Glasgow, Scotland – People from nations most vulnerable to the wrath of climate change demanded immediate action and reparations from rich countries that fuelled the climate emergency.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum of 55 nations, which advocates for countries in South Asia who are facing the worst effects of the climate crises, has warned world leaders that words alone will not suffice as the climate crisis continues to intensify.
“This is a global justice issue because the poorest and most vulnerable are by far the hardest hit, but also the least responsible [for climate change],” Abul Kalam Azad from Bangladesh told a press conference.
Already, Bangladesh is facing the consequences of climate change. It is estimated by 2050 about 17 percent of the South Asian nation’s coastlines will be inundated as sea levels rise.
About 30 million people will be forced to move inland – an estimated six million already have.
‘Fighting for lives’
Kenya is another nation facing this crisis. There are an estimated 2 million people who are hungry as a result of climate change. Estimates suggest the temperature could rise 2.5 degrees Celsius by 2050 – further devastating food production in the East African country.
“There is a lot to fight for at COP26, but most importantly we are here because we are fighting for the lives and livelihoods that are at stake by the decisions going to be made at COP26,” said Elizabeth Wathuti, a Kenyan climate activist.
Her message to world leaders was: “Every moment you delay, more people will suffer.”
Developed countries are overwhelmingly responsible for the climate crisis, having produced about 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution.
Members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum – which also includes Ethiopia, Vietnam, the Maldives, and the Philippines – said leaders must commit clearly in writing in COP26’s final document to a “Glasgow Emergency Pact“.
This would include $100 billion per year being transferred from developed countries to developing countries. Although rich nations made this financial promise a decade ago, they have failed to fulfill it for the countries most affected by climate change.
Forum members demanded that nations take stronger steps to reduce their emissions. The 1.5C temperature rise benchmark to prevent the worst climate disasters has been rapidly disappearing with only eight years remaining.
Climate Action Tracker Group reported this week that current promises by nations around world were being fulfilled in a report. temperatures will rise 2.4CBy the end the century.
“A 2.4C world is a death sentence for communities like mine,” said Vanessa Nakate from Uganda. “2.4 degrees is total global devastation, it is suffering, suffering, suffering. It is disaster.”
Scientists warn that extreme weather events are already becoming more common as temperatures rise. This means that every tenth degrees of warming can spell doom for climate-vulnerable communities.
‘Where are these people going?’
Harjeet Singh, Climate Action Network, stated that 23 million people were forced from their homes by climate change in 2019. The number rose to 30 million a year later, according to Harjeet Singh from the Climate Action Network.
“Are we asking ourselves where are these people going?” he asked.
Singh said negotiations in Glasgow must produce a global fund – paid for by developed nations that caused the emergency – to assist those around the world suffering through the effects of climate change.
“We urge leaders to step up and move beyond rhetoric to deliver climate justice here and now,” he said.
“The leaders who have come here and made grand announcements about what they’re going to do in the future – 10 years, 20 years, 30 years from now, we cannot trust them if they’re not supporting people right now.”
Getting climate reparations acknowledged in COP26’s final communique is crucial for dozens of nations in the Global South.
“Finance for adaptation is critical, but for many of us in vulnerable countries adapting to climate change is no longer enough. You cannot adapt to starvation, you cannot adapt to extinction,” said Nakate.