There is a huge amount of uncertainty when it comes to the effect that climate change will have on people living in low-income countries. Focusing on GDP per capita, the range of estimates over the next fifty years covers magnitudes (and the potential impacts will spread far beyond that measure). But what we do know about how to reduce the impact of climate change emphasizes that this growing threat makes development an even more urgent priority.
CGD Policy Blogs
The world’s poorest countries—those classified as low- and lower-middle-income—contribute just one seventh of global emissions despite being home to half of the global population. A just solution to these countries’ dual challenges of climate change and development should be a central concern of the COP, and political realities suggest the best thing richer countries could do in that regard is develop cost-competitive low carbon technologies as a byproduct of speeding their own path to decarbonization.
Three ways that COP-26 could deliver for those countries are to properly define what counts as “new and additional” climate finance, make sure carbon markets rather than aid pays for the additional costs of mitigation in poorer developing countries, and agree to exempt the poorest countries from carbon tariffs.
Future generations are (currently) blameless, our actions leave them in peril, but we can do something about it. All of this is utterly true of climate change, and it is why rich countries (that disproportionately pollute) should take the lead in paying for climate change mitigation and adaptation.