Next month in Glasgow, the UK, Bhutan will lead 46 least developed countries (LDC) at the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).  As the chair of the LDC since 2019, the meeting will be the last under Bhutan’s chairmanship.

But that’s not important. What is significant is that Bhutan and the LDCs will take the Thimphu Call for Ambition and Action on Climate Change to COP26.

Chief of LDC Group at the ministerial level, Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji, said that the pandemic has hit everyone around the globe but the one billion people living in the 46 LDCs are the worst hit, facing quadruple crises of climate change, poverty, health, and economic challenges that are outpacing the disease itself.

“Climate change, by contrast, has no vaccine and poses a threat that is exponentially larger and far less reversible, and ultimately existential if we do not act now,” he said. That’s a powerful statement. The irony, though, is that even with all the expertise they have the rich countries continue to contribute significantly to climate change.

According to a UN story, the world’s wealthiest 1 percent produces more than double the combined carbon emissions of the poorest 50 percent and calls for the world’s wealthy to change their lifestyles radically to tackle climate change.

The negotiation is not going to be easy going by past experiences but LDCs must mount the pressure, now more than ever. As is spelt out in the Thimphu Call for Ambition and Action the LDCs must call upon parties, in particular the G20 countries, to enhance their nationally determined contributions in line with 1.5°C pathways and consistent with their responsibilities and capabilities to undertake climate action to reduce the emissions gap to 1.5°C.  

Bhutan submitted its second NDC in June 2021, setting much more ambitious targets without changing the country’s carbon-neutral goal. What is obvious is the LDCs face and will continue to confront challenges such as shortage of funds to maintain their determined contributions and mount plans and activities related to fighting climate change.

The world will need more than USD 100 billion commitment from the developed countries to address the needs of developing countries.

The chair of climate negotiations, Sonam P Wangdi, said that the COP26 must prioritise the issue of loss and damage caused by climate change. “Our people are suffering in a variety of ways as a result of a crisis that they did little to cause…It is now time to discuss how the international community can fairly address the loss and the damage manifesting in developing countries because of climate change.”

Climate change is a global problem which must be tackled globally. We have heard enough hollow promises from the rich countries. What we must not forget is that the Glasgow meet is perhaps the world’s final chance to pause and commit itself to a new and sustainable model of development.

If Bhutan can’t lead the LDCs to win the deal at COP26, chances of LDCs ever being heard in such an important global summit is slim. It’s a heavy burden on Bhutan and LDCs. That’s precisely why the group must do all in their capacity to get a fair deal.