From Rome (G20) to Glasgow (COP26) – Action demanded


Small and vulnerable states are facing a death sentence. Action is needed now, not next year and not next decade. From Mia Mottley, PM of Barbados at Opening of COP26

By Elizabeth Morgan

As I have been telling you in my previous articles, there are myriad crises facing the world and humanity which must be addressed collectively through multilateralism. Prior to COP26 on climate change, the leaders of the Group of Twenty (G20), the major economic powers, met in Rome, Italy (October 30-31) to address these critical global issues. The G20 Leaders’ Declaration of 20 pages reflects the range of issues addressed which includes the global economy, health, sustainable development, support to vulnerable countries, international financial architecture, food security/nutrition/agriculture/food systems, environment, energy and climate, international taxation, and trade and investment. Coming on the eve of COP 26, the focus of commentators on the G20 was the climate change outcome.

The UN Climate Change campaign video has a dinosaur (extinct for 65 million years) addressing the UN General Assembly advising that “ going extinct is a bad thing” and appealing to humans “don’t choose extinction … stop making excuses and start making changes.” Dinosaurs were on earth, it is estimated,’ for 165 million years before going extinct. The human effort to bring about its own extinction, having succeeded with other fauna and flora, began just 261 years ago when industrialization started and accelerated in the last 141 years since the use of fossil fuels began. It will be record breaking!

The question raised out of the G20 was, did these leaders take the dire warnings seriously, including from a dinosaur? If they did not, could the States Parties meeting in Glasgow do anything better?

Looking at the section of the G20 Declaration on Energy and Climate, leaders in attendance, some were not, committed to tackling the critical and urgent threat of climate change and to work collectively to achieve a successful COP 26. Though they committed, recognized and acknowledged, many commentators were not reassured that there would be concrete action emerging in Glasgow.

Action required

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley

Well, COP26 began in earnest on Monday in Glasgow with the 2 day summit of world leaders. CARICOM Leaders were quite prominent on day one, with Barbados’ Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, who is President of UNCTAD XV, speaking at the opening ceremony. Others speaking were Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, chair of CARICOM, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS/SIDS), Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica, and Prime Minister John Briceño of Belize. A joint CARICOM regional declaration on Climate Change was published on October 26. [Other CARICOM Leaders spoke on day 2.]

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness

CARICOM Heads, in their statements, made it clear that their contribution to carbon emissions is less than 1%. Yet, they are facing catastrophic damage to their countries and economies, with their very survival at risk. They pointed out that the funding for loss, damage and adaptation is inadequate and subject to conditionalities.  Heads called for financing that is predictable, more cohesive and accessible. For the CARICOM countries and other SIDS, funding should take account of their vulnerabilities and be without conditionalities. CARICOM wants to see all countries, especially the major industrialized, improve their mitigation targets to ensure that they are met as scheduled between 2030 to 2050. They will be playing their part. Collective action is needed to arrest climate change, requiring responsible leadership and statesmanship. This is reparatory justice which we need.

CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Gaston Brown of Antigua and Barbuda with his British counterpart Boris Johnson

We have also heard from religious leaders on climate change; Pope Francis, leader of the world’s Roman Catholics, a longstanding climate campaigner, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, leader of the Anglicans. The stewardship over the earth, this human habitat, given by God in the Bible to mankind did not intend its destruction and consequently that of humanity. Addressing climate change requires all hands on deck demanding action. Leadership is required from all sectors of society and at all levels.

Youth are in Glasgow making their voices heard very loudly as they and their children will inherit this earth, in whatever state it is left.

It cannot be enough to make grand announcements at COP26. Thereafter, there has to be action – the implementation – as many of our leaders are known for their inaction after the pomp and ceremony, the speeches, and the publication of the agreements, declarations and communiques.

[Note: On Climate Change, CARICOM also collaborates with the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), which issued a joint statement with the European Union (EU) on October 13 in advance of COP26, and with the Commonwealth, which has a pavilion at the COP26 conference centre.]

Submitted by Elizabeth Morgan, Specialist in International Trade Policy and International Politics

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: