Recent IMF data shows that low-income nations suffer most from climate change events for which they bear no blame
The full article can be read in the Financial Times of October 17th 2017:
There is a chapter in the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, which concludes that the economic impact of weather shocks is felt most strongly in tropical countries, nearly all of which are low-income countries. Thus, they are the innocent victims of changes for which they bear no responsibility.
Wolf states in his FT article that, if little or no action is taken on global warming, average temperatures could rise by 4°C or more above pre-industrial levels, by the end of the century. Aware of the lengthy lead times needed if effective action is to be taken, both to mitigate climate change and to adapt to it, he states that rational people would act now.
He then goes on to identify the obstacles to such immediate action: economic interests, especially of those in the fossil fuel industry; free-marketeers, who despise both governments and environmentalists and reject the science behind global warming, because of its policy implications; a resistance to change in living standards and inconvenience, which is necessary for the future and for people in poorer countries.
The article provides graphic evidence for global warming, caused by human activity, as well as a bar chart showing those countries which emit the most carbon dioxide per head. The top four countries in this list are the US, Russia, Germany and Japan, with the US being way ahead of any other country. Other graphs demonstrate the increasing frequency of tropical cyclones and heat waves.
Wolf then goes on to outline the serious implications of the IMF’s analysis, most of which involve mitigating the effects of weather shocks and helping poorer countries to adapt to them.
Not the future but now
Letters to the Editor, Financial Times, 24th October 2017.
In a response to Wolf’s article, Chris Bain, director of CAFOD, states there is only one fault in Wolf’s analysis – that it describes the effects of climate change as being in the future, whereas Bain believes that it is impacting poorer countries right now. It is a present-day reality for countries in East Africa, who are experiencing drought, and others, like Bangladesh, where floods are forcing people from their homes. He quotes Pope Francis’s recent encyclical, which describes the earth as our common home, the care of which requires a “new and universal solidarity.”
The biggest obstacle to achieving this solidarity is, of course, the hedonistic march of the fossil-fuel industry, and the rich, towards more and more profits at the cost of the planet and the poorest in society.
This theme is also echoed in my book, Three Generations Left, featured on this website, which suggests in chapter 9, the concept of global co-operation, without which global warming will never be reversed. In Chapter 2, in a section entitled “Who are the worst polluters?”, I cite data, from Damon Matthews from Montreal, which clearly shows that it is the industrialised countries who are emitting the highest carbon emissions. He calculates the carbon debt of each of these countries, relating it to population size. Climate debt (those who pollute more than their fair share per head of population), also puts the US in the lead (highest climate debt), followed by Russia and Japan. The UK is sixth in this list.
In terms of individuals, the richest people in the world contribute to 85% of total carbon emissions.