kalibata3_GUILLEM SARTORIOAFP via Getty Images_africafarmerwoman Guillem Sartorio/AFP via Getty Images

Powering Sustainable Food Systems

As world leaders mark Earth Day at a climate summit hosted by US President Joe Biden, they must remember what the largest greenhouse-gas emitters owe to the rest of the world. More than anyone, low-income countries dependent on agriculture need increased green finance and access to affordable clean energy.

NAIROBI – The 17 members of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate generate around 80% of global greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. That means they have the power to pull the brakes on the climate emergency. As political leaders from the world’s richest countries gather for a US-hosted climate summit on Earth Day (April 22), they must use the occasion to acknowledge their shared responsibility to the planet and everyone on it.

The countries most affected by climate change bear the least responsibility for the problem. Of the 16 most climate-vulnerable countries, ten are in Asia and five are in Africa, where millions rely on agriculture but lack access to the clean energy that they will need to power a more resilient and profitable future. For these countries, “building back better” will be a stretch. They are already being held back by developed countries’ own energy and agriculture sectors, which are the leading sources of GHG emissions.

The period between now and the United Nations climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for world leaders to build a “climate-smart” framework for tackling the twin challenges of food and energy insecurity. This will be necessary to support developing countries in leapfrogging to a sustainable growth and development model.

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