A Catastrophic Future Awaits If Developed Countries Don't Do What They Should: Study

The Texas flood in June is the perfect example of how things will look in the near future if we don't act 1 photo
Photo: Wired
Perhaps the media is discussing too little the climate targets that 146 countries, representing almost 87 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, have submitted by early October. An independent review supported by social movements, environmental and development NGOs, trade unions, faith and other civil society groups has concluded we’re facing a tremendous gap between developed and developing countries that will lead to environmental catastrophes.
The research is as fresh as the autumn sky, and it presents some worrying conclusions. Called “Fair Shares: A Civil Society Equity Review of INDCs,” the study shows that there is still a significant gap between what it will take to avoid catastrophic climate change and what countries have put forward so far. Now, this is a mild way to express what is going on.

To measure things, the study is using a comparison between what these countries pledge to do - called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs - and what they actually can do. You see, developed countries had used fossil fuels to develop their infrastructure, their industries, long before UN ever discussed the existence of climate change and pollution.

Some have used them ferociously and are now at the top of the game, so to speak. Meanwhile, under-developed states or even poor ones are far from that. The latter also lack the proper technology developments to use green means of progress straight away and step over the fossil-fuel industrialization part.

The research shows that large economic states such as the U.S., Russia, the E.U., Japan and so on are doing a lot less to fix the air we breathe compared to how much they polluted it burning fossil fuels in the first place. Even though they have pledged to improve their countries’ level of emissions, these organizations claim they are not using a worldwide counter. In other words, they are subjective and incoherent with what is indeed happening.

All countries must accept responsibility for meeting at least their fair share of the global effort to tackle climate change. Some countries have a much higher capacity to act than others, due to their higher income and wealth, the level of development and access to technologies. Some countries have already emitted a great deal for a long time and thrive from the infrastructure and institutions they have been able to set up because of this. The operationalization of equity and fair shares must focus on historical responsibility and capacity, which directly correspond to the core principles of the UN climate convention of ‘common but differentiated responsibility - with respective capabilities’ and the ‘right to sustainable development’.

Developed countries are forced to care for the poor: +3 degrees Celsius

It turns out that, even if they fulfill their pledges, all the developed countries are indebted to do more than just changing things at home. They are morally and historically responsible for helping emerging countries to improve their carbon emission levels, not to mention they actually afford to, compared to the needy.

What will seriously force these countries (or at least we can only hope it will) to do the right thing is this number: +3 degrees Celsius. This is how hot the world will get in the next decades if they don’t.

But how bad is that, anyway? Well, think of all the current climate disasters happening worldwide. Today, the world is 0.85 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels, yet millions are already experiencing devastating impacts. Imagine what would happen if things got 3.5 times warmer.
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