Leaders prepare for crucial global climate confab

CARICOM Chairman and Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne.
Gov't of Antigua and Barbuda

Caribbean leaders and technical experts participating in next month’s annual global climate change conference say they are determined to make their voices heard about the deteriorating situation on the planet as there is no doubt that the region and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are bearing the brunt of irresponsible behavior by the developed world.

CARICOM Chairman and Antiguan Prime Minister, Gaston Browne convened a pre-summit planning meeting with regional leaders on Monday in a bid to harmonize the regional position for the two-week conference to be held in the United Kingdom from Nov. 12. Regional ministers of the environment are to also meet this week and they have a similar preparatory assignment as their heads of government bosses.

Speaking to this publication early Wednesday, PM Browne said the region will waste no time in pressing the developed world to ensure that global temperatures are not increased to a point where normal life becomes unbearable so therefore “we will be reminding them about the fact that if the temperature increases beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, it will not only affect our beloved Caribbean nations but all of humanity will be seriously affected. We can’t afford anything above that 1.5 figure. We want our delegations to be vociferous and strident in making their positions known on the world stage as climate change is real and so are its effects,” Browne said.

He said no one needs reminding about the fact that climate and weather patterns are definitely changing as he pointed to the situation in 2017 when mega storms Irma and Maria came ashore in several Caricom and wider Caribbean countries, with maximum winds of up to 178 miles per hour. The storms were a mere two weeks apart and some of those which were lashed by Irma were also affected by Maria before they could properly begin relief and recovery efforts. Superstorm As well, Dorian also came calling on The Bahamas in 2019, devastating some of the more important islands in the archipelago even as the country is still struggling to recover. Dorian is rated as one of the top five strongest storms in recorded history.

“These storms are becoming more ferocious and devastating. There is no doubt about that as we say storms that were the strongest in our history in 2017. And right here in Antigua and Barbuda, we have our own examples as droughts and dry spells have increased in intensity in the past nine years and when it finally rains, we have floods to deal with. Also, world renowned Dickenson Bay Beach, rated as one of the best in the world, has gone under water and is now a bay more than a beach,” Browne said.

So far eight CARICOM leaders have indicated plans to attend the summit in Glasgow.

At their virtual meeting this week, leaders had preliminary discussions on plans to establish a climate change commission that would could give the region and other (SIDS) nations, a mechanism to take developed countries and polluting mega companies to The World Court to make them pay for polluting the planet and for the damage they cause to small island and low lying states like Guyana, Suriname and Belize. Browne said the details would be announced in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Douglas Slater, the assistant CARICOM secretary general responsible for such issues, says the region will also be pressing the more powerful and richer polluting nations to deal with grant aid and concessional financing to help with climate change mitigation and adaptation issues.

“These same developed states had pledged to raise US$100 billion per year to help SIDS (small nations) and other nations address climate change impacts but they have not been meeting such obligations. They are a long way off and not on the road to meet that figure. We will be pressing them for equal funding for climate adaptation and mitigation,” he said early Wednesday.

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