Climate curse of the developing countries


By Peter Makwanya

LOW-INCOME countries continue to endure negative impacts of climate change that include, humanitarian, socio-economic and environmental. The possible threats of climate change are compounding an already dire situation of some developing countries where poverty is no longer regarded as a condition or state of affairs, but an established institution while climate-induced disasters have become a way of life.

Despite being the least equipped, climate-induced disasters always hit developing countries with devastating impacts. These disasters always strike ahead of time, contributing to commotion and leaving no time for planning and coping.

Developing countries have knowledge and plans for adaptation firmly in place but they lack a credible helping hand to chaperon them from the impending climate breakdown.

Many developing countries are confronted by a host of climate risks. Instead of being up-to-date, the impacts of climate change are always far ahead of them.

As many communities in developing countries continue to invade forests for resources, they are contributing to widespread deforestation and degradation, exposing these landscapes, unlocking trapped carbon sinks in the process.

The rise of climate change as a possible existential threat has also witnessed the rise in global temperatures, biodiversity loss impacting negatively on flora and fauna, extreme weather events and outbreak of diseases, among others.

Engulfed by a host of climate vices like droughts, floods, health effects, food insecurity and population density, leading to climate refugees, surely it becomes hell in the making and climate Armageddon.

Climate inequality gaps caused by energy emissions and institutionalised poverty continue to widen.

Despite contributing far much less carbon emissions, the least developed countries have been vulnerable to climate change ranging from lack of material needs, energy consumption, lack of technologies and resources to fight pollution, including low coal prices which lead to more demand and wide usage of coal.

For the least developed countries, it is no longer a question of maybe or otherwise it is the real impact unfolding complemented by weak climate actions, lack of capacity, commitment, political will and funding.

It is difficult for developing countries to depend on developed countries to be bailed out and to fund their national adaptation programmes because the rich polluting nations have been experiencing their fair share of climate upheavals and the COVID-19 pandemic as well.

Lately, there were devastating floods in Germany, the USA and Japan, wildfires in Australia and some parts of Europe.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also diverted attention from adaptation activities around the world as nations continue to lose lives. In this regard, climate change is slowly and gradually drifting from the centre and focal point, issues which need urgent attention due to the menacing coronavirus.

In the case of the threats to livelihoods, ecosystem-based adaptations are not being effectively carried out in developing countries as adaption options are getting fewer.

While developing countries require more support and funding, they also lack intrinsic motivation and drive and as a result they seem to be giving up the fight.

In this state, communities around the world are getting overwhelmed, depressed and anxious, wondering what kind of human is human kind.

If climate action is the only option then it is important to be sincere about it, rather than playing politics, role-play and drama but to truly act, abide and engage.

If the existing adaptation plans and options are not enough to help communities achieve resilience, protect them and nature, then, concerted global efforts are required to get things done, uplift the concerned communities and change their lives and situations.

The main worry is that climate-induced impacts and disasters are no longer ordinary because they are growing in strength.

As a result, all adaptation efforts risk being deemed useless or unattainable. Sometimes it also becomes difficult when adaptation efforts fail to bear fruits or achieve desired outcomes and that is when motivation is necessary, to fine-tune and re-energise the concerned communities.

The other important initiative is for the national adaptation plans and efforts to be more inward looking and locally initiated rather than externally prescribed. Although the least developed countries lack means to climate proof themselves, it doesn’t mean that they no longer think.

A number of national adaptation programmes for developing countries are receiving funding from international donor organisations like the Green Climate Fund and Global Investment Facility, among others, but how much of these funds are directed to these national adaptation efforts.

Many developing countries received these funds but failed to adapt thereby compounding the climate curse.

This is where politics and corruption creeps in, contributing to poor management of these donated funds and leading to lack of or poor accountability for donor funds.

Right now, according to the climate accelerator, seven of the world’s top countries most adversely affected by climate risks are found in Africa.

Besides being burdened by the negative impacts of climate change, uptake of emerging technologies in these countries remain low due to prohibitive costs and lack of access.

These emerging technologies help to decarbonise entire industries and economies so that they can contribute to net-zero emission reduction targets.

  • Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his personal capacity.