Even though the name 'Madagascar' may invoke images of lush rainforests filled with a unique array of birds and animals, the beautiful island paradise is on the verge of witnessing the first climate change-induced famine of the modern era.
According to the World Food Programme's (WFP) latest country brief, at least 14,000 people in the southern part of the country are currently facing severe famine and around 370,000 are on a grim march to a similar fate.
You may be familiar with the opinion that famines are almost always man-made.
In his 1983 book, "Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation," Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen argued that famines are not simply caused by a lack of food; government policies and other human actions cause famines or exacerbate their damaging impacts. This has largely been true since the dawn of the modern world.
But Madagascar is the exception. As one of the poorest countries in Africa, the country relies mostly on small, rain-fed farms. But the four years of continuous drought has caused all the rivers and dams to dry up, decreasing food production up to 60 percent in the most populated regions.
People are trying to live off the land, but that too has been left barren. As a result, they are being forced to survive off of raw cacti, wild leaves and locusts. Even though the southern part has faced the worst of the crisis so far, almost 1.14 million people in the whole country have already become food insecure.
According to the aforementioned report, at least half a million children under the age of five in southern Madagascar will become acutely malnourished. Some are expected to be so severely malnourished that they will require urgent life-saving assistance.
As it is the lean season in Madagascar, when no crop is sown, the situation is expected to deteriorate further. If it continues to worsen at the current rate, 1.31 million people will face a food crisis while the number of people in acute famine will double by December.
Even though WFP has been able to reach many of the affected areas, it still is not enough. The organisation urgently requires $91 million to sustainably assist Madagascar's population till the April of next year. It is expecting critical pipeline breaks for emergency response as soon as January 2022.
The country will require further assistance in the upcoming sowing season. It needs improved infrastructure for better water management, drought-resistant crops, breeds of cattle that need less water and improved methods of irrigation.
Such an enormous endeavour will require money, resources, better technology and technological and agricultural expertise which the country does not possess. But failing to meet these necessities can result in a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.
In 2010, developed countries pledged to provide developing nations with $100 billion annually to reduce emissions and to take climate adaptive measures by 2020. But they repeatedly have fallen short of achieving this target.
But this is an awfully small fraction of the trillions of dollars needed to effectively combat the crisis. Additionally, the funds have not been distributed equally.
According to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report, most of that fund has been received by east and south Asian countries. Two-thirds of all climate financing since 2013 has been made to mitigate emissions but that is not going to be significant as these countries produce low levels of emission already.
But most damningly, according to Oxfam, most of this funding has been provided through various types of loans, not grants. This goes against the principle of reparation as developing countries will not only have to pay back the money, they will have to pay that money back with interest.
This lack of funding will certainly create a need for more resources. According to a UN estimate, adaptive measures in developing countries will require $500 billion annually by 2050.
The trillions of dollars developed nations mobilised to fight the pandemic proves that they certainly have the resources for sustained long-term funding, but are simply unwilling to do so to fight climate change. This can bring nothing but catastrophic consequences.
Funding for adaptive measures will also be beneficial for the developed nations of the world. If other crises, similar to the one in Madagascar start to arise in the coming years, Europe and the USA will have to face an avalanche of climate refugees.
Many of these refugees will not be able to obtain visas and will have to immigrate illegally. This will overwhelm their institutions, putting pressure on their countries' immigration, national security and welfare system. Illegal immigration can also create political instability, as we have already seen in the past years.
But the existing climate financing mechanisms are clearly not having an adequate impact. The world needs a more revolutionary redistributive method to prepare the least developed countries for what is to come.
Climate reparation is such an alternative. The main concept is pretty self-explanatory, reimbursing nations that produce very low amounts of greenhouse gas but suffer from the worst climate-change related disasters.
Two main mechanisms can be put in place. The first method will allow countries to negotiate terms for a just and playable amount of reparation from high-emission countries to low-emission ones. The countries will then sign a legally binding contract that can be used to ensure the recipient gets their full payment in time.
The second method is far messier. Under this method, countries will tort-litigations against major fossil fuel companies or other companies that generate significant amounts of greenhouse gas. Tort litigation is aimed at companies that cause major damage to someone or something. As greenhouse gas emission has caused significant disasters in recent years, there are certainly grounds to claim reparations.
The recipient nation of these reparations can then use these funds as they see fit. For countries that have already started to suffer from the severe consequences of climate change, the fund will allow them to take up adaptive measures. Others can spend fittingly to both mitigate the effects of global warming and instate measures to ensure their survival.
There have never been reformation attempts that reap rewards from the status quo. Pushing for such an ambitious plan will, at the very least, oblige developed nations to spend their resources effectively for the sake of the rest of the world.
It will also force them to enforce rigorous environmental protection laws and adapt green energy at a far more rapid pace; lessening the suffering of the people in low-income countries.
Climate reparation may seem like a distant dream as developed nations are not paying their parts in the existing climate funds. But these half-hearted measures to combat the biggest threat to humanity in this age will certainly spell doom for the established global and financial order.