Developed countries must bear more responsibility for climate change, the World Green Economy Summit heard, and should honour a pledge of $100 billion per year to help developing countries tackle it.

Mohamed Mubarak bin Daina, CEO of Bahrain’s Supreme Council for Environment, said it would be “not fair” to expect developing countries to share the same level of responsibility as the developed. 

Speaking at a panel session on Wednesday titled 'global aspiration at a time of political uncertainty', bin Daina said: “We are suffering from climate change not because of the developing countries,” he said. “You have to go back in history 150 years ago and know that the developed countries reached their level of growth because they have been limiting the world for 150 years.

“So, it is not fair now that the developing countries share the same responsibility as the developed countries. I believe that the approach was taken by the Paris Agreement, agreed by all the parties, that we are going to share the same mitigation and limitations based on national circumstances.”

Bin Daina also described as “disappointing” the response to a pledge made at COP15 for developed countries to create a fund of $100 billion per year to help developing countries tackle climate change by 2020.

“Now, it only has $10.3billion,” he said. “This fund was promised by the developed countries to fund and to help the developing countries in their own capacity building, towards their own projects, to help them reach towards mitigation and adaptation.”

He added: “If we don’t help the developing countries to achieve their goals, we are going to suffer more and more from climate change.”

Ahmed Al Muhairbi, secretary-general of Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, said Dubai had been self-sufficient in establishing its own policies, setting up the Dubai Green Fund, which has pledged to raise $27 billion by 2030.

“Developed countries have a role to play, to provide technology, funding and expertise,” he said.

“Developing countries need to put up the programmes, the policies and strategies to move forward.”

He said it is down to each individual country to assess their own circumstances and find ways to implement goals set down in the Paris Agreement.

Aziz Rabbah, Moroccan Minister for Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development, offered an optimistic view on the way developing countries should tackle climate issues, saying “climate change is a climate chance”.

“Europe will need 60 million engineers to manage the new economy,” he said. “The majority of them will not come from Europe, they will come from Africa or this region.”

The minister, himself a former engineer with a background in information technology, also warned against being reliant on technology to resolve climate change.

“I apologise to colleagues who think technology is the solution,” he said. “In life, there is a human element to everything. We should look for a mix between the human element and technology.”

For example, countries need to face the fact that some current technological solutions, such as hybrid cars, were not suitable for certain climates, such as Africa, he said.

He recommended that policy decisions should be taken to encourage businesses to respect the climate and do more to mitigate environmental damage.

“Companies that do not respect the environment will not find a place with us. That is what I am lobbying for,” he said.   

Regarding the announcement by President Donald Trump earlier this year that the USA would be leaving the Paris Agreement, bin Daina pointed out that at the time of the signing of the agreement, the US had been stringent in having the agreement worded in such a way that will protect its economy.

“Because of the USA, we were stuck for hours regarding a single word, that developed countries “should” lead the way over developing countries on mitigating climate change, rather than 'shall',” he said.

The Moroccan energy minister also added that the earliest the USA can pull out of the agreement is 2020. “By then, there may have been a change in leadership,” he said.

© ZAWYA 2017