Alok Sharma hosted a pre-COP26 summit in London last week where he was attempting to shape the agenda and outcome of the event. India, which due to industrialisation in recent decades has raised the living standards of hundreds of millions of her citizens, made excuses for not attending. Continental Africa, which sent only a handful of countries, repeated demands for rich industrialised countries to transfers billions annually to fund green growth. This comes after Britain cut back billions from foreign aid this year, putting Sharma in a difficult position.
South African Environment Minister Barbara Creecy demanded countries at November’s UN COP26 climate talks in Glasgow should set a target of mobilising $750 billion-a-year from industrialised countries to help poorer nations transition to greener energy. Her goal is significantly higher than the $100 billion-a-year that was set for 2020, which rich countries have so far failed to deliver on. In negotiations leading up to COP26, a compromise is supposedly emerging to push the date to 2025. Which rich democratic countries will once again fail to deliver on.
The truth is that there will not be, whatever is promised in November, a $750 billion-a-year transfer of capital from the billion or so taxpayers in the industrialised world to the government elites in the developing world. No democratic country has a mandate to “tax and send” at that level – nor will they ever. India is not going to change direction on the dash for industrialisation powered by coal, which has powered great rival China’s rapid industrialisation. India knows that vastly more people die as a consequence of poverty and disease each year than die as a consequence of global warming. As in the past, we humans are capable of adapting to climate change in ways that can significantly mitigate its adverse effects, without choking off economic growth. A massive reduction in fossil fuels would exacerbate global poverty, cost-benefit analyses of climate policies reveal that there are better ways to alleviate human misery than spending taxpayer subsidies on panic-driven, political non-solutions to a changing climate. We need to develop more clean, green technology to save the planet and lift people out of poverty.