Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|November 9, 2022|3 Minutes|In Opinion


Should billionaires COP the bill?

Billionaires shouldn’t have to pour money into the gaps left by the rich nations in fighting climate change. 

That was the big and bold claim made by Amazon founding billionaire Jeff Bezos, as COP27 opened in Egypt to examine ways to stop the planet from dying from disregard for the environment. It came in response to the UN Green Climate Fund looking for contributions from high-net-worth individuals and big businesses.

It is becoming clearer that the rich – and rich nations – are going to have to foot the growing bill to save the planet from the searing temperatures,  destructive tempests, rising flood waters, and ruined crops.

For it is ironic that Africa produces a tiny fraction of the world’s greenhouse gases – about 4% of the total – but is likely to suffer the most with its vulnerable crops, coastlines, flooding rivers, and growing deserts.

It makes common sense that the rich nations of the northern hemisphere are going to have to chip in to stop Africa from falling into an environmental catastrophe that is likely to reverberate across the world. After all, a lot of wealth in the northern hemisphere – especially in Belgium which ruthlessly raped the Congo – comes from rich African resources gathered on the cheap.

To an extent, Bezos has put $10 billion where his mouth is, through his  Bezos Earth Fund. In many ways, so he should; millions of vans delivering Amazon goods have spewed greenhouse gases into the air, while countless tonnes of his plastic packaging litter the land.

Yet, Bezos is a shrewd billionaire who knows that his $10 billion is a mere drop in the ocean when it comes to the total bill.  He says it is not the job of billionaires to fill in the cracks where UN and government money fails; he knows even they can’t afford it.

For instance, it’s going to cost $8.5 billion alone to de-commission the coal plants in South Africa that belch out the bulk of the country’s greenhouse gases. That is merely one project that’s going to cost the same as Bezos paid for film studio MGM – what about the rest of the continent?

I believe it is the UN and state coffers that should foot the bill for combating climate change in Africa and plan carefully to make this happen. Talk is not going to solve anything.

Billions from billionaires who can spare them are welcome but the world should not take these for granted, nor rely upon them.