The planet is already 1.1°C warmer than in pre-industrial times. July 2021 was the hottest month
ever recorded in 142 years. Despite the pandemic slowdown, 2020 was the hottest year
so far, ending the warmest decade
Betrayal in Glasgow
Summing up widespread views of the recently concluded Glasgow climate summit, former Irish President Mary Robinson
observed, “People will see this as a historically shameful dereliction of duty,… nowhere near enough to avoid climate disaster”.
Quickly enabling greater and more affordable production of and access to COVID-19 medical needs is urgently needed in the South. Such progress will also foster much needed goodwill for international cooperation, multilateralism and sustainable development.
Addressing global warming requires cutting carbon emissions by almost half by 2030! For the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, emissions must fall by 45%
below 2010 levels by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5°C, instead of the 2.7°C now expected.
Current climate mitigation plans will result in a catastrophic 2.7°C world temperature rise
. US$1.6–3.8 trillion is needed
annually to avoid global warming exceeding 1.5°C.
“The outlook for LDCs is grim”. The latest United Nations (UN) assessment
of prospects for the least developed countries (LDCs) notes recent setbacks without finding any silver lining on the horizon.
Half a century ago, LDCs were first officially recognised by a UN General Assembly resolution
. It built on research, analysis and advocacy by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The bogey of inflation has been revived. Dubious pre-pandemic economic progress, fiscal constraints and vaccine apartheid were bad enough. Now, ostensibly anti-inflationary measures also threaten recovery and sustainable development.
Vaccine costs have pushed many developing countries to the end of the COVID-19 vaccination queue, with most low-income ones not even lining up. Worse, less vaccinated poor nations cannot afford fiscal efforts to provide relief or stimulate recovery, let alone achieve Agenda 2030.
The pandemic is pushing back the world’s poorest countries with the least means to finance economic recovery and contagion containment efforts. Without international solidarity, economic gaps will grow again as COVID-19 threatens humanity for years to come.
Instead of a health system striving to provide universal healthcare, a fragmented, profit-driven market ‘non-system’ has emerged. The 1980s’ neo-liberal counter-revolution against the historic 1978 Alma-Ata Declaration
Decades of public health cuts have quietly taken a huge human toll, now even more pronounced with the pandemic. Austerity programmes, by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, have forced countries to cut public spending, including health provisioning.
Hopes for an inclusive global economic recovery are fast fading. As rich countries have done little to ensure poor countries’ access to vaccines and fiscal resources, North-South “fault lines
” will certainly widen.
Enhancing relief, recovery, transformation
While the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised
rich countries’ recovery prospects upward, the United Nations (UN) notes formidable challenges, especially for developing countries, due to the pandemic.
Despite facing the world’s worst pandemic of the last century, rich countries in the World Trade Organization (WTO) have blocked efforts to enable more affordable access to the means to fight the pandemic.
‘No one is protected from the global pandemic until everyone is’ has become a popular mantra. But vaccine apartheid worldwide, due to rich countries’ policies, has made COVID-19 a developing country pandemic
, delaying its end and global economic recovery.
As rich countries have delayed contagion containment, including mass vaccination, in developing countries, much weaker fiscal efforts in the South have worsened the growing world pandemic apartheid
Too many have swallowed the myth that lowering corporate income tax (CIT) is necessary to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) for growth. Although contradicted by their own research, this lie has long been promoted by influential international economic institutions.
COVID-19 has become a “developing country pandemic
”, retreating from the North’s mass vaccination. With developing countries heavily handicapped, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns
of a “dangerous [new] divergence”.
Last week, the largest rich countries, home to most major transnational corporations (TNCs), agreed to a global minimum corporate income tax (GMCIT) rate. But the low rate proposed and other features will deprive developing countries of their just due yet again.
With the pandemic setting back past, modest and uneven progress, huge disparities in containing COVID-19 and financing government efforts are widening the North-South gap and other inequalities once again.
Pandemic relief measures in developing countries have been limited by modest resources, fear of financial market discipline and policy mimicry. COVID-19 has triggered not only an international public health emergency, but also a global economic crisis, setting back decades of uneven progress
, especially in developing countries.
Failure to sufficiently accelerate comprehensive efforts to contain COVID-19 contagion has greatly worsened the catastrophe in developing countries. Grossly inadequate financing of relief, recovery and reform efforts has also further set back progress, including sustainable development.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has urged
all governments to support a global minimum corporate tax rate of at least 21%. The US is working with other G20 nations to get other countries to end the “thirty-year race to the bottom on corporate tax rates”.