At the second Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change this week, Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said regional countries need not be apologetic in getting the developed world to meet their commitment in dealing with the impact of climate change.
Addressing the two-day conference, Mitchell said that his country has already felt the impact of climate change with most of the beaches on the northeastern coast “have already disappeared.
“You have ocean, sargassum and land. There are no beaches. So what our foreparents had the privilege of enjoying 40 or 50 years ago we do not have that privilege. And so the question is do we continue along that line or do we fight?
“We have to be passionate about this, perhaps even angry about the issue because if we accept that 20 per cent of the world has caused this, and if we accept that same 20 per cent of the world controls 85 per cent of the GDP (gross domestic product) then the question is why should me, you and us…continue to quietly, slowly watch our way of life slip by, while those who created the industrial revolution …continue to enjoy the high standard of living.”
Mitchell told the audience that included the Bahamas Prime Minister Phillip Davis and his St Kitts-Nevis counterpart, Dr Terrance Drew, as well as senior officials from Germany-based United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Secretariat that some of these developed countries were now beginning to experience the effects of climate change.
“They now have unseasonal hot weather, wildfires etc. But they have the capacity to respond. They can go inland, they can relocate to an entirely new state, we can’t. When the sea level rises there is no place to go in the Bahamas that’s the reality of what we are dealing with.
“So we need to be unapologetic in our passion, in our drive and in our commitment to doing this,” Mitchell said, adding that the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) recognise the challenge underscoring the importance of being present at all meeting where climate change issues are being discussed.
“We can’t go to war, literally because we do not have that kind of arsenal, but the arsenal we have is our unity, our commitment, our steadfastness. It is that same approach that made us independent countries.”
He told the audience that this kind of commitment is needed among regional SIDS on dealing with the climate crisis.
“So if it took 30 years for loss and damage to make it finally on the agenda, if it takes 400 years for the funds to be given to us, we will have to continue to fight because there is no hope in the Bahamas when the sea level rises and so we must keep fighting”.
Mitchell said that the fight is all about showing the developing countries the funds pledged by the developed world to deal with climate change issues, adding “it is about showing us the money…CARICOM is well placed to manage the trust funds, the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) is well-placed to manage the trust funds, SIDS is well-placed to manage the trust funds.
“No disrespect to our development partners, but the trust fund does not have to be in Germany, does not have to be in South Korea…and that is what we are asking for,” he said, adding that it is important for the region to understand that despite the daunting challenges “we cannot lose hope.
“To lose hope would essentially be to give up on the next generation of Caribbean islanders who are to live and prosper on these islands,” he said, welcoming the delegates to the Tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and whether “it is an island worth fighting for and if it is…the same theme of unity continues to run through today and tomorrow”.
He said when the Caribbean countries reach Dubai in November where the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28) will be held, we will need that unity “not just among us the islanders, but our development partners.
“We accept that we can’t do it alone,” Mitchell said.
The Caribbean SIDS are some of the most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts which will become critical if no appropriate action is taken. Global warming, Sea level rise, increased intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones, storm surges and droughts, as well as changing precipitation patterns, and coral bleaching are critical threats to SIDS.
For example, among the 29 Caribbean SIDS, 22 were affected by at least one Category 4 or 5 tropical storm in 2017 with an estimated cost of US$93 billion.
The meeting here will focus on six thematic areas including financing the transition to renewable energy in the Caribbean, tapping into the potential of wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectricity as well as transforming international financial architecture, enabling access to blue and green finance, and regional collaboration on carbon pricing mechanisms.Accelerating e-mobility: lowering costs, reducing emissions, and building a reliable transportation system