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(COP28) World Insights: On climate pledges, developed countries urged to walk the talk

Source:Xinhua 2023-12-07

This photo taken on Nov. 29, 2023 shows the media center of COP28 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. (Xinhua/Wang Dongzhen)

As major carbon emitters since the Industrial Revolution, developed countries bear historical responsibilities and legal obligations to offer help to developing countries, the biggest victims of climate change.

But how long will the world still have to wait till developed countries fulfill their promise?

by Xinhua writers Tai Beiping, Guo Shuang, Chen Mengyang

DUBAI, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Climate crisis victims can't wait "forever." It's the moment for "them" to take real action. "They" need to "walk the talk."

Calls for "them," the developed countries that had produced the largest share of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, to repay historical debt were resounding among participants here at the ongoing COP28 climate conference.


Still nearly a month to go before the year wraps up, the World Meteorological Organization on Thursday labeled 2023 the hottest year on record in human history.

The UN agency warned that 2023 marked a year of unprecedented climate records being shattered, as extreme weather events left behind a trail of widespread devastation and despair.

Global warming is taking its toll, and developing countries are bearing the brunt of climate crisis.

Here at COP28, or the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), calls for developed countries to honor their promise on climate finance were repeated by delegates from around the globe.

Climate activists display placards during a demonstration in Nakuru county, Kenya, on Nov. 14, 2023. (Photo by Sheikh Maina/Xinhua)

As major carbon emitters since the Industrial Revolution, developed countries bear historical responsibilities and legal obligations to offer help to developing countries, the biggest victims of climate change.

Under the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement, developed countries should provide assistance in finance, technology and capacity building to developing nations to adapt to climate change and mitigate its impacts.

At the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen, developed countries pledged to provide 100 billion U.S. dollars in climate finance every year by 2020. However, the promise has yet to be fulfilled.

How long will the world still have to wait till developed countries fully deliver the promised funds?

In the words of Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, president of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, the answer is "Forever!"


On the opening day of COP28, a loss and damage fund was agreed with pledges to provide funding for most affected countries by climate change. It was a positive move, yet many delegates are suspicious about its viability.

"I am optimistic because it (loss and damage fund) is started, but I am not really believing in the promise. Not really, because the promise of the 100 billion is not getting reached today," said Ibrahim.

Climate finance needs to be delivered, and delivered swiftly because the victims can't wait. "It has to be now," said Ibrahim. "Climate change is not only in the movies, it is the real life of people."

She told Xinhua that 40 million people who depend on the resources of Lake Chad are in danger as 90 percent of the lake area has disappeared.

"They're fighting each other, killing each other with the remaining resources," Ibrahim said.

A wooden boat is seen on dry bed of a reservoir in Wonogiri district, Central Java, Indonesia, Aug. 10, 2023. (Str/Xinhua)

The woes are not unique to Chad. Climate change is threatening the livelihood of people in many countries, not least small island nations and some of the world's least-developed countries.

Climate crises are occurring in real life, and affecting hundreds of millions of people, delegates here at the climate conference said.


"Europe, North America, Japan and a few other most developed countries in the world are the countries who have caused the problem (of climate change)," said Erik Solheim, former UN under-secretary-general and former executive director of the UN Environment Programme.

Taking into account their carbon emissions in history, those rich developed countries are emitters that have produced the major part of greenhouse gases in the world, Solheim told Xinhua in Dubai.

According to the Sixth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 58 percent of the global warming since the Industrial Revolution was caused by pre-1990 human activities.

It has become global consensus that as major polluters that have caused the largest part of climate change, developed countries should repay the debt they owed in the past.

Climate activists take part in a protest in New York, the United States, on Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Xinhua)

"It is not enough, in our view, for developed countries to simply wring their hands and make empty promises," said President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, at the climate conference.

They need to fulfill their commitments and obligations under the Paris Agreement, and ensure the rollout and implementation of tangible, concrete action to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change, the president urged.

As climate disasters strike more frequently across the world, the need for developed countries to take action becomes ever more urgent.

"Talk shows are over now," said Ibrahim Matola, minister of energy of Malawi, in an interview with Xinhua.

They need to "walk the talk," he said.

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