ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Manifesto for Going from Billions to Trillions in Climate Finance Now

Highlights of the ‘Bridgetown Initiative’

As India ascends to the Group of Twenty Presidency, internationalism is stuck. The Paris Agreement on climate change is deadlocked as countries point fi ngers at each other. Development assistance is being siphoned off into defence and foreign affairs budgets. And all the while global temperatures rise, and a silent debt crisis rips through the emerging world. Here are fi ve “asks” for India’s G20 Presidency to champion to unstick global fi nance and turn the billions being spent on addressing climate change into the trillions we need. They are highlights of what is being called the “Bridgetown Initiative” after a meeting of offi cials, academics and civil society hosted by Prime Minister Mia Mottley in Bridgetown.

The geography of the political eco­nomy, not scientific ignorance, is why climate mitigation is not happening fast enough around the world, and average global temperatures are blo­wing through cascade points causing substantial loss and damage in India and elsewhere. Repeatedly telling people to follow the science, just louder and slower each time like an Englishman abroad, has not and will not work. The countries most able to do something about it are the least affected. The United States’ (US) summer of floods and Europe’s scorching summer will focus their minds for a moment but will not trouble annual national income statistics. Melting glaciers and an extreme monsoon in Pakistan will. The intensification of tropical cyclones in the Pacific and Caribbean means that some small island tropical states have lost 200% of their national income in a few hours. Extreme heat and cold account for over 5,00,000 deaths in India each year and this is estimated to rise to one million per year, if climate change continues along its current trajectory.

The worst temperature increases and sea-level rises will occur between latitudes 23.5 degrees north of the equator and 23.5 degrees south—the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Much of India lies between the tropics. Across the same latitudes, over 50% of the rise of sovereign debt in small island states is the result of the public expenditures and loss of revenues that follow fast or slow onset external disasters. Behind this front line, national income may actually rise temporarily as growing seasons widen. English vineyards are flourishing. Permafrost in Siberia is receding. It is a cruel twist of fate that the countries least affected and with the greatest wealth today often have their wealth through contributing most to the stock of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

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Updated On : 17th Oct, 2022
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