By Makeida Antonio
Efforts being made by Prime Minister Gaston Browne to seek legal remedies in order to address the impact of climate change being felt by Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been questioned by one vocal environmentalist.
In 2021, during his trip to COP26, Prime Minister Browne signed an agreement with the Pacific Island of Tuvalu in order to gain financial compensation from some of the globe’s major polluters.
But although he admitted that Browne’s move is commendable, environmentalist John Mussington said that based on his actions locally, the Prime Minister should not be on the frontlines of the climate change fight
“Yes, I agree that we need assistance in terms of these small islands in order for us to be able to cope because we are basically being threatened by being wiped out every year when these massive storms come in. Not only the storms but the unpredictability of the weather. One time it’s dry like anything next time you get torrential rainfall and you don’t know when it’s going to come and it affects us.
“Where I have a problem, though — and many of us in Antigua and Barbuda have this problem — is the right message but the wrong messenger. It is very hypocritical on the part of our Prime Minister to go and make those claims. Although the claims are right and so on, what he is doing on the ground is totally contrary to the principles of the Climate Agreement and the things that we need to have in place to be able to survive,” Mussington said in an interview with Observer.
The environmentalist further claimed that some of the major development projects being undertaken in Antigua and Barbuda continue to negatively impact the country’s natural protection to disasters such as hurricanes.
“One of the key things we need in able to survive as small islands is our ecosystems, our coastal ecosystems and forests, those are our frontline protection. I’m talking about the forests, mangroves, wetlands, the seagrass beds, the coral reefs and the beaches,” Mussington cited as examples.
He added that PM Browne has been merely ‘talking the talk’ and not ‘walking the walk’.
“When we have a prime minister with major projects that are targeting those very areas which we have protected for decades, when you have projects specifically geared towards destroying these places — you have the YIDA in Antigua and the PLH in Barbuda — you can’t be saying you are going to these people to say look you must help us and … the things that we need to keep intact, our contribution to helping ourselves, you’re destroying those,” Mussington also claimed.
Observer contacted Prime Minister Browne for a response to the statements made by Mussington, however, he declined to comment on the matter.