By Kayla Ngai
World leaders insist on cutting pollution and energy expenses during this year’s COP27. Although this emphasis is generally stated annually, many countries recognize Putin’s war on Ukraine as especially detrimental to the environment. The war is primarily financed by Russia’s gas which has led to more oil and gas drilling (and higher prices) which has, in turn, influenced the climate impacts on underdeveloped countries. At this time, our expenditure harms everybody. Unsurprisingly, however, it is hurting less-developed countries the most. As the larger and more developed nations are the ones contributing the most to climate change, it is our responsibility to slow our gas usage to protect our fellow smaller ones.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) is held every year in different places, and this year, it was held in Egypt. The conference began on November 6 and is set to end by the 18th. So far, most of their discussions concerned gas resources. During the event, Bill McKibben, who is a US environmentalist and founder of 350.org, reported, that “this year we’ve fully understood the link between fossil fuels and fascism. Putin could not have invaded Ukraine without the profits from oil and gas, or cowered the west with threats of turning off the taps.” Thus, many European countries are looking to depend less on Russian gas and find new sources. The United Arab Emirates’ prince bin Zayed responded that their country is a “‘responsible’ gas producer.” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain still implored, however, that developed countries should look for more sustainable options: renewable energy.
This conversation quickly escalated into a debate between the rich and the poor. Namibian President Hage Geingob called out developed countries as “criminals.” They reap the benefits of using excess gas and energy the most, but the ones that suffer are the poorer nations. In another instance, Prime Minister Philip Davis of the Bahamas mentions how his country is battling sea-level rises. There are also currently many flash floods in Pakistan which have killed thousands and affected millions of residents. Still, little has been done to prepare the communities for upcoming disasters. This reveals a real contention between developing and developed countries.
Because of the way wealthier nations accumulated their income and status (mostly by using and selling fossil fuels), the more impoverished countries think that it should fall on the rich to rectify their damage. They believe that they should mainly foot the expense. The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which is a group of smaller countries (Belize, Tonga, Singapore, and more), believes that they “‘could carry a portion of their burden’ by paying a tax on profits.” However, rather than address these concerns, “leaders of richer nations said countries should stay the course in tackling climate change despite the war in Ukraine and global energy shocks.”
Not only should citizens and representatives of developed countries help reduce the effects of climate change by implementing more renewable energy in our infrastructure, but there should be a spread of awareness on how our actions impact other people. On a similar note, actor Rainn Wilson (most known as Dwight Schrute from The Office) has legally changed his name to “Rainfall Heat Wave Extreme Winter Wilson” to protest Arctic climate change.
Climate change has been an issue for years. This issue is saturated in many sectors of our government. Not only does it have an impact on our environment, but our economy, livelihood, and politics, as our gas usage pays for a war that many of us do not agree with. However, we should be more cognizant of how much climate change has affected the spaces of other countries. With China and the United States being the top contributors to carbon emissions and expended energy, we need to work together to spread the word and also cut down our ecological destruction.