Next Friday a new report from the IPCC will underline the growing “climate divide” that is growing across the globe.
The world’s richest countries, which have contributed the most to climate change, are already spending billions of dollars to limit their own risks from its worst consequences, like drought and rising seas.
Poorer countries on the other hand who have contributed least to the problem will be hardest hit and have the least money to be able to adapt. Africa accounts for less than 3 percent of the global emissions of carbon dioxide from fuel burning since 1900, yet its 840 million people face some of the biggest risks from drought and disrupted water supplies.
Despite Africa and Asia being in the most need, and despite longstanding treaty commitments to help poor countries deal with warming, industrial nations are spending just tens of millions of dollars – peanuts in macro-economic terms – on ways to limit climate change.
The inequity of this whole situation is really enormous if you look at who’s responsible and who’s suffering as a result,” said Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations climate panel.
Michael H. Glantz, an expert on climate hazards at the National Center for Atmospheric Research who has spent two decades pressing for more work on adaptation to warming, has called for wealthy countries to help establish a center for climate and water monitoring in Africa, run by Africans. But for now, he says he is doubtful that much will be done. “The third world has been on its own,” he said, “and I think it pretty much will remain on its own.”