West's climate proxy war: energy colonial diktats on poor nations
Western countries are disproportionately responsible for carbon emissions yet demand poor countries with almost no significant emissions to abide by the West's expensive climate agenda.
French President Emmanuel Macron found himself proposing reforms to the international financial systems and to the fight against climate change alone after his summit that aimed to bring together Western powers and developing nations fell short of his Western partners, Politico reported.
Over 40 leaders were planned to arrive in Paris to participate in France’s Summit for a New Global Financial Pact, aka "Macron's Summit" as it is called behind diplomatic closed doors. But aside from Germany, leaders of rich countries preaching climate change requirements and sustainable development did not show up.
Bulgaria and Slovakia - which are considered developing nations - are the only EU members planning to attend, and out of all G7 leaders, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will be the only participant.
The Western no-show comes despite them being disproportionately responsible for historical carbon emissions.
Discussion points on the summit's agenda include suggesting taxes based on shipping emissions or fossil fuel exports and increasing capital in development banks, in addition to introducing systemic reform among other suggestions.
Rich nations have been resisting increasing their financial engagement to support West-imposed roadmaps on how to battle climate change, claiming that it would take time to determine whether such a fund was necessary and how it would function.
Although $100 billion a year was pledged in 2009 in the UN by rich coutries for developing countries under a roadmap to fight climate change, it was never upheld by the parties that announced their commitment.
Another failed scheme is a 2021 pledge made by G20 members to rechannel $100 billion in IMF special drawing rights (SDR) from rich states to impoverished economies.
The Center for Global Development CGD revealed in 2022 that CO2 emissions produced by people in the West are astronomically larger than that produced by individuals in the Global South.
According to a CGD study, in just the first two days of January 2022, the average UK citizen was already responsible for more carbon dioxide emissions than someone from the Democratic Republic of the Congo would produce in an entire year.
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Highlighting the shocking emission gap, the report said each British citizen released 200 times the carbon of an average DRC citizen, meanwhile, a US citizen produced 585 times as much.
By the end of January, the carbon emitted by one Briton surpassed the annual emissions of citizens of 30 low- and middle-income nations, the study concluded.
Euan Ritchie, a policy analyst at CGD Europe, said his research was prompted by the “climate hypocrisy” of Western states, including that of the United States and Britain who claimed to end funding to fossil fuel projects in developing nations.
“At Cop26 there was lots of hand-wringing by rich countries about the extent to which aid and other development finance should finance fossil fuels in poorer countries,” he said. “The hypocrisy of this caught my attention.”
“Our analysis shows that in just a few days, the average person in the UK produces more climate emissions than people in many low-income countries do in an entire year. It would be a cruel irony if the countries that have least contributed to this problem won’t be able to have access to energy infrastructure.”
Until the date of the report - January 28, 2022 - published by The Guardian, the US had at least 24 pending fossil fuel projects that are estimated to be responsible for over 1.6 gigatons of potential climate emissions, while the United Kingdom was in the process of licensing oil and gas fields in the North Sea.
The director for energy and development at the California-based Breakthrough Institute, Vijaya Ramachandran, said the West is practicing a form of "colonialism" against poor nations when pressuring a total ban on fossil fuel projects, which will only lead to more poverty without leaving no actual impact on the world's carbon dioxide emissions.
“It’s very easy for rich countries to impose fossil fuel financing bans on poor countries, while at the same time increasing their own consumption of fossil fuels,” Ramachandran said. “It’s rank hypocrisy and it’s devastating for poor countries as they need a wide range of energy to fuel development."
“It’s well known renewable energy is intermittent and needs to be backed up by other sources. Telling African countries they just need solar is completely hypocritical and colonial.”
Ahead of the summit, African countries slammed the West's double standards regarding the exponential increase of funds poured into the war in Ukraine compared to a decline in aid provided to the whole continent.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD revealed that aid for Ukraine jumped in just one year from under a billion dollars to $16 billion, while that destined for the whole of Africa fell by eight percent to $29 billion.
During a joint meeting between the International Monetary Fund IMF and World Bank in Washington last April, "African countries expressed fears of a double standard on international aid," a French government official told AFP.
The conflict in Ukraine "lays bare the real face of the great powers in their action with regard to" Africa, a diplomat in Benin told the agency earlier this week, ahead of a conference in France hosted by President Emmanuel Macron on poverty and climate financing.
