If we don’t help poor countries overcome the challenges of climate change and global warming, then we are saying to them what Queen Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France said during the French Revolution: “Let Them Eat Cake!”
- Read a Bahamian perspective in the New York Times: “Climate Change is Destroying My Country. The Nations Causing it Must Help.”
Everyone who knows me knows that I am a serious and committed environmentalist who has dedicated the last two decades of my life to developing and promoting renewable energy. It has become evident to me during this time that rich countries, and all governments and nongovernment financial institutions must step up to the plate and help poor countries to convert to renewable energy, otherwise, we will not be able to win the battle to fight climate change and global warming.
The issue of worldwide concern for the environment and the climate change is no longer just a private one, nor a local issue or limited one, but rather an international political standardizing issue, by which the legitimacy of any country is measured. More seriously, the issue of climate change controls the economies of the world. Most civilized and wealthy countries are planning for it today.
With President Biden’s appointment of John Kerry as the international envoy for climate change, it is becoming more and more clear the extent to which the Western world will go to ensure its commitment to combating global warming. Above all, there is no doubt that protecting the environment is a noble and commendable endeavor. Rather, it is a necessary duty, whether the West said it or not.
Reality is that the entire world population–not only the West, but the industrialized world (including China)–is the root cause of pollution. These wealthy nations are the ones who polluted the planet and its people much more any Third World country.
In addition, environmental protection is not an issue for the left or the right, it is for all humankind. For example, U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt, a progressive Republican, was considered the pioneer of the great American national environmental reserves.
The National Park System of the United States is the collection of physical properties owned or administered by the National Park Service. The collection includes all national parks and most national monuments, as well as several other types of protected areas of the United States.
In the Middle Eastern Arab and Islamic worlds today, Saudi Arabia is the country considered to be the most advanced in the policies of protesting the environment and clean energy. In reading a recent report of the International Energy Agency (IEA), it clearly states that the target in 2050 is zero emissions. To achieve their prescribed roadmap, the petroleum industries must be totally curbed, among other measures.
What are some aspects of this road map? The IEA has suggested immediately ceasing investments in the petroleum industry; phasing out the sale of the internal combustion engines (used for gasoline or diesel) by 2025 and selling electric, hydrogen or hybrid cars only; and shutting down electricity production facilities that run on diesel or any petroleum-based product; and starting in 2040, replacing them with stations that use sustainable energies.
A larger issue looms, however. What is the cost of developing sustainable energy, considering the experiences of renewables projects, most of which are currently being implemented in the industrialized countries? Simply, the cost of creating worldwide clean energy could be in the trillions of dollars. Thus, my concern is this: can Third World countries–especially the poor ones–bear these costs? Why didn’t the IEA’s roadmap mention the possibility of granting international development banks soft loans to the Third World to start the energy transition, especially after the financial and economic burdens resulting from the COVID pandemic?
Is it even possible for Third World countries to bear a new financial burden in addition to their current burdens?
In summary, yes to protecting the environment and yes to everything that serves this issue, but the unintended financial consequences must not harm poor countries.
It is high time rich countries everywhere to pitch in and help poor countries to combat climate change and global warming and not continue with the falsehood that we can fix climate change and global warming without making sure that ALL countries rich and poor fight climate change and global warming.
Any less of an effort is merely window dressing and theater.
Nasser M.N. Alshemaimry is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OceanBased Perpetual Energy. Read more about him here.