Sure, we all share this one planet. But the warming Earth is poised to divide — not unite — us.
The big picture: One cornerstone of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement is that nations have a shared responsibility to address global warming. But the reality is that climate change won't affect everyone the same way.
- The impacts, while immense, aren’t shared evenly around the world, and the solutions will affect some nations more than others.
Driving the news: 2 reports out last week show the uneven effects of a warming world and a transition to cleaner energy sources. Certain regions, particularly those with economies based on fossil fuels, are set to lose under the Paris deal while others, particularly China, are poised to gain.
Two main splits exist:
- The most well known division is between developed nations that have emitted the most greenhouse gases in the past and those still developing their economies like China and India, which are increasingly emitting the most today.
- Those fault lines are well documented, but others emerged more forcefully at a UN climate change conference last month in Poland between nations that produce fossil fuels and those that don’t.
Saudi Arabia, for example, says the impact on their nation is heavy. In an interview at the conference with Carbon Brief, Saudi climate negotiator Ayman Shasly said...
“[W]e are impacted by climate change, perhaps more than anybody else. We are a desert country that heavily relies on this single source of income. We have such a vulnerable economy, fragile economy, and with oil, we eat, we feed, we travel, we educated our people, we have medical care and everything.”
Given that some low-lying island nations are projected to literally disappear beneath rising sea levels within 80 years thanks to emissions from other nations’ fossil fuels, including Saudi oil, that statement may seem like an unconvincing thing to say.
Yes, but: Actually, Shasly has a point.
- As a desert nation, Saudi Arabia is set to face the impacts of a warmer world with more intense droughts and heatwaves. But it’s also going to feel the brunt of the economic pain from transitioning away from fossil fuels — if the world follows through with the Paris deal ambitions (a big if).
- “You can see their concern is legit,” said Adele Morris, an economist who in her role at the Brookings Institution co-wrote one of the reports released last week on this topic.
That report found 2 regions — Australia and the nations in the OPEC cartel, including Saudi Arabia — would be worse off under the Paris deal in 2030, in part because they’re big fossil-fuel exporters. All other regions, including China and even Russia, would be better off.
Drill down for the rest in the Axios stream.