By Orville Williams
Prime Minister Gaston Browne will be leading an experienced team to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to lobby for urgent attention on several climate change-related issues.
One of the major issues on their agenda is the fact that some of the richest, most developed countries in the world are the biggest contributors to global climate change, yet much poorer and less developed nations are the ones that most often feel the worst effects.
This reality is very unfair, according to PM Browne, who said they will be pushing for these rich countries to accept their responsibility and support poor countries, both financially and otherwise, in their efforts to safeguard themselves against climate change.
“We believe that because they’re the root cause of this problem – global warming and the attendant climate threats –they have an obligation to help small states with limited resources, with funding to build capacity to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change.
“As it stands now, whenever there is damage from these hurricanes and other climate events, we depend on the developed countries to give us handouts. But we’re saying here, they’re the ones who have created the problem and there’s a principle in law that wherever there’s injury, the person who injures must provide some level of restitution.
“So, we’re hoping that we could make some progress on the issue of loss and damage, but Antigua and Barbuda is prepared to go even further … we’re about to develop a small island states commission to address this issue of loss and damage and to pursue legal remedies,” he explained.
A group of these countries had already pledged to provide funding, in the form of US $100 billion to assist in the adaptation and mitigation of climate change effects. The PM says they will be held to that commitment and even asked to fork more out.
“What we’re saying, in essence, is that they’ve made these pledges but they’ve not quite fulfilled them in full. So, I’ll be pushing them not only to meet that 100 billion USD target, but also to exceed it in the future and to ensure that a significant portion of it is utilized for mitigation and adaptation.”
Accompanying Browne to Glasgow, Scotland will be Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Sir Molwyn Joseph and Director of the Department of Environment Ambassador Diann Black-Layne.
Ambassador Aubrey Webson, Antigua and Barbuda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, will be leading a section of the delegation as Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), while Minister responsible for the Blue Economy Dean Jonas, will also be attending along with a delegation from the University of the West Indies (the UWI) Five Islands campus.
The Antigua and Barbuda delegation will also be looking to highlight the matter of adherence to the Paris Agreement, with many larger countries still contributing significantly to global warming.
Those countries, Browne noted, should instead be putting measures in place to make clean, renewable energy products and services more accessible.
“We would have noted since the Paris Agreement that both developed and advanced developing countries have made about $1.6 trillion available to fossil fuel companies and that is certainly moving in the wrong direction.
“What we want to see is subsidies for green energy, so that they can become more affordable; that will help to facilitate our transition to these green energy applications, as we seek to become carbon neutral by about 2040.”
COP26 will kick off next Sunday October 31 in Glasgow and run until November 12. Leaders from around the world will be gathered at the event, meant to “accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change”.