capitalism

In 2009 a commitment was made by rich countries to create an annual fund of 100 billion dollars to help the Global South in climate change mitigation and adaptation by 2020.  Leaving aside the loans, the grants provided in the year 2020 under this fund actually amount to just about 16 billion dollars or so.

Considering that climate change is being widely regarded as the most important issue, how adequate is the 100 billion contribution which was decided in a rather arbitrary way without examining real needs? Some idea can be obtained from comparison with some other statistics. All figures are in US dollars.

The total wealth of the world’s billionaires is 13,000 billion dollars in 2021, according to Forbes listing of billionaires. The total wealth of just the top ten billionaires is 1153 billion. The net worth of four billionaires is well over 100 billion each—Jeff Bezos at 177 billion, Elon Musk at 151, Bernard Arnault at 150 and Bill Gates at 124 billion dollars.

If a 2% tax is levied on the total wealth of the billionaires for climate change mitigation and adaptation, then this alone can yield 260 billion dollars.

The wealth of world’s billionaires increased from 8000 billion to 13000 billion dollars in just one year from 2020 to 2021, an increase of 5000 billion dollars. If just 5 per cent of this increase could have been captured for climate fund, this would have yielded 250 billion dollars.

According to UN esimates, between 1600 and 2000 billion dollars worth of resources in a year are lost to money laundering.

The total military expenditure of just the USA is 778 billion dollars. The total amount spent on the war on terror following 9/11 during the next 20 or so years was 5800 billion dollars, according to Brown University analysis, out of which 2300 billion dollar was spent in Afghanistan alone.

The spnding on alcohol beverages in the USA alone in one year is  252 billion dollars. The spendng on cigarettes in the USA and the EU in one year is  over 210 billion dollars. The assets of a single luxury goods company LMVH (France) amount to around 150 billion dollars.

The market cap of seven biggest oil and gas companies each is over 100 billion dollars, that of Saudi Aramco alone is  of 1979 billion dollars.

The total trade in world in a year amounts to 17000 billion dollars. Total external debt of Africa in one year is 726 billion dollars. The total amount of outstanding student loan debt in the USA is 1700 billion dollars.

In comparison to all these figures it is sad to see that so far all the rich countries together have been able to commit grants of only 16 billion dollars a year for climate fund meant for Global South. If rich countries really accord so much importance to climate change, then why are they so miserly in commitments made to climate change fund?

Clearly while the existing target of 100 billion dollars must be met in grants and loans cannot be counted as a part of this, at the same time the overall annual commitment of 100 billion dollars for the clomate fund must also be increased significantly.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener of Campaign to Save Earth Now with its SED Demand ( demand for declaring 2022-32 as the decade of protecting earth). His recent books include Planet in Peril and Protecting Earth for Children.


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