The wider Caribbean must push harder to lobby the world’s major polluters to mitigate against further destruction from climate change, Barbados’ Ambassador to two regional blocs, David Comissiong, has urged.
Climate change is likely to be harmful globally than previous predictions have shown, putting the Caribbean and Central and South America directly within the firing line, the envoy to the Association of Caribbean States told a meeting to mark its 25th anniversary.
The Port of Spain-based organisation includes the nations bordering the Caribbean Sea In Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ambassador Comissiong, who is also the CARICOM ambassador, cited a study published in the Washington Post over the past week on the damage that climate change is likely to cause between 2050 and 2100.
He said: “A new study by Climate Central, a United States-based non-profit organisation that reports on climate science and does research on climate change, discovered that 110 million people worldwide now live below high tide level, and even under a scenario of modest climate change, which predicts a two-degree rise in temperatures, this number can rise to 150 million by 2050, and 200 million by 2100.
“These figures are three times higher than the original estimates, since a new measuring technique was used that combined laser-based coastal measurements with the system derived from data on coastal elevations from radar missions carried out by the space shuttle Endeavour in 2000.
“The article went on to state that if global temperatures rise any higher, “and key instabilities ‘kick in’ in Antarctica, 480 million people will be affected by annual floods and other such events by 2100.”
In a bid to fight climate change, Ambassador Comissiong outlined the suggestions Prime Minister Mia Mottley made in recent speeches.
He said: “We must let the industrialised world know that anything more than a 1.5 degree increase in global temperature is unacceptable, and the goal of a two degree increase must be taken off the radar completely.
“There must also be a global commitment to no new coal-powered electricity generating plants after 2020, and developed countries must abandon development assistance rules focusing on Gross Domestic Product as a determinant on how countries get financing especially in the wake of natural disasters when they need to rebuild.”
The Ambassador to ACS described climate change, economic blacklisting and the inability to access funding after natural disasters as merely modern examples of the exploitation its member states have faced since the European nations introduced colonial rule over 500 years ago.
Ambassador Comissiong told the regional body: “Climate change is not a singular threat that exists in a vacuum, nor did it simply emerge without any roots or chain of causation.
“The activities, practices, and attitudes that produced both global warming and the callous disregard for the threat it poses to developing nations are products of a system of international economic exploitation that has its roots in the centuries-long processes of colonisation, native genocide, slavery, capitalist acquisition and imperialism that were perfected in our region of the greater Caribbean.”
But despite this past, he said he was pleased to see the stance CARICOM was taking on the world stage within the past year, and he urged other ACS member countries to follow suit.
He declared: “I have seen evolving a collective CARICOM foreign policy based on the principles of peace, reparatory justice and sustainable development.
“Just listen to the speeches at the recent 74th session of the United Nations.
“Prime Minister Mottley’s speech was one of the great Caribbean speeches of all time, and Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua, along with Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, all showed that among our CARICOM members, there is a new assertiveness, searching for justice and equity in the world, and respecting the value of peace.
“ACS members have a common history, but we have shown our resilience and determination in the midst of it all, and we have an important mission to ensure our voices are heard in the battle to mitigate the consequences of climate change.” (DH)