But then, so was the Covid pandemic, and most of the steps taken to address this deadly threat, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 4.6 million people worldwide – about half the total military deaths in the First World War – have been taken on a national basis.
So while wealthy countries have embarked on inoculation programmes, poorer ones have struggled to do the same, creating vast areas where the virus is able to spread and mutate largely unhindered by the dampening effect of mass vaccination.
And, just as this may come back to haunt countries like the UK, the failure to provide the developing world with sufficient help to deal with climate change represents a narrow-minded and short-sighted view about what is in the national interest.
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According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the latest figures show wealthy countries provided £79.6 billion in loans, grants and private investment to poorer countries in 2019 to help cut carbon emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change. This sounds like a lot of money but the target was to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 so there seems little chance that this has been met.
Speaking ahead of a United Nations meeting of world leaders in New York, Boris Johnson said there was a “six out of ten” chance of persuading other countries to sign up to the necessary financial and environmental targets ahead of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow in November. “It’s going to be tough but people need to understand that this is crucial for the world,” he said.
Many have pointed out that climate change was a problem created by wealthy industrialised countries, not the poorer ones which are, by a grimly ironic accident of geography, currently suffering some of its worst effects.
But moral arguments aside, the simple truth is that if countries which cannot afford to transition to a net-zero carbon economy are not given the funds required to make this happen, they will not be able to do so and the whole world will suffer as a result.
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