Caribbean leaders had their say in Glasgow at this year’s Conference of Parties (COP-26) Global Climate Change Summit, again sounding the alarm about worsening Climate Change effects on small-island nations.
Appealing against what Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley described as a ‘death sentence’ for the region, each used their allocated three minutes to paint the same picture: of a region paying more for doing less to contribute to the global problem — and being left alone to face and pay the consequences dearly, with no meaningful help from the guilty parties present.
Climate Changes have been changing island life everywhere — especially in the past four decades – and long before the changing climate was regarded as the global threat it is today.
CARICOM nations suffer annual losses that take many years for their small economies, wrecked by high winds and strong rains, to even start recovering from.
After Glasgow, the Climate Change havoc caused to SIDS remain key issues for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) island nations.
In Glasgow, they talked and tried hard to show their commitment to walk for the cause, but it’s Crystal-Clear that even their loudest voices sounded or were treated like whispers.
What they said and how the rich nations respond will determine how SIDS navigate their way out of the rising seas of despair and discontent.
But as they returned home, Caribbean leaders could hardly have been pleased that the usual suspects have committed to do things that hardly anyone believes will be done, including promises no one believes will be delivered.
The traditional international news agencies have made sparkling headlines out of “over 100 nations” promising unlikely deliveries.
Even before Glasgow, the G-20 Summit in Rome had seen the leaders set different timelines for reducing global carbon emissions that ranged from 2050 to “around the middle of the century” to “by 2060”.
A big hullabaloo was made at COP-26 about the fact that ‘100 leaders in charge of 85% of the world’s forests’ had agreed to end deforestation by 2030, which young people across Europe would describe as ‘Blah, Blah, Blah!’
Ironically, demands for forestry products aren’t about to reduce when more lumber will be needed worldwide to repair hurricane, storm, typhoon, tsunami, whirlwind, tornado and other natural disasters accelerated by failure to deliver on repeated earlier promises to help.
Over 190 nations signed-up in Scotland to quit use of coal – except Australia, China, USA and UK, without whose participation there’s simply no hope – pure blah, as many will say.
The rich nations also promised US $100 Billion worth of Climate Financing to help the world combat the changes and their effects on islands and continents, but here again they failed to deliver.
They talk about ‘climate financing’, but are demonstrably more interested in ‘monetizing climate change’, as advocated by the top US negotiator, John Kerry.
Companies are already lining-up to join the hopeful monetizing bonanza, with over 400 in the UK already having signed-up to promise related actions.
Youth from across Europe and Scotland descended on Glasgow yesterday to register their disaffection with all the talk again not matching the walk – a similar point made here earlier this week by Dr Jimmy Fletcher, a former Labour government minister and unrelenting environmental and climate change campaigner.
All the voices were heard in Glasgow – from the Queen in London to the Pope in Rome, from President Biden to Prince Charles, from veteran broadcaster and environmental campaigner Sir David Attenborough to young campaign leader Greta Thunberg.
But unfortunately, they were never loud-enough to be heard or felt by the leaders of those nations best able to make and influence changes needed at the global level for a real positive difference for developing countries and SIDS.
So, did the Caribbean leaders waste time going to Glasgow?
No, they didn’t, as every forum of this kind also always brings with it challenges that always bring opportunities for revisiting old approaches and examining current experiences to successfully plan for the future.
In that sense, lessons learned can also be as fruitful as fruits earned.