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Developing countries like Antigua and Barbuda are acutely aware of the impact of climate change and the high price of responding to it.
Despite the urgent need to adapt and mitigate against the effects of climate change, these countries lack the necessary financial resources to do so effectively.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne has acknowledged this challenge and emphasized the need for international support to help developing countries cope with the devastating effects of climate change.
Browne told the three-day 114th Session of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Council, “our challenges become even more daunting, with an unresponsive international financial architecture, that fails to prioritize concessional funding to assist SIDS (Small Island Developing States) to rebuild in the aftermath of these climate-related incidents or shocks.
As part of the “Climate Impact on Human Mobility: A Global Call for Solutions” initiative, a video presentation by Browne shed light on the fact that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been faced with the burden of repeatedly borrowing funds to repair damaged infrastructure and recover from economic losses due to climate change.
He told the Council, “We do this repeatedly to keep our countries viable, and to avert the possibility of our people becoming climate migrants or refugees. SIDS suffer the greatest financial burden to climate change on a per capita basis, despite the fact that they contribute the least CO2 emissions globally, a mere 0.5 percent,”
Adding, “They are the greatest victims, not only because of unattended loss and damage to lives and livelihoods but also because the very existence of these countries is fatally endangered,”
Browne said, questioning “why should citizens and residents During an interview, the Prime Minister stated that his main objective at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, is to focus on the Loss and Damage Fund.
Browne, who championed the fund during Antigua and Barbuda’s chairmanship of the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) last year, recalled that at COP27, the world’s largest polluters agreed that such a fund was important and decided to establish a transitional committee to make recommendations for consideration at COP28.
“As we approach COP28, we must insist that the loss and damage fund be made operational without any further delays. The fund must provide adequate financing to help SIDS withstand the seas as they rise, the winds as they increase in strength; and resources to rebuild when all our efforts to build resilience against climatic events fail,” he said
The Prime Minister also highlighted the need for more action, ambition, and political will to tackle the issue of climate change. Failure to do so could result in a significant increase in climate migrants and refugees, leading to mobility issues across the world.
The Prime Minister warned that the effects of climate change are no longer a distant issue, but rather an existential threat to humanity.
The rapid rate at which the climate is changing should be a cause for concern, and a strong global response is required. Climate-related devastations are occurring more frequently and with greater impact, affecting countries, communities, and individuals worldwide.
The Prime Minister emphasized that no one is immune, and no one can be safe until everyone is safe. Small island states are particularly vulnerable, despite producing negligible emissions of greenhouse gases.
They continue to face the unrelenting forces of tropical cyclones, prolonged droughts, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and shifting weather patterns. These events are becoming more frequent and severe and will continue to worsen unless urgent action is taken by countries worldwide.