least developed countries it is a block of 46 nations that includes Senegal, Bangladesh and Yemen and represents one billion people.
These countries can create stronger negotiating positions when “priorities and interests are aligned,” says Sonam Wangdi, the current president, from Bhutan.
They have worked together throughout the year and will meet every day in Glasgow.
If there is to be a final agreement, all 197 UN member states that have signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change must sign.
This means that the final agreement must be acceptable to both richer and developing countries.
World leaders have failed to guarantee a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen in 2009, partly because a handful of developing countries including Sudan and Tuvalu opposed the final agreement.
Further research by Esme Stallard
- Climate change
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