Rich polluting nations are hijacking the 1.5C goal for their own aims Opinion | Eco-Business

Who are the real climate criminals blowing through the 1.5C limit? It’s the developed countries like the United States, who have massive oil and gas expansion plans. Just yesterday, the US approved a new liquefied natural gas terminal on the Gulf Coast with a capacity of 8.4 million tons of LNG per year, which will do massive harm to both the climate and local communities.

They know digging up and burning all that oil and gas will leave no chance of keeping under the 1.5-degree limit, yet they refuse to quit their addiction to climate-destroying fossil fuels.

Lack of finance, tech

Developing countries absolutely must also phase out their use of fossil fuels, but this is only possible in the context of global equity. For almost all developing countries, the transition is out of reach without the finance and technology that has been repeatedly promised from developed countries, but never delivered.

Thus, objections from developing countries to the current language emphasizing the 1.5-degree goal is fundamentally premised on equity concerns – especially in light of all this developed country hypocrisy. Statements like “all Parties must increase efforts towards 1.5-compatible pathways” are completely devoid of equity.

They erase history, ignoring that developed countries have been polluting for more than 150 years, in favor of putting all countries at the same starting point regardless of their historical emissions or their current levels of development.

Without any equity principles, where is the balance of efforts going to fall? If history is any guide, developed countries will not do their fair share, and will push off their obligations onto the backs of the poor. They will continue with their fossil fuel expansion plans and Blow through the remaining carbon budget for a 1.5-degree world, all the while failing to provide the finance and technology developing countries need to have any chance of making just transitions a reality in their own economies .

It is Frontline communities in developing countries that will suffer the most if we fail to keep under the 1.5-degree limit. And it is climate justice groups that originally pushed for the 1.5-degree goal in the first place, pointing out in no uncertain terms that a 2-degree goal would be a death sentence for countless people.

Let’s be clear on what is happening here. Wealthy countries have hijacked the narrative around the 1.5-degree limit, removed it from the context of equity and history, and weaponised it against developing countries.

No country is blameless in this crisis, but the focus of our ire should fall squarely on those who have been failing for decades to do their fair share, and who even now are denying that failure and pushing it off onto the poor.

This story was published with permission from Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers Humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, Women’s rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit

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