Equilibrium & Sustainability

Least Developed Countries call for large emitters to step up

AP-Scott Heppell

Members of the United Nations’ Least Developed Countries (LDCs) cohort called upon the world’s largest emitters to scale up their greenhouse gas reductions commitments at a COP26 climate summit forum on Wednesday morning.

“We are 46 countries — we are 1 billion people,” said LDC Chair Sonam Wangdi, secretary of the National Environment Commission for the Royal Government of Bhutan. “We have contributed the least to this climate change problem; we emit less than 1 percent of the global emissions. Yet we suffer disproportionately every day.”

One in every 10 people in the LDCs are impacted by the effects of climate change, meaning that their “lives depend on decisions that are made here in Glasgow,” according to Wangdi. Without drastic action, citizens of these nations will continue to suffer and face property destruction, he added, calling for global emissions to be cut in half by 2030.

“We cannot wait any longer,” Wangdi said. “We in fact would like to request governments, especially the big emitters, to stop skirting responsibility. And it’s time to address this crisis, which has taken us head on.”

Gebru Endalew, a former chair of the LDC group from Ethiopia, also stressed the critical role that the private investors can play in terms of ramping up climate finance for low-income countries.

“The engagement of the private sector is very crucial, especially if you look at huge investments on renewable energy,” Endalew said. “We need the private sector.”

Both Wangdi and Endalew also addressed a target set by developed countries in 2010, which aimed to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 for developing countries — a goal that still has not been met, but which various Western leaders, including U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry, said could occur soon

Wangdi said that there needs to be a clear assessment tool to quantify the funds that do come in on an annual basis. He expressed some optimism, however, that decisions being made at COP26 would lead to some “clear milestones.”

“We want to get into, in fact, a very structured process for this dialogue,” Wangdi added. “And this must happen here at Glasgow, at COP26.”

Bhutan is one of only three countries in the world — along with Panama and Suriname — to become carbon negative — an achievement celebrated with the establishment of a new Coalition of Carbon-Negative Countries on Tuesday night.

The coalition, led by Panama, aims to harness the accomplishments of its member nations by championing policies for carbon tax exemptions, rewarding countries that manage emissions with advantageous terms from financial institutions, assistance programs for vulnerable nations and preferential terms of trade, a news release from the group said.

Bhutan, according to Wangdi, is not only carbon negative, but also has 72 percent to 73 percent forest cover and has reserved more than 51 percent of its lands for parks and wildlife sanctuaries, while preserving 60 percent of its land for the future.

“Yet — we are suffering the impacts of climate change,” Wangdi said. “We have done so much, but we are not protected from the impacts of climate change.”

Tags bhutan Climate change mitigation Climate change policy COP26 Glasgow John Kerry LDCs Least developed countries Panama Sonam Wangdi Suriname UN Climate Summit United Nations Climate Change Conference

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