Africa was being "abandoned", the diplomat added.
In a conference on Ukraine's reconstruction plan that took place in London on Wednesday, the World Bank said it expects that almost $411 billion could be further pooled together.
"You see these enormous sums which at one time were considered an impossibility and which these days are considered possible," Niger's Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massoudou told the news agency.
This shows that the "resources and mechanisms exist" that could also be used to send assistance to Africa, he continued.
"There's a crisis of confidence" between donors and vulnerable countries, said Elise Dufief, a researcher at France's Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations IDDRI.
"When you see the crisis in Ukraine or North American banks which go bankrupt, the response comes very quickly."
Any changes to the global financial order require consensus and approval of rich countries that dominate the international bodies, such as the IMF and World Bank, which will be mostly responsible for implementing the new policies.
“When leaders don’t come even though they are given an opportunity to do so, they are making a mistake,” said a former French minister and a president of One NGO, an advocate for ending poverty.
“I hope the ministers attending instead will be able to make some real commitments,” Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said.
The summit in Paris, which is co-organized by India and Barbados, comes as Macron hopes that France could emerge as a central power between nations of the north and south amid fears of China's growing global influence.
In pursuit of this plan, the French leader plans to attend the BRICS summit in South Africa's Johannesburg next August and pull in non-alignment countries such as Brazil and India away from Russia.
For France, reforming the financial system is also considered a way to safeguard the function of the World Bank and the IMF, pillars of the post-WW2 Western world order, in the face of growing challenges from China and other emerging powers, which have been putting greater efforts to push for alternatives for the current international bodies, including BRICS and the SCO.
Former French ambassador and advisor at the Montaigne Institute, Michel Duclos, considered that this summit, within this context, serves “a French-American agenda."
China's Premier Li Qiang and Brazil's leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will be among over 20 African leaders attending Macron's summit, while Washington will be represented by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. EU President Ursula von der Leyen is also planning to attend.
“There could be an uncomfortable balance in the level of representation between developed and developing countries, and that's going to be really challenging for France to manage,” said Alex Scott, climate diplomacy lead at E3G think tank.
However, the summit should be judged based on its outcomes, she noted.
Climate proxy war
At the COP27 UN climate summit in Egypt in November 2022, Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission, put forth a proposal on behalf of the EU that would have it accept the creation of a loss and damage fund.
Based on his proposal, the European Union agreed to key demands made by the developing world regarding financial assistance for poor countries.
Loss and damage refer to the financial resources required for rescue and reconstruction following climate-related disasters, as well as the havoc that extreme weather can wreak on the physical and social infrastructure of developing nations.
Earlier this month, the United Nations held climate talks in Bonn, which was concluded after two weeks of dispute between participants over financial lines, dedicated to fulfilling the agenda to fight climate change.
At COP27, involved countries agreed that around $4 trillion to $6 trillion is required annually to decarbonize the global economy.
But taking part in this fund is almost impossible for poor countries that largely rely on international loans to secure the minimum required economic stability, let alone investing in green and renewable energy.
“Low-income countries are spending five times more resources on debt service than on climate action,” said Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation and one of the sponsors of the 2015 Paris climate accord.
While developed countries are calling for clean alternatives in the global system, their record-inflation rates in the past year, driven by their sanctions on Russia and funding the war in Ukraine, have diverted their attention from their climate agenda, despite ongoing public demands of other nations to stick to the green guidelines.
"Aid is not going to do it. We wish it would, but it won’t. And we're burning up and drowning. So we're not going to wait for it," Tubiana said.
Keep them in command
Some experts argued that the Paris gathering was rushed, noting that several governments said they only received the invitations last month. On the other hand, attendees of the Bonn summit, including NGO observers, criticized the French government for only disclosing a few details just a week ahead of the climate conference.
“The timeline of organizing this was a bit ambitious, and then not handled very well,” E3G's Scott said, stressing however that this step will increase the campaign momentum.
Western powers "are seeking an offer that gives more power to emerging countries, but still keeps them in command," he said.
The summit should pave the way for “a financial system that is good for the most vulnerable, and that enables climate action,” said Sara Jane Ahmed, financial advisor to the V20 group of finance ministers from developing countries.
“If we don't do this, then we're building two separate economies that will continuously be at odds with each other."