The World Today for October 29, 2021
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Recently, Larry Fink, the chief executive of Black Rock, one of the world’s biggest asset managers, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times with a surprising call to arms. To curb climate change, he wrote, the richest countries in the world are going to have to spend loads of money to make sure the poorest are able to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Fink is not necessarily being altruistic, CNBC noted. He expects that people like him will earn fat returns from investing in countries that must make great strides in modernizing their economies and developing renewable energy infrastructures.
But Fink’s general thrust captures the sentiments of the moment. South African Environment Minister Barbara Creecy, for example, intends to negotiate for larger financial transfers from the developed world to developing nations when she attends the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties, a United Nations-sponsored climate summit referred to as COP26 that will take place in Glasgow between Oct. 31 and Nov. 12, Reuters noted.
South Africa, for example, uses coal to generate more than 75 percent of its electricity. It’s the world’s 12th-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the fourth-most carbon-intensive economy on the planet. Changing that system will take billions if not trillions of dollars.
The problem is that rich countries have already promised to step up to stop climate change but have failed to live up to their promises. At the UN climate summit in Copenhagen 12 years ago, the world’s most affluent countries pledged to spend $100 billion a year to help poorer countries by 2020 to transition away from fossil fuels as part of an international agreement to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial norms.
As Nature wrote, the rich countries fell short by at least $20 billion or by as much as $80 billion depending on which accounting methods one uses. South Africa’s Creecy, meanwhile, estimates that rich countries need to increase their giving target to $750 billion annually after 2025.
As a result, a sense of pessimism has set in among environmental activists and officials preparing for COP26, according to the Washington Post. Violent storms, droughts, melting glaciers and rising sea levels, ecological destruction and human displacement are likely to increase in the near future. Officials and investors aren’t prepared to spend the amounts necessary to avert or mitigate disasters, though.
Writing in an op-ed in the Guardian, activist Greta Thunberg, who is 18 years old, lamented how no heroes have emerged with grand plans to save humanity. All she hears from politicians, she wrote, is, “blah blah blah.”
In other words, short-term gains appear to have overwritten the primordial urge among adults to make the world a better place for their children.
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