Barbados would be able to rebuild at no cost to taxpayers if devastated by any major natural disaster thanks to an historic multi-billion-dollar climate crisis deal that’s expected to take effect in 2024.
Though the quantum is still to be agreed, the fund is expected to move closer to establishment over the coming year when a transition team meets to work out the “nuts and bolts” of the funding and its sources and make recommendations that will get it up and running in 2024
Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s Special Envoy for Climate Finance Professor Avinash Persaud revealed this on Monday following the brokering of an agreement on Sunday at the COP27 United Nations Climate Summit in Egypt. Professor Persaud said while Barbados had been suggesting the establishment of a climate fund of between US$50 billion and US$100 billion, the transition committee will make the final determination.
“The plan that was agreed in Sharm el-Sheikh was that the transition committee would be established. It would have a number of meetings designed to define the source of the revenue, the actual mechanisms as to how it will be distributed. It will make recommendations for next year’s conference of parties which is going to be held in Dubai around December.
“It is hoped that at that conference they will then establish those recommendations and the fund would probably be in existence by the following talks. So we are looking like 2024,” the finance consultant revealed during an interview with Barbados TODAY.
He said the payouts to vulnerable small developing states such as Barbados would be in the form of grants designed to reconstruct countries that can’t do it themselves.
“It’s the first time that it’s really been recognised that there needs to be international funding for countries that suffered a climatic event that has created loss or damage. That’s what was announced. A very strict timeline was also established. People are also so cynical about international agreements.
“The timeline was as important during the negotiations as the agreement to establish. There is an international agreement to establish a fund to provide support, grant-like support to developing countries, particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of the climate,” he confirmed.
“We need to have a fund that has billions of dollars in it to deal with these losses and damages. The way it will work is that when an international agency has declared that a country, say Barbados, is experiencing a climate emergency – imagine a category 5 hurricane comes over and destroys a lot – then immediately a significant sum of money will be sent to deal with the reconstruction after this event,” Professor Persaud explained.
He pointed out that while people often focus on single events such as hurricanes, states like Barbados are suffering from “slow on-set events “ such as gradual annual sea-level bashing of the coastlines.
“This fund is also designed to address that, but they have to work at how they do that,” he added.
The PM’s Special Envoy also said that the amount of money that Barbados would receive in the aftermath of a national disaster would depend on the size of the emergency.
“It’s going to be available to any country that experiences a climatic event of significant proportion because the money would quickly run out if it is for every single storm. It is going to be the kind of thing that a country on its own cannot deal with.
“Imagine when Hurricane Maria went over Dominica…they lost about 200 per cent of their entire national income in four hours, or when Dorian hovered over the Bahamas and they also had a significant loss, those kinds of things,” Professor Persaud explained.
He also noted that Hurricane Elsa which caused damage to many houses in Barbados was however not on the scale that would attract support from the climate fund.
“We would probably have got some support for that but not the kind of support that this fund was really designed for, countries which would find it impossible to rebuild from their own resources,” he stressed.
Professor Persaud also disclosed that Barbados would benefit from a last-minute inclusion in the agreement of support for natural gas, a fossil fuel. He said there were some who believed that all fossil fuels should be abandoned.
“Of course, our region, Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, and Barbados next has and may have more natural gas. So that clause is not bad for us. There is a recognition that there is a balancing act. We have said, for example, were we to find oil and gas offshore that we would focus on the gas which is a low-emission fuel, rather than oil, which is a high-emission fuel,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator (CCSA) Racquel Moses who represented the interests of SIDS and the Caribbean at 28 global civil society panels and events, as well as several meetings with key stakeholders at COP27, weighed in on the outcome.
“The Accelerator advocated for Loss and Damage (L&D) funding for climate-vulnerable countries, especially those in the region. Our organisation is very happy to note several positive outcomes through the agreement negotiated by diplomats in this area,” Moses said.
She identified one of these areas as loss and damage being added to the conference agenda for the first time and the subsequent development and operationalization of the Santiago Network for Loss & Damage (SNLD), which provides the technical framework and pathway to deliver L&D.
She is also pleased with the final consensus on the creation of an L&D fund and having a set timetable for the finalisation of the full framework to be effected through COP28.
“Our hope is that this facility focuses on building capacity in the global south by being housed near to where it is most necessary,” the climate activist stated.
Moses also welcomed the creation of the Global Shield by Germany and the G7, a separate financial mechanism that will be used as disaster relief aimed at strengthening social protection schemes and providing some climate risk insurance.
However, the spokesperson for the region on resilience-building noted there were some disappointments at COP.
“The final text of the Sharm el-Sheikh Accord is lacking strong language or resolutions on reducing the use of fossil fuels. Net-zero pledges and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) must be strengthened to meet decarbonization goals that support limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. Natural gas is not a realistic ‘bridging’ fuel,” she contended.