It’s a Man-Made Climate Emergency with Inequality at the Center: Stark conclusions from the 6th IPCC Report
Climate Change is real, its happening now and its very much a human creation with solving fundamental human problems being at the center of avoiding the complete catastrophe, we have only begun to witness.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change works under the oversight of the UN and hosts currently 195 Nation-states as its members. The IPCC has acted as a watchdog against the depleting health of our Climate for more than three decades.
The IPCC recently published its 6th report titled “Climate Change 2021” which highlighted in detail the Physical Science Basis of the Climate Emergency we currently have.
It is an extensive document covering in detail the various extreme-weather phenomena that have become ever so common and their origins to Climate Change, Earth’s natural Climate Cycle, and human intervention post-industrial revolution as well as highlighted various heart-wrenching eventualities, should we choose to continue on our current path of the mindless slaughter of Nature.
However, the various doomsday scenarios and countries going underwater, etc. were not the most alarming section of the report. Although, it is really encouraging to see World Governments finally acknowledging and accepting what Climate Advocates and Scientists have been saying for so long. Yet, the most significant and perhaps shocking revelation was the conclusive evidence provided that Climate Change as we see and experience it, is one hundred percent a human creation with the human problem of inequality of wealth, access to information, justice, infrastructure, etc. at its absolute center.
This may seem strange at first glance. We presume Climate Change to be a scientific problem and it is. It does involve studying the Earth’s chemistry, geology, and whatnot. However, the “Crisis” in Climate Crisis has been added due to human intervention in the otherwise natural cycles of Climate that the Earth goes to. The report goes as far as to compare data from pre-and post-industrial eras showing how our carbon emissions have reached a 2000 year high, something that is simply unsustainable. But there’s a twist in the tale here, our emissions are only likely to go up in the future and not go down and this is exactly why Climate Change requires a study of science but also a detailed analysis of our current societies, social structures, and their dynamics. This is why solving the problem of inequality is at the center of avoiding a climate catastrophe.
Currently, India has 4 times the population of the USA and only emits half of what is emitted by the United States, with per capita emissions of an average US citizen more than 13 times that of an Indian. This is no coincidence, in fact, if the IPCC report is to be believed then per capita emissions are emerging as one of the best indicators of a country’s development. Citizens of wealthier countries like the USA are responsible for 4.5 times more emissions than the global average. Even countries like Canada and Qatar emit 3.8 and 7.8 times the global average per capita emissions respectively.
These figures tell us two things, one that the ongoing debate on the role of developed and developing countries in climate change, should be finally put to rest. The fact is whether developed or undeveloped no country can afford to ignore climate change. For example, even if Bangladesh’s own per capita emission is not even a fraction of that of the USA (more than 25 times), Bangladesh is still prone to be submerged underwater due to Climate Change and it has to protect itself from that, regardless whether the US accepts its responsibility or not.
India is currently the 3rd largest emitter of CO2 in the world, but its per capita emission remains only a fraction of the global average. This is because a significant population of India has not had access to electricity, energy etc. which are both required for human development and poverty alleviation but also one of the biggest sources of emissions in any country. This is why development and emissions have become synonymous and why developing countries can not help but emit more in the future.
And here lies the second conclusion, the developed countries have exploited the Climate for far longer than others and have reaped rich dividends from this massacre. If Climate Action has to create real results the developing countries need to transition to more expensive and cleaner sources of energy etc.
The math seems pretty clear on the subject, developed countries owe a large amount of debt to the developing countries of the modern world not just for compromising on the quality of our collective environment for personal greed but also for creating a hostage situation where the countries either accept the Climate Emergency or always lag behind the developed world even in delivering in essential services like health care, education, poverty alleviations, etc. for eternity.
So much was clear even in the historic Paris Agreement of 2015, where the developed world pledged a $100 billion transfer of funds to developing countries annually to engender this transition and alleviate the inequality. But such is the disparity that we live in, that the current IPCC report explicitly indicates that the sum is minuscule in comparison to what is required in reality and the funding needs to be much more.
The two conclusions go hand in hand and are a dire cry for help. Climate Change just like the Coronavirus does not recognize human borders and is a collective catastrophe. Shifting blames and responsibilities work well in bureaucratic set-ups but in the real world, while we argue and debate irreversible damage will have occurred. This, however, in no way means not accepting the reality of developing-developed state disparity and without solving this we will never be any closer to a solution than we are now. We are already on the path of breaking the targets we had set for containing Temperature Rise in the Paris Agreement in 2015 and the scientific evidence presented in the current IPCC report shows us that it is all human-inflicted, we need to take action yesterday.