After 30 years of COPs, hundreds of thousands of speeches and blah, blah, blah, the signatory countries reached a self-evident conclusion: the effects of climate change hit poorer countries the hardest. This realisation is not a bad joke: climate justice is an idea that has taken the richest and most polluting countries a long time to accept. It has been even more difficult for them to accept their responsibility in the dire condition where the countries in the so-called “front line” of the environmental catastrophe find themselves.
This aspect of justice related to climate change has given rise to one of the most publicised initiatives in this COP 27: the creation of a monetary fund that contemplates damages, costs, and compensation to be paid by the rich and most polluting countries to the countries with tiny responsibility in creating this crisis.
We know that adaptation is a pivotal issue in facing environmental catastrophes and that poorer countries need more help. Still, at this point, talking about adaptation as the primary strategy seems like covering the sun with one finger.
Because the poorer countries, long before this salvific COP, were already far behind in terms of education, health, food, infrastructure, energy capacity, water, etc. Now they must also face the most devastating effects of climate change while simultaneously dragging and seeing how these chronic problems worsen. Some of the poorest countries may never recover from what the empires that colonised them did to them in the first place.
These countries will take thousands of years to recover from the effects of floods, fires and famine. Can the poorer countries trust that the colonising powers will fulfil their moral duty when they are still unaware of the atrocities they committed as colonisers and cannot pay reparations or even return artistic and sacred objects they took from these countries?
Once again, the rich countries are debating moral obligations by putting their hand in their pocket and avoiding talking about the justice these countries are asking for and deserve.