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Indybay Feature
The Rich's Deal
by Susi Stuhlinger
Monday Dec 6th, 2021 4:10 AM
The richest percent of the world's population accounts for fifteen percent of global emissions, which is twice as much as the entire poorer half of the world's inhabitants together are responsible for CO2. Once again, the rich countries benefit from the deal negotiated in Glasgow.
CLIMATE SUMMIT
The Rich's Deal
By Susi Stühlinger
[This article published on 11/18/2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.woz.ch/2146/klimagipfel/der-deal-der-reichen.]

The Glasgow climate summit is history. Even if the frustration about the un groundbreaking results seems to be great for some – there is actually no reason for disappointment: Only those who had expectations can be disappointed. And from a realistic perspective, there was little reason for this in advance. The British Presidency's mantra for the summit was "cash, coal, cars and trees". This strategy should guarantee that successes could be announced beyond the summit – in the form of sectoral agreements in these same areas.

With regard to the crucial issue of climate justice, this announcement resembled a declaration of bankruptcy in advance. Instead of talking about the historical responsibility of the industrialized nations or how the consequences of climate change for the world's poorest could be mitigated, it was all about technocratic pseudo-solutions and unleashed markets. A disappointment? For extreme optimists, perhaps. For everyone else: the ordinary course of things.

Not surprisingly, the clarity with which the colonial legacy of the West came to light in the negotiations is also not surprising. Alok Sharma, conservative British politician and president of the 26th World Climate Change Conference (COP26), shed crocodile tears over the conduct of China and India, which had watered down the paragraph of the final declaration on the coal phase-out at the last minute – creating the perfect scapegoat. The behavior of both delegations is completely rational: as long as the Western world shirks its historical responsibility and withholds the financial resources necessary for transformation and adaptation, it would be unwise from a tactical point of view to make too many concessions. Meanwhile, the finger pointing at China and India distracts from the real failure of the industrialized nations: The proposal to create a fund to compensate for damage caused by climate change, supported by 135 states, has been sabotaged by the US, the EU and other rich countries.

Instead of concrete plans for effective greenhouse gas reductions, the international community prefers to continue to rely on the net-zero concept. In plain language: Postpone the turnaround to the day after tomorrow and rely on currently hardly tested technologies for the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere or, worse, for the artificial modification of the same – with unforeseeable consequences.

And once again, the motto is: The market should regulate it. To this end, a great deal of effort is put into complex mechanisms for emissions trading without granting those affected by such projects the right to free, prior and informed consent. Switzerland is exemplary and concludes bilateral agreements in this area that are intended to take human rights into account – which does not change the fact that it buys the right from developing countries to continue to live beyond their means at the expense of the planet. The richest percent of the world's population accounts for fifteen percent of global emissions, which is twice as much as the entire poorer half of the world's inhabitants together are responsible for CO2. Once again, the rich countries benefit from the deal negotiated in Glasgow.

Finally, there is hope. Despite all the omissions, despite all the open questions. Measured against the 2030 targets, the world is still heading for a warming of 2.4 degrees. Realistically, the 1.5-degree target may not be achievable. But the affirmation in Glasgow that it still wants to stick to it is all the more important. Without the pressure of the street, without Fridays for Future, without the countless activists who are fighting against the destruction of the planet by the juggernaut of global capitalism – last year alone more than 220 of them were murdered – we would not even be here. All is not lost yet. So the slogan is: Don't give up. That counts now more than ever.
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