What’s The Caribbean Response to the Legacy of COP 26 in Glasgow
Global Frontier Advisory and Development Services
In presenting the outcome document from COP26, Alok Sharma, President of the Conference pronounced “We kept 1.5 degrees alive but its pulse is weak. This is the moment of Truth for the planet”. John Kerry softened the embarrassing disappointment by saying “Glasgow was not the finishing line and was never going to be. Nations will still have much more to do on their emissions cutting goals to ensure the 1.5 limit” The truth for the Planet is that the majority of the 20 largest countries contribute to 80 percent of the global emissions . Consequently, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that if all the current long term commitments were fully followed through the world would limit heating to 1.8 degrees in the long term. However the gap between the long term ambitions and countries’ crucial short term targets for 2030 would result in heating of 2.4C.
This is far removed from the six key demands put forward by Small Island Development States (SIDS) and Climate Justice advocates. As Hon. Gaston Brown, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and chair of both SIDS and the CARICOM Community puts it: these six key demands for World Leaders that, if met, should ensure our nations are not entirely submerged by rising sea levels. They include:
- Decarbonise by rapidly phasing out fossil fuel extraction and ending subsidies.
- Commit to climate finance for small island states to mitigate and adapt.
- Ensure international institutions push harder for cooperation.
- Cancel developing countries debt so they can deal with the impacts of climate change.
- Implement a climate damages tax to make corporations compensate countries for climate related damage.
- Commit to limit global heating by 1.5°C.
As Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley so emphatically and persausively pronounced at the opening plenary : ‘1.5°C is what we need to survive, 2°C is a death sentence… We do not want that dreaded death sentence, and we’ve come here to say, try harder.’
In the final analysis, not one of these key demands by SIDS was met in its entirety. While pondering the discussions on the mixed results of Glasgow, few may recall that “1.5 degrees to stay alive” was the clarion call of the Caribbean at COP15 in Copenhagen, 2009 based on research by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. More immediate however, are the implications for the Caribbean of two interrelated concerns: (a) Is CARICOM paying heed to the results of related research from our Universities and Scientists? Are our Universities maximizing the benefits of a collaborative approach to public education and dissemination of their research findings?
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