COP and coping countries | Sunday Observer

COP and coping countries

27 November, 2022

It took a last ditch effort for the rich countries to agree to a loss and damage payment plan for the poor affected by climate change. It almost did not happen at the concluded COP27.

Part of the reason may be that for some folk including world leaders, the climate change catastrophe has become a part of a cliché.

To them it’s something to contend with rather than to deal with. It’s also something in the nature of a what some people do in order to steal the thunder, which is to ‘appropriate’ things which they deem are useful to them personally, and would further their careers.

Or they could build things out of nothing. For example there are those who build entire investment portfolios invoking climate change and claiming that this or that is the number one important investment of our time.

By making such claims they attract a great deal of investment and then pump and dump on some of the shares they rustle up with such promotions. But what is in fact done about the cause of climate change? Not much.

It’s the richer countries that claim climate change is important to the people of this world. They started it and those who espoused the scientific theory about climate change were from the well to donations.


Climate change deniers were castigated by the rich nations. But then the poor began to feel the effects of climate change and countries such as Pakistan became inundated with uncharacteristic flooding.

But it seems the rich countries that earlier espoused the climate cause then became the ‘climate deniers.’ How else could we explain the fact that the loss and damage plan and package that was arrived at during ‘extra-time’ at the COP27 summit almost did not materialise?

It did materialise in the end because countries such as Pakistan were persistent.

Of course much has been said about reparations for colonialism and so forth, and there are indeed a few colonising countries that made apologies or apologies of sorts for damage suffered by the colonised when colonialism was at its height.

But reparations with regard to colonialism do not have a good name. The rich countries in any case did not sponsor that project. They do not even sponsor the projects to return artifacts that were stolen from museums and archaeological sites from countries that were colonised.

Their soft-peddling of issues with regard to reparations for damage done due to colonialism is therefore to be expected. But when it came to climate change the rich countries championed the cause.

The rich countries also are the chief offenders when it comes to emissions, but it’s the wealthy nations that were first sensitized to the fact that over-dependence on fossil fuels is not just damaging to the environment, but would lead to chaos one day and a dearth of energy-sources because they are talking about a finite resource.

But more germane than everything was the fact that the science was clear about the effects of greenhouse gases and climate change. Something had to be done and done fast, said scientists who had mostly done their research in Western based educational and research institutions.

But if this was the case how was it that at the first call for a fund to compensate poor nations for damage caused by environmental degradation and climate change, the rich nations baulked?

That teaches us something that most researchers and political scientists have pointed out for a long time without convincing people. The rich nations are not going to take responsibility for their actions a lot of the time unless they are forced to, and in the case of climate change the rich nations were made to look far too much like hypocrites which made it imperative that a deal be made at the last minute with regard to damage and compensation for poor nations that suffer the affects of climate change.

In any event not much has been achieved at the COP27 conference recently concluded, and these climate action parleys are little more than photo-opportunities in the end because no significant drops in emissions are ever achieved.

It’s why activists such as Greta Thunberg do not want to be seen at these events, as they are seen as ‘green washing’ affairs at which there is some pretense that there is something tangible being done to ensure that climate change is addressed in a meaningful way while emissions are reduced. But there has never been any significant reduction of emissions, and conference participants do not expect that because oil prospectors and gas prospectors and others in the fossil fuel industry play a big part at these parleys.

As for the loss and damage agreement that was reached, it seems that few expect it to be honored at least in the way that poorer countries want.

As far as economic issues are concerned, the poorer countries being treated in a cavalier way has come to be expected as it is a hangover from colonialism and all that, even though that is in never an excuse.

But at COP27 and the previous climate summits consensus emerged at least at a surface level that climate change is something different and the whole world is in it together.

But apparently when it comes to brass tactics and in fact doing something tangible, the whole world is definitely not in it together.

That the richer countries are pledging in some way to fund the poorer that are hit by climate change related calamities is in some quarters heralded as an achievement, but those who are sincerely involved in the fight against climate change know that there were no achievements worth talking about at COP27. It was essentially a failure as all previous climate summits of this order were.

It was a failure because delegates talked and talked and achieved nothing in terms of real reductions of emissions as had been the case at all previous summits.

This brings us to the original question — who are the real climate change deniers? They must be the heads of state from all the countries that participate, the rich ones in particular, even though most heads of state, whether they represent the rich or the poor, don’t seem to care much about affecting climate change in a way that’s real and tangible and can be felt by way of calculable reductions of emissions.

All this of course is evidence of the global rich-poor divide in much more stark terms than it could have ever been imagined. The rich continue to rack up emissions and endanger the planet but are in effect in climate change denial because no matter how readily they accept climate change as a fact, it’s the poorer nations that are trying to hold the rich to account, and at least make them pay and make them reduce emissions.


So far these climate conferences such as the annual charade of the COP climate parleys have been nonsense mostly because people rack up more jet travel miles and add to emissions just to be there at the conference.

Of course a week’s jet emissions are deemed insignificant and in the larger scheme of things they definitely are, but then it’s like rich delegates discussing world poverty over a scrumptious banquet which is incidentally how global poverty has been discussed most of the time in any event.

But at least when it comes to climate change and the threat to the planet due to emissions, a phenomenon being seen as obvious, there could have been a different approach, but there isn’t.

World leaders are chided when they don’t show up at COP27 and other similar environment summits but then nobody considers the fact that perhaps not going is better than participating in a photo-op event that achieves practically nothing — at least nothing relative to the urgency of the situation.

Perhaps these summits would show up the disparities between rich and poor though that would at least underscore the fact that the divide between rich and poor nations is so real and not something that cannot be ignored or wished away anymore, as it has been done over the years.