‘Under siege’

Prime Minister Mia Mottley on Monday called on world leaders to take firm and decisive action to tackle climate change as a global summit, considered a make-or-break chance to save the planet from catastrophe, began.

Mottley addressed political will and financing for climate change adaptation in a speech to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26.

The summit aims to keep alive a target of capping global warming at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels – the limit scientists say would avoid its most destructive consequences.

The Prime Minister told the gathering: “When will we as world leaders across the world address the pressing issues that are truly causing our people angst and worry, whether it is climate or whether it is vaccines? Simply put, when will leaders lead? “Our people are watching and our people are taking note and are we really going to leave Scotland without the resolve and the ambition that is sorely needed to save lives and to save our planet? How many more voices and how many more pictures of people must we see on these screens without being able to move or are we so blinded and hardened that we can no longer appreciate the cries of humanity.

“I have been saying to Barbadians for many years that many hands make light work. Today we need the correct mix of PG voices, ambition, and action.

“Do some leaders in this world believe that they can survive and thrive on their own? Have they not learned from the pandemic? Can there be peace and prosperity in one-third of the world that literally prospers and the other two-thirds of the world live under siege and face calamitous threats to their well-being? “What the world needs now is that which is within the ambit of fewer than 200 persons who are willing and prepared to lead.

Leaders must not fail those who elect them to lead.”

Mottley described the current financial models for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as “immoral and unjust.”

She said adaptation finance was currently at 25 per cent and not the 50-50 split that was desperately needed.

To make matters worse, she said, climate finance to frontline SIDS declined by 25 per cent in 2019.

She suggested a substantial increase in the Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to even the scales.

“There is a sword that can cut down this Gordian knot and it has been wielded before,” she said.

“The central banks of the wealthiest countries engaged in 25 trillion dollars of quantitative easing in the last 13 years and of that, $9 trillion was in the last 18 months to fight the pandemic.

“Had we used that $25 trillion to purchase bonds to finance the energy transition, or the transition of how we eat, or how we move in transport, we would now today be reaching that 1.5 degrees limit that is so vital to us.

“I say to you today in Glasgow with an annual increase in SDRs of $500 billion a year for 20 years, put in a Trust to finance the transition is the real gap we need to close, not the $50 billion being proposed for adaptation. And if $500 billion sounds big to you, it is just two per cent of that $25 trillion.

This is the sword we need to wield.”


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