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What Developing Countries Need to Reach Net Zero

One-size-fits-all policies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions will not work. Unless developed countries recognize the challenges confronting developing and emerging economies and take appropriate steps to help them achieve net-zero emissions, we will all be worse off.

DUBAI – The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the planet will warm by 1.5º Celsius by 2040 unless urgent measures are taken to eliminate greenhouse-gas emissions. After the report’s release, UN Secretary-General António Guterres aptly called it “a code red for humanity.” Global warming is becoming an increasingly urgent problem, and all countries have a role to play in combating it. But as government officials from around the world prepare to set sustainability targets at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow next month, they cannot ignore developing countries’ economic distress.

The climate crisis is occurring at a time when governments and businesses in the developing world are wrestling with the impact of COVID-19. As the global economy begins to emerge from the pandemic, it is obvious that developing countries will recover at a slower rate. And the pace of vaccine delivery will complicate the economic situation further. For example, the poorest countries in Africa may not receive enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations before 2023 at the earliest.

So, while acknowledging that addressing climate change is a long-term imperative, the immediate priority for developing countries should be economic growth – revitalizing their economies, reducing poverty, and creating jobs. Building a greener future will yield rewards eventually, but hungry households need food and jobs today.

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