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It’s time for climate justice: a Global South perspective on the fight against the climate crisis

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By Shoba Suri

· 9 min read

Historically, industrialized nations have been at the forefront of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, owing to their long-standing industrialization and economic growth. These emissions have been a major contributor to the current global climate crisis. However, progress in decarbonization has been slow and the burden of tackling climate change has been disproportionately placed on developing countries. Furthermore, many developing countries lack the financial resources to implement comprehensive climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. Industrialized countries have pledged to provide financial assistance to developing countries through instruments such as the Green Climate Fund, but the actual funding provided does not match the promised amounts, thus limiting the capacity of developing nations to effectively address the effects of climate change. Developing countries need to access clean and sustainable technologies in order to transition to a low-carbon economy. However, technology transfer from industrialized countries to the developing world has been limited due to intellectual property rights, high prices, and limited technology-sharing agreements. Although some industrialized nations have made progress in reducing emissions, the overall progress has not been sufficient to meet the Paris Agreement's goals.

Developing countries need to access clean and sustainable technologies in order to transition to a low-carbon economy.

The world’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis are being put at risk by a lack of ambitious emission reduction targets and comprehensive policies that are putting more pressure on developing countries to adapt to climate change. This is due to the fact that climate change impacts are not distributed equally across the globe, with some regions and populations being particularly vulnerable. For example, low-income populations, which often lack access to resources and clean water, are more likely to be affected by waterborne diseases, which are likely to become more common as temperatures increase. Furthermore, coastal regions where sea-level rises and storm surges are present can cause flooding, erosion and saltwater infiltration, which can have a negative impact on livelihoods and lead to displacement. Indigenous communities are particularly vulnerable to climate change, as they rely on natural resources for their livelihoods and are often associated with land-based activities. Furthermore, climate change can disrupt their traditional lifestyle and cultural practices, as well as lead to land degradation and biodiversity loss. Most importantly it impacts women and girls due to their social and economic roles in many societies. The Global South is particularly pertinent to the issue of climate justice due to its particular vulnerability and the disproportionate effects of climate change. Climate justice is a concept that emphasizes the importance of climate action in pursuit of sustainable development objectives, poverty reduction, and social justice. It draws attention to the fact that many of the countries of the Global South are confronted with considerable development challenges, such as poverty, inequalities, and restricted access to essential services. It is therefore essential to adopt climate policies that take into account the particular needs and objectives of these countries, and to ensure that no-one is left out in the cold when it comes to the shift to a low carbon economy. It is an integral part of the Global South's approach to the global climate crisis, and it is essential to share the burden of mitigating and adapting to climate change fairly across the world. Climate justice acknowledges that the world's most vulnerable are often the countries that have not contributed the most to the problem, and that developed countries have historically and persistently contributed to the problem by burning fossil fuels and producing greenhouse gases. This is especially true for the Global South, which is already facing the consequences of climate change in terms of rising sea levels and extreme weather events. Furthermore, climate change has exacerbated social and economic inequality, making it more difficult for those living in the global south to come out of poverty.

Climate change can disrupt their traditional lifestyle and cultural practices, as well as lead to land degradation and biodiversity loss.

The health and economic repercussions of climate change are among the most pressing challenges faced by the Global South. These impacts can have a significant impact on health, particularly in regions with limited resources and weak health systems. Warmer temperatures and alterations in rainfall patterns can result in the transmission of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Furthermore, air pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels can worsen respiratory conditions. In contrast, climate change can have a significant economic impact, particularly in regions that are heavily reliant on agriculture and resources. For instance, drought and other severe weather events can cause crop failures and decrease the productivity of fishing and other industries. The Global South has historically been at a lower rate of greenhouse gas emissions, yet is often the most exposed to the effects of climate change. To combat the climate crisis, the Global South faces a number of challenges, such as a lack of financial and technological resources to implement adaptation and mitigation measures, as well as a limited access to renewable energy sources. To address these issues, the international community should provide support to the Global South through the Green Climate Fund, as well as technology transfer initiatives. Additionally, the Global South has considerable potential for renewable energy sources, such as solar energy, wind energy, and hydroelectricity. The agricultural sectors of the Global South,  are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as drought, flooding, and rainfall variations. To combat this, it is essential to invest in agricultural practices that are more resilient to climate change, including irrigation systems that are more efficient and crops that are more resistant to drought. In order to build resilience to the effects of climate change, the Global South must focus on adaptation efforts. This includes the implementation of climate-smart infrastructures, early warning and response systems, and natural solutions. Adaptation strategies should be designed and implemented with local communities in mind, taking into account their context-specific needs and vulnerabilities. Political will is also essential, as countries face political and economic difficulties in prioritizing climate action. Public awareness and advocacy as is the promotion of climate-positive policies and initiatives, both domestically and internationally. To effectively address the climate crisis, it is essential for all countries to work together to reduce GHG emissions and to support vulnerable communities, with a particular emphasis on the Global South's most vulnerable communities. The disproportionate effects of climate change must be addressed by emphasizing climate justice and recognizing the need to provide support to the most disadvantaged communities. This can include financial and technical assistance to implement adaptation and mitigation strategies, and the empowerment of communities to be involved in the decision-making process and to advocate for their interests. Additionally, a global effort must be made to reduce GHG emissions and retard the rate of change, especially in the high-income nations that have historically been most affected by climate change. By emphasizing climate justice, the response can be fair and we can all contribute to a more equitable future for future generations.

