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Movement made on climate concerns

by Randy Bennett
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Following her impassioned pleas at the COP26 Summit for climate change to be taken seriously, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said there has been some progress.

However, she conceded that there was still some way to go before all of the major countries were on board.

Speaking at the opening of the conference in Glasgow, Scotland on Monday and in a subsequent interview with CNN’s Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour, Mottley chided the larger and more powerful countries for not stepping up to the plate and taking decisive action in response to the climate crisis.

“I think we are beginning to see some movement on the needle. The question is that we are seeing the movement but I’m not yet sure that it is enough movement and that is why we feel in our diplomatic discussions both publicly and privately that now is not the time to lift the foot from the accelerator and that there is a moment in time that we need to be able to close the deal.

“Can we close the deal as we best wanted which is to keep within 1.5 [degrees], not sure, but we are trying. But can we close the deal on making sure that we have the framework to be able to adapt so that we don’t have to deal with climate refugees. Remember Monserrat used to have nuff people, two-thirds of the people who lived on Monserrat no longer live there. Remember Barbuda had a good set of people before Hurricane Maria. A lot of people have not relocated back to Barbuda or to Dominica,” Mottley pointed out.

“So in short answer, it’s very much still a work in progress. I know that the UN Secretary-General believes as do others that we will have to continue to monitor this even after COP26 and that certainly there has to be a major stocktaking by 2023.”

In pointing out some of the strides that had been made at COP26, Mottley said adaptation financing was now at 40 per cent, up from the 25 per cent she reported during her opening address and below the 50 per cent threshold that was required.

The Prime Minister said it was necessary for the voices of small island developing states (SIDS) to be heard at such events because it was virtually impossible to access technical and financial resources on their own.

Mottley pointed to several initiatives which Government was looking at undertaking in order to increase Barbados’ resistance to climate change. These included the renegotiation of the planned desalination plants in the north of the island to help address water woes; the continued attention to clearing drains and preventing flooding; moving towards electric vehicles and the possibility of implementing windfarms.

She said the issue regarding the desalination plants was a major one that needed to be urgently addressed.

“We have to deal with the whole question of saltwater incursion into our wells and if that happens where are we going to get our freshwater from? The last government negotiated two desal plants. We’ve started the process of saying, ‘look we want the plants’ but we believe that the volume that the last government asked for at six million gallons is way beyond what we can take now and what we need now, and therefore we will need to renegotiate both quantum as well as pricing because we believe the pricing was excessive and we believe also that the quantum – which therefore meant that we would pay more because it is a take or pay contract that the last government negotiated – [it] means that whether you use it or not, you pay for everything from day one,” Mottley explained.

“What it means is that we need to be able to protect our access to safe, drinking, potable water whether that comes from groundwater sources or whether that comes as a result of desalination.” (RB)

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