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We Didn't Start the Fire

This year's record-breaking heat waves, droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events demonstrate precisely why rich, high-emitting countries must acknowledge what they owe the rest of the world. A financing facility to cover the costs of loss and damage in the developing world is more urgently needed than ever before.

DAKAR – With unprecedented heatwaves sweeping the planet this year, it is important to remember that the world’s 46 least-developed countries contributed almost nothing to the problem. Though we are collectively home to more than one billion people, we were responsible for just 1.1% of global carbon dioxide emissions in 2019.

And yet we are the ones who will bear the brunt of the effects from climate change, owing both to our geography and our lack of sufficient resources with which to adapt and rebuild. When governments come together for the COP27 United Nations climate conference in Sharm El-Sheikh this November, they must demonstrate greater ambition in responding to the needs of those worst affected by, and least responsible for, the unfolding climate catastrophe.

Average global temperatures have risen by 1.2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and our people are already experiencing severe “loss and damage,” a term that refers to “climate impacts exceeding the adaptive capacity of countries, communities, and ecosystems.” Worse, the scale of these costs will only grow as the world continues to warm – an outcome that is guaranteed by the fact that global greenhouse-gas emissions are still increasing.