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#BTEditorial – The Last Chance Saloon opens in Glasgow on Sunday

by Barbados Today
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The sobering UN Emissions Gas Report released on Tuesday reinforces the urgency for small island development states (SIDS) like Barbados to vigorously defend their very survival when world leaders meet at the Conference of Parties – COP-26 in Glasgow, Scotland from Sunday.

The annual UN Environment Programme report which details commitments by the world’s most powerful nations, the Group of 20, to cut carbon emissions has no good news for SIDS who are on the frontline of climate change.

Our lobby for “1.5 to stay alive” fell on seemingly deaf ears.

According to the report, the national plans of those who have long produced massive greenhouse gas pollution fuelling the earth’s warming have fallen woefully short of what’s needed to avert dangerous climate change.

Pledges by countries to keep the global temperature rise under 1.5 degrees Celsius this century will fail and according to UNEP, the world is on course to warm around 2.7C with hugely destructive impacts.

The UNEP report estimates that “new commitments from about 120 nations, as of the end of September, could result in a 7.5 per cent cut to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 if fully implemented.

“But emissions would actually need to fall about seven times that fast to hit the more lofty goal of the Paris agreement — limiting Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.”

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres who was recently in Bridgetown to get a first-hand look at the impact of climate change here said it best:

“As world leaders prepare for COP26, this report is another thundering wake-up call. How many do we need? “Scientists are clear on the facts. Now leaders need to be just as clear in their actions. They need to come to Glasgow with bold, time-bound, frontloaded plans to reach net-zero.”

He told the launch the report highlights the failures of political leaders.

“The emissions gap is the result of a leadership gap,” he said. “But leaders can still make this a turning point to a greener future instead of a tipping point to climate catastrophe.”

And what does all of this mean for us? Climate change is not a hoax or the wild imaginings of a few.

For Barbados, the Caribbean and other SIDS, this could translate into more of what we are already experiencing: more scorching hot days, droughts, flooding, massive hurricanes, the likes of Hurricane Maria, Irma and Dorian, freak weather phenomena, beach erosion, coral bleaching, sea level rise and more.

Despite our low carbon footprint, we are the ones forced to weather the actions of others who continue to act as if climate change is centuries off and we don’t matter.

And even in the face of their misdeeds, they remain reluctant to at least compensate by helping SIDS to mitigate the damage of this existential crisis, costs that run into the billions.

At the September UN general assembly, Prime Minister Mia Mottley highlighted the inequality of the climate crisis and the resources available to resolve it. “$100 billion is not enough,” she said, referring to developing countries’ pledges to annually provide money to poorer countries to help them manage the effects of global warming. “If we do not control this fire, it will burn us all down.”

This week’s summit is described as the “last best chance” for world leaders to exercise the will and commit the resources to tackle climate change.
For small island developing states it is the Last Chance Saloon.

Adapting to the realities of climate change will be no doubt intensive and costly. But the risk of delay and worst, inaction, will endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions. All of us stand to lose unless we muscle the collective will.

And in the words of PM Mottley: “If we can find the will to send people to the moon and solve male baldness, we can solve simple problems like letting our people eat.”

Add to that, letting people live on a safe planet.

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