Developing nations equally guilty of climate sins

Climate change

THE wide and diverse concept of climate finance has many dimensions, standpoints and ideologies, hence it has never been fully unpacked. And as the impacts of climate change continue to worsen and become more frequent and disturbing, they situate developing nations against the developed industrialised countries, in the ongoing bruising debate. The climate compensation issue, with roots in history and colonialism, is a moral obligation which sufficiently needs to be acknowledged.

The African continent and other developing countries feel that industrialised countries should be held accountable for carbon emission sins, climate-induced loss and damage and loss of livelihood options. As the global polluting actors grudgingly agree and pledge to compensate developing countries, developing countries feel that their only role is to receive reparations money and nothing else.

Developing countries appear to be missing a crucial point in that they forget that they are also equally accountable for carbon emissions. They also have an equal duty and commitment to compensate their communities for loss and damages emanating from forced relocations, internal displacements, deforestation and land degradation, among others.

While the developing countries receive money for environmental damages and climate change impacts from industrialised countries, they also have a moral obligation to pay for their own carbon sins at home. The African continent and other developing nations cannot continue to receive climate finance, while their own domestic environmental atrocities are worsening unabated. Some of these countries have defaced their landscapes, forests and rivers into a sorry sight. Gullies and pits are everywhere, which have become a serious danger to both livestock and people. Water bodies have been polluted through sanctioned illegal mining activities and unsustainable agricultural practices, yet they demand compensation.

Since charity begins at home, developing countries need to demonstrate to the world that they walk the talk, by being accountable and leading by example by not practising the same unsustainable climate behaviours that they accuse industrialised countries of doing. A number of developing countries have committed environmental atrocities on their citizens and have never compensated them, yet they want reparations, while failing to extend the gesture to their own citizens. Therefore, developing nations must not turn a blind eye to their own climate injustices and expect good treatment from main polluters.

If industrialised economies should be accountable for their global climate sins, developing countries should also acknowledge their own environmental injustices. Communities in developing countries are over exposed to mostly State-sanctioned climate-induced harms, risks and hazards.

In this regard, African governments and other developing nations have collective responsibilities, moral and ethical obligations not to expose their communities to environmental risks. Many developing countries have not done enough to demonstrate empathy to their people and environment, which they have mortgaged to foreign suitors for a temple of silver and gold. It is high time developing countries stop playing the victim card when they are also equally committing the same climate sins that they blame industrialised countries for.

The destruction of vast forests in Africa, Brazil and Indonesia, polluting of water resources in many developing countries and the use of fracking as a methods of exploring gas and oil in the Okavango delta and the Zambezi valley have a major bearing on people’s livelihoods, wildlife movements and sanctuaries. Many developing countries are actually leasing their countries to the main polluting actors, while their populations always lose out on compensation, yet their leaders have taken the gospel of reparations, far and wide to Bonn, Glasgow, Paris and Cairo through conference of parties (COPs). Some developing countries think the world is blind and cannot see through their environmental carnage, leading to many health concerns as they try to trick and deceive the world and even themselves.

In many developing nations, the industrialised nations do not just participate in environmental damage in these countries without the blessings of the host nations, they do so through corrupt, opaque and murky deals, among other nefarious activities sanctioned by host nations. Just like during the days of slavery, although blacks were forcibly taken from their homelands, African chiefs had a hand in selling their own people to slave traders.

While some governments in developing countries would like citizens to see the inhuman nature of industrialised countries, they, however, do not want their citizens to see their governments’ environmental wrong doings at home or even to talk about them.

Therefore, it is high time, these nations stop playing to the gallery and acknowledge their own fair share of State-sanctioned environmental atrocities, loss and damage at home.

While it is clear and in the public domain too that industrialised countries have pledged to pay climate reparations to developing countries, many developing countries have not demonstrated the moral duty and empathy to compensate their local populations for domestic and local environmental destructions committed by governments and their proxies.

For these reasons, developing nations need to improve and provide moral leadership on sustainable climate action on their environments so that developed economies feel obliged to pay climate reparations. Developing countries need to put their citizens at the centre of environmental moral and ethical considerations because they are the most important stakeholders and beneficiaries.

Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on: [email protected].

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