The disproportionate effects of climate change must be addressed by emphasizing climate justice and recognizing the need to provide support to the most disadvantaged communities.

In order to effectively address the climate crisis, it is essential for industrialized nations to come together and work. Efforts should be based on a spirit of global solidarity that recognizes the interconnectedness of all countries and the imperative to create a more equitable and sustainable future. To achieve this, the global North and the global South must work together to bolster the resilience and adaptation to climate change of the Global South. This can be achieved through a variety of strategies, such as providing climate finance, increasing funding to support mitigation and adaptation initiatives in developing countries, and establishing transparent and accessible financing mechanisms to ensure efficient use of funds. The Global North can offer technical assistance, education and knowledge-sharing platforms to bolster the capabilities and adaptability of the Global South to climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as to promote innovation and resilience at local level. By collaborating on climate-related research, data and scientific know-how-sharing, and addressing common challenges, greater political and policy success can be achieved. Furthermore, through South-South partnerships, relevant technologies, policies, and approaches that are relevant to specific regional environments can be transferred, thus contributing to sustainable development and growth in developing countries. This could include financial assistance for climate adaptation, sharing of disaster management knowledge, and providing insurance and risk reduction services. The North and South can also support sustainable development initiatives that include climate mitigation and adaptation for urban planning, agriculture and natural resource conservation, as well as the promotion of eco-friendly industries. Finally, collective responsibility and public engagement can be fostered through joint campaigns, education initiatives and media collaboration to promote sustainable behavior globally.

Scaling up Climate Finance to the extent of the climate crisis can be achieved by increasing public finance contributions, developing novel financing mechanisms, and increasing private sector investment for climate-related initiatives in poor countries.

Reforming the manner in which rich countries provide financial assistance to poor countries in the event of a climate crisis necessitates a comprehensive strategy that addresses the deficiencies of existing financial mechanisms and guarantees adequate and efficient support. This starts by adhering to the financial objectives established by international agreements, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Paris Agreement (Article 9). The Paris Agreement requires ‘developed country Parties to provide financial resources to support developing country Parties in their efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change’, in accordance with their existing commitments under the Convention. Additionally, scaling up Climate Finance to the extent of the climate crisis can be achieved by increasing public finance contributions, developing novel financing mechanisms, and increasing private sector investment for climate-related initiatives in poor countries. Finally, shifting the focus of Climate Finance away from loans and towards grants and concessional funding is essential in order to ensure that climate finance is reaching the most vulnerable and communities, thus enabling them to take effective climate action. Climate finance should be designed to provide long-term, predictable financial support to promote sustainability and climate resilience, as well as to address the issue of climate-induced losses and damage in vulnerable countries. Participatory decision-making should be conducted by the developing countries with an equal voice, taking into account their interests and priorities during the development, implementation, and assessment of financial mechanisms. To achieve this, inclusivity should be established in international climate negotiations, and developing countries should be integrated into the governance structures of the climate finance institutions. All in all, the Global South's response to the climate crisis necessitates a multi-faceted approach that takes into account the constraints of limited resources, the availability of renewable energy, the effects of climate-induced agriculture, the political will of the international community, and the capacity of rich countries to provide equitable and effective assistance to poor countries, as well as the need to foster international cooperation in order to achieve sustainable and climate resilient development for all.

This story was originally published by ORF. illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Dr. Shoba Suri is Senior Fellow Health Initiative at Observer Research Foundation. She holds a PhD in Nutrition & Physiology from Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, India. She has written extensively in media, scientific journals, book chapters on food, nutrition, health, climate, gender, environment etc. She has more than 50 research publications. She is a trained Infant and Young Child Feeding Counselling Specialist.

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