Barbados PM warns of ‘death sentence’ for low lying states if climate change not controlled

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By Vishani Ragobeer

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Low-lying states vulnerable to rising sea levels face a death sentence if adequate efforts are not made to slow global warming, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said Monday at the opening ceremony of the Un Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

She was the only Caribbean leader to speak at the opening ceremony. The increase in global temperatures, known as global warming, threatens countries with worsening climate events such as floods, heatwaves, droughts and others. Mottley noted that because small states are increasingly vulnerable to the worst effects of climate change, increased global temperatures will impact these smaller, developing countries first.

“Two degrees is a death sentence for the people of Antigua and Barbuda, for the people of the Maldives, for the people of Dominica and Fiji, for the people of Kenya and Mozambique and yes, for the people of Samoa and Barbados.

“We do not want that death sentence and we are here to say try harder,” the Prime Minister said.

Countries are meeting at the climate summit, called COP26, to work towards the global goal of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. If this limit is exceeded, scientists have predicted that worsening climatic events will threaten people’s lives, livelihoods and food systems.

Among the actions being advocated for are the reduction in gas emissions from burning fossil fuels like oil, speeding up a transition to the use of more renewable sources of energy (such as solar and hydro energy) and adequate financing to help small, developing countries to become more resilient to climate change.

Guyana, for example, has announced an updated Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) wherein the country intends to receive funds to save its intact forest while pursuing a prolific oil and gas industry.

Guyana’s forest stores some 21.8 billion tonnes of carbon. If the trees are cut down, harmful gases would be released into the atmosphere which would cause further harm to the environment by increasing global warming.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mottley also emphasised that these small countries have not received adequate finance to rebuild sustainably or fund their efforts to cut emissions and increase the use of renewable energy.

She emphasised, “…. failure to provide critical finance is measured in lives and livelihoods in our communities.”

While calling for the larger, developed countries to stick to their financial commitments, she asks, too, “… are we so blinded and hardened that we can no longer appreciate the cries of humanity?”

Previously, both Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali and Prime Minister Mottley said that these smaller countries need the necessary finance to aid their development in light of climate change.

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