COP 26 failure shows why the South must walk separately

img
Members of Extinction Rebellion take part in a demonstration outside the venue of the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Photo: AP/UNB

It was billed as the greatest show on earth and it did show that the One world doesn’t exist. Only the most out of touch with reality global ‘civil society’ and NGOs would have thought that COP 26 was going to deliver. As reality dictates, it didn’t deliver and sent its latest message that there is no such thing as one world except in rock concerts in the West. The global South continues to believe in colonial values expecting the North/Developed /White world to look after its Brown and Black brethren. It didn’t and it won’t. The need for a separate Southern strategy outside the COP parameter is urgent but the current global leaders are probably not up to the task.

The One World fiction

Global transactions are based on the falsehood of “One world” and it’s impossible to give this up because the same fiction is used for internal governance in the South. Political leaders sell the idea that they rule for the benefit of all and so if they challenge the notion, they may end up challenging themselves. Hence they can’t take an independent position on many global issues outside the herd norm. That the states that matter aren’t going to be giving up their advantages as it affects their own people is denied by Southern leaders. The rich world’s survival depends on continuing the path that led to climate change in the first place so there is almost no chance of emission reduction. Meanwhile, publicly they will continue to uphold noble principles which none follow.

Few have said that the COP was a success and it’s probably not possible to do so as the lack of interest in it was rather transparent. The rich world is not concerned about saving the poor world. Right now the West’s principal anxiety is not global warming but China as the two seem to be inching closer to active hostility. However, both know that their own survival is at stake so actions to cool the global political heat were taken and the US and China have had virtual talks. No solution but keeping the violent end at bay while more wars go on.

The concerns of the rich and the poor nations are different and that is historical and given history, there is no chance of any co-operation based on goodwill. Human species are driven by self-interest and the two worlds have no common interest. It is logical that global cooperation will not have much to do with saving the world. The rich will survive but the poor won’t.

COP 6, coal and economic competition

The South had focused their demand on the “Glasgow facility" on "financing loss and damage". But as expected nothing came out. Next year another round of not so useful discussions will take place at COP27 to be held in Egypt. Bangladeshi delegate Saleemul Huq has written, “the COP Presidency chose to call the outcome of COP26 the Glasgow Climate Pact, dropping the word emergency both in name as well as in substance.”(Daily Star 11/18/21)  It’s an emergency for the South but not the North, certainly not in their immediate future.

The West’s anti-coal position also reflects this anxiety. China’s coal dependence is high and it would be a great service to the US/West if China emissions would be costlier due to restrictions on coal, competition would be less difficult for the West hence the focus. It was not a poor South issue who lacked capacity for production of sophisticated low emitting energy but a West driven agenda to put pressure on China and any other global competition. What was interesting and significant was that India too showed no interest in coal use control as it too depends on it making both China and India very unusual allies.

An Indo-China led Southern alliance?

Yet, it’s in this alliance that the future may lie however little that be. China and India are drawn together by common interest and they got together because it served mutual interest even though they are at war of sorts.  It’s translating this sort of alliance across the South that is important and practical. The South must become more selfish if it wants to survive.

There is very little reason to expect the North will take the Southern issue seriously so media and think tanks must stop toeing the global line and the governments must now have a Southern plan. It’s useful to have China as the leader and India as the deputy but a global alliance for addressing climate change is killing the South.  There is no option except strategic separation from the North.

  • Glasgow
  • COP26
  • Climate Change

Leave a Comment