COP27 heralds a trend that historical injustices will be amended
Published: Dec 01, 2022 07:32 PM
Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

The recently concluded UN's Climate Change Conference (COP27) left no doubt that the Global South is rising to its full potential on the global stage, by shaping and leading discussions on the most pressing issue of climate change. 

Held in Egypt, the conference was dubbed the African COP where developing countries, including those in Africa, South America and Asia, strongly influenced ongoings to determine an ambitious framework to tackle climate change.

In the last decade and increasingly in this decade, the Global South's voices on matters of global interest such as growth and development have become stronger. Developing countries have shown an unrelenting determination to wield a unified voice that can no longer be ignored.

No longer passive recipients of aid and support, developing countries have pushed for partnerships of equals. A partnership reminiscent of the Africa and China collaboration that has seen the continent achieve accelerated growth in infrastructure, connectivity and their respective GDPs.

Against this backdrop and throughout discussions and negotiations that spanned over a period of two weeks, the Global South took center stage with the Global North taking a more docile role.

Environmental activists, representatives from non-governmental organisations, community leaders and governments from the South put developing countries under the spotlight. They particularly challenged the Global North for undermining their own promises on adapting to and mitigating climate change. 

As the conference unfolded, it became clear that the Global North is significantly losing ground with regard to the power and influence it once held over developing countries. In Egypt, the Global South was not pushing to be included, but proactively and consistently setting the tone and pace of discussions throughout the life of the conference.

By taking a tough stance against the Global North, largely constituting of wealthier carbon emitting nations, the message was clear- it will no longer be business as usual.

There is a significant number of poor and highly vulnerable nations in the Global South extremely affected by the impact of climate change. There are communities therein that are reaching the edge of their climate change adaptability.

In the last 10 years, industrially developed countries have stalled conservations on loss and damages, in other words, the issue of providing financial assistance to poorer and vulnerable nations at the forefront of ongoing climate change disaster.

Climate vulnerability hotspots are in the Global South regions of Africa, South America and Asia. Not only are millions of people at risk from climate change catastrophes including devastating impacts on their GDPs, developed countries are far behind their annual climate finance commitment of $100 billion that started in 2020 and will end in 2025.

Against this backdrop, the Global South managed to raise a unified voice, challenging industrially developed countries over their historical responsibility behind growing harmful greenhouse gases emissions and the consequent impact of said gases on the Global South. 

More so, bearing in mind that while the 10 countries most affected by climate change are in Africa, the African continent contribution to all released carbon is estimated at 3 percent. It is this gap between emissions and effects of climate change on one hand, and financial responsibility of adaptation and mitigation efforts that dominated discussions.

So strong and adamant were voices from the Global South that unlike during previous conferences, industrially developed nations addressed the elephant in the room. This led to a break through agreement to provide "loss and damage" funding to vulnerable nations hardest hit by effects of severe climate change.

The breakthrough is ground breaking in more ways than one. It is expected to boost the capacities of poor nations highly vulnerable to climate change to adapt to the inevitable impacts of the ongoing climate change, but it also reveals a shift in geopolitics.

It appears that the old days of dominance from the Global North are slowly and surely coming to an end. Developing countries have proven that they can take a stand, unite and demand accountability and justice for historical missteps from the Global North.

What, only a decade ago seemed like an insurmountable outcome - a united Global South firmly addressing historical injustices wielded by more developed nations - is today becoming a reality.

This begs the question, having shown the global community that developing countries can push developed countries to make tough decisions, is the golden era of world dominance from the Global North coming to an end?

If COP27 is a sign of things to come, there is no doubt that the world is entering a new era, an era where the Global North will be required to make amends for historical injustices and it has started with the pressing issue of climate change. 

The author is a Kenya-based journalist. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn