"Cooperate or perish" is a short but powerful message. It is uttered by none other than the UN chief and the occasion he has chosen to deliver the message is the 27th edition of the climate summit called Conference of the Parties (COP) now being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. In his address at the climate conference, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres could not be more blunt when he probably made the ultimate assertion humanly possible, "It is either a climate solidarity pact, or a collective suicide pact". No doubt, these are very strong words and a dire warning for those who are indifferent to their responsibilities for the planet's temperature rise beyond any acceptable limit. Point-blank, his remarks that followed were unfailing in hitting their targets. Reminding the world leaders, particularly those of the rich and developed countries which are mainly responsible for major carbon emission, of their moral obligation--- by no means a charity---Guterres makes a strong case for their contribution to the climate fund.
In this context, the approval on Sunday of the developing nations' agenda of monetary compensation for 'loss and damage' already caused can be considered a good beginning. For Bangladesh, it is particularly savouring to note that Bill and Melinda Gates has pledged $1.4 billion to help small holder farmers in Bangladesh cope with the impacts of climate change. Once the world's richest person Bill Gates perhaps wanted to send a message to the rich world that not only the governments of the developed world but also the superrich and rich have a role to mitigate the woes of the climate vulnerable in parts of the planet where natural calamities wreak havoc with lives and livelihoods. That the news of this donation comes right at the time of the COP27 is significant. Of late, the frequency and ferocity of such calamities have only crossed past records most likely because of the heedless acts of the rich world.
The rich world is also feeling the heat of the planet's turmoil. They are also suffering the worst type of natural calamities ---some of those never experienced before---in their own backyard. For example, Europe's temperature has risen twice as fast as the global average in the past 30 years. There is no way of living in an ivory tower for rich nations. When the world needed to join hands together to get over the post-Covid-19 adverse impacts on economies, nasty geopolitics stoked a war between Russia and Ukraine. An exacerbated energy crisis and soaring prices have not only rendered millions defenceless against hunger and diseases, but also left no option other than increasing use of carbon-emitting fossil fuels including coal.
At a time when there was need for far greater investment in research on and innovation of affordable green technologies for shifting to clean energy, the war may have delayed the transition by a decade or decades. This is why the UN chief has warned of a mass annihilation of the human race. Already, the temperature has risen to 1.2 degree Celsius over the pre-industrial level. The war is set to upset the UN target of arresting the temperature rise well below the 1.5 C above that level. There will be a point of no return if the world cannot agree to reduce greenhouse gas emission. If the human species goes extinct, it will have none other than itself to blame.