Prime Minister Gaston Browne has put world leaders on early notice, that when Small Island Developing States attends the upcoming COP 27 in Egypt, it will not be business as usual.
Browne was specific about their intentions, saying that small states individually, and collectively under Antigua and Barbuda’s Chairmanship of the Intergovernmental organization of low-lying coastal and small island countries will attend COP 27 in Egypt and argue to establish a new loss and damage response fund.
“On the eve of COP 26 in Glasgow last year, we launched, The Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (COSIS). The Commission’s purpose is to develop and implement fair and just global environmental norms and practices,” he said at the UN on Friday.
In this connection, Browne said it will seek an opinion from the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, regarding the binding obligations of its member states, to mitigate the effects of their greenhouse gas emissions, or to pay for the loss and damage they cause.
“This effort is separate from, but complementary to, the Vanuatu initiative. Mr. President, our small countries have talked ourselves hoarse since the 1980s, pointing to the parlous circumstances into which our people and our countries are being plunged. But with little avail,” he said.
Furthermore, Browne said billions of dollars were pledged in climate finance and not delivered.
“Promises were repeated, year after year, each with a zealousness that, on the evidence, was meant to placate and divert, but not to perform and deliver, commensurate with the loss suffered and the damage caused. The stage now seems set for this year’s COP 27 to fail, despite the genuine efforts of some industrialized nations, to address the grave concerns of the majority of the world’s people to turn climate change into Climate action,” he added.
He said small states individually, and collectively under Antigua and Barbuda’s Chairmanship of AOSIS, will also attend COP 27 in Egypt and argue strenuously to establish a new loss and damage response fund.
“But we recognize that reliance on the conscience of others will not be enough and may not produce the results we – and the world – urgently need. We have been patient. We have urged. We have pleaded. We have begged. And, yet, year after year, small island states bear the overwhelming burden of Climate Change’s catastrophic effects, including persistent destruction, repeated costs of rebuilding, and huge debts to finance resilience. This injustice must end,” he said
The Antigua and Barbuda prime minister insists that those States most responsible for this dire situation respect their obligations to stop global warming and to provide compensation to its victims.
“We will engage fully and constructively at COP 27, we will also use all means necessary, to pursue the objectives of the Commission of Small States, and we invite all countries, whose people’s lives and livelihoods are at grave risk, to join us. Mr. President, while I have focused mystatement, so far, on the damaging effects of Climate Change on SIDS, let it not be believed that the industrialized nations -, the rich and the powerful – have been immune,” he said.
Browne in his address talks about rising temperatures above 40° Celsius in Britain, Spain, France, and Portugal, a heatwave recorded in china, which scientists say was the most severe recorded in the world, and Floods that hit Pakistan with nearly 800% more rainfall than normal, affecting tens of millions of people and leaving a third of the country under water.
He also referred to winter temperatures in the southern hemisphere which rose above 45° Celsius in South America, while temperatures in some parts of Antarctica were almost 40° Celsius higher than average.
“Last year, natural disasters in the U.S. inflicted an estimated $145 billion in damage and killed nearly 700 people. This year was no better. So, Mr. President, even if some of the governments of the industrialized nations remain reluctant to curb greenhouse gas emissions for the sake of the most vulnerable globally, they should be motivated by the perils of their people. We are all in this together. While SIDS will suffer more swiftly and greater, no nation will escape,” he said.