Rich country governments claim the high moral ground on climate action. But many deny their far greater responsibility for both historic and contemporary greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, once acknowledged by the Kyoto Protocol.
Worse, responsibility has not been matched by commensurate efforts, especially by the largest rich economies in the G7, which dominates the G20. Its continued control of international economic resources and policymaking blocks progress on climate justice.
After decades of rejecting international tax cooperation under multilateral auspices, rich countries have finally agreed. But, by insisting on their own terms, progressive corporate income tax remains distant.
Tax avoidance and evasion by transnational corporations (TNCs) are facilitated by ‘tax havens
’ – jurisdictions with very low ‘effective’ taxation rates. Intense competition among developing countries to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) makes things worse.
US-led sanctions are inadvertently undermining the dollar’s post-Second World War dominance. The growing number of countries threatened by US and allied actions is forcing victims and potential targets to respond pro-actively.
SWIFT strengthened dollar
The instant messaging system of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) informs users, both payers and payees, of payments made. Thus, it enables the smooth and rapid transfer of funds across borders.
Food crises, economic stagnation and price increases are worsening unevenly, almost everywhere, following the Ukraine war. Sanctions against Russia have especially hurt those relying on wheat and fertilizer imports.
Unilateral sanctions illegal
Unilateral sanctions – not approved by the UN Security Council – are illegal under international law. Besides contravening the UN Charter, unilateral sanctions inflict much human loss. Countless civilians – many far from target countries – are at risk, depriving them of much, even life itself.
US and allied economic sanctions against Russia for its illegal invasion of Ukraine have not achieved their declared objectives. Instead, they are worsening economic stagnation and inflation worldwide. Worse, they are exacerbating hunger, especially in Africa.
A class war is being waged in the name of fighting inflation. All too many central bankers are raising interest rates at the expense of working people’s families, supposedly to check price increases.
Central bank policies have often worsened economic crises instead of resolving them. By raising interest rates in response to inflation, they often exacerbate, rather than mitigate business cycles and inflation.
As China increases
lending to other developing countries, ‘debt trap’ charges are growing quickly. As it greatly augments financing for development while other sources continue to decline, condemnation of China’s loans is being weaponized in the new Cold War.
“If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”. Still haunted by the clever preaching of monetarist guru Milton Friedman’s ghost, all too many monetary authorities address every inflationary threat or sign they see by raising interest rates.
Finger pointing in the blame game over Russia’s Ukraine incursion obscures the damage it is doing on many fronts. Meanwhile, billions struggle to cope with worsening living standards, exacerbated by the pandemic and more.
Losing sight in the fog of war
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken insists
, “the Russian people will suffer the consequences of their leaders’ choices”. Western leaders and media seem to believe their unprecedented
” will have a “chilling effect
” on Russia.
All too many developing countries have been persuaded or required to prioritize inflation targeting
(IT) in their monetary policy. By doing so, they have tied their own hands instead of adopting bolder economic policies for growth, jobs and sustainable development.
Inflation hawks are winning the day. The latest ‘beggar thyself’ race to raise interest rates has begun. This ostensibly responds to the spectre of runaway inflation, supposedly retarding economic growth and progress, and thus threatening central bank ‘credibility’.
Funding for developing countries to address global warming is grossly inadequate. Very little finance is for adaptation to climate change,
the urgent need of countries most adversely affected. Also, adaptation needs to be forward-looking rather than only addressing accumulated problems.
Carbon offset markets allow the rich to emit as financial intermediaries profit. By fostering the fiction that others can be paid to cut greenhouse gases (GHGs) instead, it undermines efforts to do so.
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.
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.