President William Ruto, probably out of frustration, said organisers of the COP28 should consider making it the last such meeting since all that could come out of it is the pollution from vessels that will take delegates to Dubai in November, 2023.
Dr Ruto is somewhat right. Little has been achieved in terms of impact on climate change and COP27 turned out to be a lamentation of countries from the Global South that they were not getting funds that were promised during the COP26 meeting. During that climate change conference, it was agreed that as a matter of urgency, countries should strive towards securing global net zero by 2050 and keep the 1.5 degrees within reach.
Worryingly, researchers say there is now a 66 per cent chance the 1.5 degrees global warming threshold will be passed between now and 2027. The other key resolution was the rich countries to mobilise at least $100 billion per year in climate finance to mitigate effects of climate change in regions that pay the price, yet emit so little.
The pledge was made in 2009 but is yet to be met. Therefore, Dr Ruto's skepticism is well understood given the conference is, in his words, largely a talk show. However, he preempted a meeting to be held in Paris later this month to actualise some elements of the many COPs' and even take the narrative further by looking at health, climate change, debt, and relations between the global North and South.
France President Emmanuel Macron has invited world leaders, climate change influencers, activists, global leaders to deliberate on how the divide can be bridged. The summit for a new global financing pact seeks to build a new contract between the North and the South to address climate change and the global crisis.
Of late, President Ruto has been leading a protest over the inequalities perpetuated by the developed countries and Breton Woods institutions where developing countries are classified as high risk. As a result, the loans issued to these countries have higher interest rates and more punitive terms.
The latest such remarks were made in Djibouti earlier in the week with the president not only calling for Africa to be considered a partner and not a high risk borrower, but also the reconstitution of the UN Security Council to have an African country sit in the council as a permanent member.
All eyes are therefore on Paris to see whether there is light at the end of the tunnel. In the words of President Ruto: "Our discussions must therefore pay due attention to the fact that the prevalent unjustness of the international financial architecture, and the discriminatory practices inherent in development financing, are iniquitous insofar as they, directly and indirectly, exacerbate the vulnerability of the majority of humanity."
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In a statement on January 6, 2023, French Minister Catherine Colonna said the summit will aim to "build a new contract with the North and the South", in order to facilitate the access of vulnerable countries to the financing they need to address the consequences of ongoing and future crises.
The only way the world can combat global crises is if everyone is on board. It will only be possible if those doing the discussions put all the cards on the table. Conditions such as structural adjustment programmes should not be a one-way street where those with money do not give a hoot about what happens to thousands of lives affected by such policies for them to give loans.
A strong presence of countries from the global south, led by Barbados Premier Mia Mottley, will need to put up a strong case for righting the wrongs that have birthed crisis after crisis. Ranting after the fact will not help our course. The need for such a deal cannot be gainsaid; the platform is there; global south leaders should rise to the occasion or forever hold their peace.