By Toshiaki Kitazato*

KUMAMOTO, Japan (IDN) – In April this year, two major earthquakes struck Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu, southern Japan, where I live and work as a lawyer.

I was resting in my house when a magnitude 6.2 earthquake with an epicentre at a depth of around 11 km struck at 21:26 on April 14. Less than two days later, this was followed by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake at 1:26.

In fear of my life, I spent three nights in a car outside the house with my family. Luckily enough, all of us were safe and my house only received minor damage, while the walls surrounding my house collapsed. JAPANESE

- Photo: 2021

Rich Countries, Are You Listening? Pay Up the Climate Debt Owed to Global South!

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK (IDN) — A number of African activists were listening in at President Joe Biden’s major climate summit on April 22 at which 40 world leaders were invited. Among the listeners was Kumi Naidoo, special adviser for the Green Economy Coalition’s Social Contract Initiative and Dipti Bhatnagar of Friends of the Earth International.

Naidoo, former head of Amnesty International and Greenpeace, claimed that foot dragging, particularly on the part of the United States, not only with Trump but with previous administrations, has left the world basically at one minute to midnight in terms of the climate crisis.

“When developing countries in the Global South are asking for support, whether it’s Asia, Africa, Latin America, Middle East, Caribbean, we’re not asking for charity,” he said. “We’re simply saying, ‘Let’s recognize the history of this problem, that Europe, North America and other developed countries built their economy on dirty energy.’ ”

“We’re asking for redress. We’re asking for recompense. And we’re asking for rich countries to pay their climate debt,” said Naidoo. “The statistics are clear in terms of the volume of the historical emissions and so on.

Dipti Bhatnagar turned to a new Global Climate Ambition Initiative which reads in part: “The U.S. government will support developing countries in establishing net-zero (emission) strategies.”

But “net zero, basically, is a corporate strategy,” she said. “It’s put forward by the most polluting corporations in the world. And all these corporations suddenly have stepped up with these net zero targets. And you wonder: Why are they suddenly so eager to come with a target, where they’ve actually squashed climate science for decades?”

“It’s because net zero allows them to get away with continuing to pollute, continuing business as usual, because what net zero says is that we can suck the carbon back out of the atmosphere.

So this is about offsets, about so-called sequestering carbon. And whose land, whose forests are they going to so-called use for the offsets? Whose rivers and lakes are they actually going to use to sequester this carbon? It’s coming to our countries in the Global South. It’s coming to communities who are using their lands, their forests, their rivers to stay alive. And what net zero is going to do is trigger a huge land grab, more than that is happening already, in our countries of the Global South.”

“So commodifying nature is the next market. And that’s something we are really, really fighting against.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for commitment to restoring the planet, and to making peace with nature, in his message to mark International Mother Earth Day (the Earth Day).

This year’s observation is taking place as the planet is at “a tipping point”, he said, as humanity continues to abuse the natural world. “We heedlessly plunder the Earth’s resources, deplete its wildlife and treat air, land and seas as dumping grounds. Crucial ecosystems and food chains are being pushed to the brink of collapse”, the UN chief stated.

“This is suicidal. We must end our war on nature and nurse it back to health”.

The Secretary-General said ending this war calls for “bold climate action” to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Stronger steps to protect biodiversity, and reducing pollution and waste, are also needed.

He assured that these steps will not only safeguard the planet, “our only home”, but will also create millions of new jobs.

“Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is a chance to set the world on a cleaner, greener, more sustainable path”, the Secretary-General said. “…let us all commit to the hard work of restoring our planet and making peace with nature”. [IDN-InDepthNews – 24 April 2021]

Image: A NASA image of the Earth. Public Domain.

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