How is Climate change impacting developing countries Climate change is one of the biggest threats to human kind today. It also poses a unique and general challenge at the global level. It concerns everyone on this planet. But the people likely to suffer most from the impacts of climate change are those least responsible for causing it. It is widely recognised that the developing world as a whole is expected to suffer more from the devastating effect of climate change. The most immediate effect of climate change, which we are already noticing, is extreme weather. The changes in seasons and the increase in catastrophic droughts, floods, hurricanes and typhoons, are destabilizing not only world food production but also our ecologically fragile political and economic systems. As the price of food and energy goes steadily up, real wages have gone down, and thus extreme weather threatens to erode many of the gains made by the developing world after the end of political colonialism in the last fifty years. It is well known that for example, Africa is already a continent under pressure from climate stresses and is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Food security, already a humanitarian crisis in the continent, is likely to be further aggravated by climate variability and change, HIV/AIDs, poor governance and poor adaptation. Vulnerability to climate change is not only related to environmental forces, but to social conditions, too. It is not just developing countries that are more or less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, but certain groups of their population. For example, due to their low capacity to adapt, the poor are the most vulnerable group within various developing countries. Women, in particular with their disproportionate share of the poor, are therefore among the most vulnerable groups in developing countries. In many parts of Africa, climate change threatens to unravel women’s lives undermining decades of efforts aimed at improving women’s lives and livelihoods. Unfortunately, women in rural areas lack knowledge on the imminent dangers posed by climate change. The frequency and severity of climate extremes often leave women unable to cope due to the fact that women often have to juggle their reproductive roles and productive roles. The rural poor in many developing countries are more dependent for their livelihood on natural resources that are threatened by climate change. Some of the factors that influence the higher vulnerability of the rural poor are disasters including the lack of means and assets to ensure their own safety in situations of flooding, landslides and storms. With changes in the climate, traditional food sources become more unpredictable and scarce. This exposes them to loss of harvests, often their sole sources of food and income. The good news is that we have the power to create positive change. A different world is not only possible, but it too, is already coming into being. There is evidence to show that a rise in carbon emissions does not necessarily mean an increase in development, and that there are many real world examples of how cutting carbon emissions have been combined with real and lasting improvements in human welfare. It is not a coincidence that the nations which have succeeded in both cutting carbon emissions and strengthening the economy are also some of the most democratic states in the world. Building capacity, developing people, growing entrepreneurship, and promoting innovation are seldom well done under dictatorships.
Another critical piece in COP17 is finance
Expectations for COP17 in Durban We need a fair and just legally binding global climate change agreement. Therefore what we hope to see at COP 17 are the world’s governments giving thanks that we still do have national and world governments with some semblance of moral authority. The origin of the UN itself lies in many people’s dreams of creating a just and peaceful world. We call on those governments to give effect to the historic mission of the UN, and to take powerful and decisive action to enact a legally binding agreement which sees immediate cuts in world carbon emissions, with long term cuts to 350 parts carbon per million by 2030 and 250 ppms by 2050. We call on governments to do this while they still have the power to sign legally binding agreements, provided to them through reasonably democratic processes. This good fortune may not last forever. Another important outcome for us is that COP17 in Durban does not become the place where Kyoto Protocol dies! At the moment Kyoto Protocol is the only instrument we have to force nations to cut down their carbon emissions, it is not a great one but it is better than ending up with a protocol that has no teeth to bite! We want developed countries to be more ambitious and raise the levels of their mitigation targets. Another critical piece in COP17 is finance. There is no question that financing is essential in addressing the current climate crisis. Perhaps of all the areas of the negotiations, financing demonstrates most explicitly the various power relationships between and among governments and other stakeholders. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) must pool new, additional, public, grant-based and predictable funds. These must be sourced from developed countries in accordance with the principles of historical responsibilities and common but differentiated responsibilities. The Green Climate Fund should be created as a gender-responsive climate finance mechanism by mainstreaming gender perspective across all funding windows and funding instruments. For the financing architecture to be responsive to the needs of women and communities, gender must be integrated in all aspects of the financing, from the management and operations of the financing architecture to the selection criteria of the projects to the monitoring of these projects. It is also worthwhile that it include mechanisms through which organized women’s groups and communities can directly access the funds. This can likewise be seen as a political alternative in contexts where governments have been repressive and unresponsive. Funding under the GCF should be guided by the principles that funds will not be used for purposes that will harm low-carbon, climate-resilient and gender-equitable development objectives, that are based on risky technologies, and that violate human rights, including women’s rights, in the recipient countries. Finally, financing is not the be all and the end all. For quite some time, the negotiations on financing have largely determined the process of the other negotiations. Indeed this has been a practical consequence. But there are still more practical considerations for the rest of the negotiations like Adaptation, Technology and Capacity Building and other activities to move forward. Not because of the urgency of the need to address the climate crisis. But, because there are far more urgent issues and concerns which need not be determined by the negotiations on financing and even the rest of the negotiations. In addition, there are more basic issues such as access to land and resources such as food and water, citizenship and conflicts, among others which must be immediately addressed and which must not be held hostage by the negotiations in financing and beyond. Unless these older issues are addressed, the availability of more money might only fuel further dispossession, indignity and disempowerment. In conclusion, we call on the South African government to lead by example in these negotiations. When the informal settlement is on fire, you do not stop to ask who started the fire. You put out the fire first and sort out the issue of responsibility afterwards. At least, that is the way we do things in Africa. That is why we will expect our government to exercise ethical leadership for both the continent and the developing South at COP 17 and beyond. The fact that the Green Economy creates jobs, relieves poverty and promotes sustainable human development is almost a side issue. Through the National Climate Change Response White Paper, South Africa should deviate from the business as usual and set clear targets on how they will reduce their own carbon emissions. The time for being cautious with issues of emission reduction is way over! South African government should be more courageous in COP17 otherwise we will end up with a collapse of the multilateral climate talks. We are the children of Mandela, Biko and Sobukwe. We expect our government to act morally because it is the right thing to do! Written by Mrs Dorah Marema of GenderccSA-Women for Climate Change and Dr. Yvette Abrahams of the Commission on Gender Equality