Disputes over climate, much more than the war in Ukraine, will be the great polarizing factors worldwide in the coming years, warn Pascal Lamy and Angel Guria, the former and current presidents of the Paris Peace Forum.

“We have urgent situations. We have to stop the conflict in Ukraine, the pandemic, poverty, food security, but the most important responsibility towards the next generations concerns the climate,” Mexico’s Angel Gurria, the Forum’s new president, told AFP. which was established in 2018 and is attended by heads of state, experts and non-governmental organizations every year.

“Polarization on climate issues is growing a lot,” warns the Forum’s former president, Frenchman Pascal Lamy. “The real cause of conflict today,” he adds, “is the climate,” citing the resolution on “losses and damages” discussed at the UN Climate Conference, COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.

The text of the pledges, pulled out at the last minute by the poorest countries that have been clamoring for it for decades, provides for a mechanism to compensate rich countries, which are the main polluters, for “losses and damages” due to the disasters that caused by climate change.

The operational details of this decision are expected to be determined at the upcoming COP in 2028 in Dubai, which promises new tensions with the contributing countries as developed countries insist that China be part of them.

The conflict over global warming between the North and the South can be linked, according to Pascal Lamy, to “an extremely simple – as well as effective – political narrative” which can be summed up as follows: “It is you (the North) who put this carbon in the atmosphere and it is we (the South) who will be the main victims.”

Former Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Angel Guria succeeded Pascal Lamy, former Director-General of the World Trade Organization, on March 23 as head of the Paris Peace Forum, with a mission to focus on addressing the climate change.

This Forum, founded with the impetus of Emmanuel Macron, aspires to be an alternative to the major international institutions that have lost “in relevance, in legitimacy” and “most importantly” according to Pascal Lamy “in effectiveness”.

And five years after it was first organized, “the initial diagnosis is unfortunately confirmed,” the Russian invasion of Ukraine has significant international implications, he laments.

– Against China’s isolation –

Pascal Lamy disagrees with the idea that the war in Ukraine boils down to “the West versus the rest”, as in this conflict, if indeed the West supports Ukraine, there is also “a distant camp” and a “small” group of countries who stand on the side of Russia.

China, India and Brazil realize “that they have to do something” to find a way out of the war, as Moscow does not have “the idea of ​​peace”, Washington says for its part that “it is not the time” , underlines Angel Guria.

More than Moscow, Washington’s main rival is Beijing, but the two experts warn of a possible isolation of the Asian giant because a China pushed to self-sufficiency “is more dangerous than a globalized China”, Lamy estimates.

He believes, for example, that if Beijing announced military support for Russia and the West responded with sanctions, it would open the way for China to try to “put a hand on Taiwan.”

Regarding global warming, China is also called to be a key contributor to the “loss and damage” fund set up in Sharm El Sheikh.

However, Pascal Lamy wonders about Beijing’s position in the coming years. As it is considered a developing country, China is also one of the most polluting countries in the world. “Environmentally, China is not the South,” says Pascal Lamy.

The Paris Peace Forum is preparing its upcoming event on 10 and 11 November with four primary themes: health, digital technology, space and climate, with a focus on the poles and oceans.