PM urges swift action to finalise fund to help developing countries mitigate effects of climate change

Source: Barbados Today
December 8, 2022
Prime Minister Mia Mottley is calling out international companies that are making a fortune in business ventures that significantly degrade the environment.

And as she reiterated her call for them to use some of their profits to help developing nations implement climate change mitigation measures, she called for swift action to finalise the details of a Loss and Damage Fund agreed to at the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Mottley made the plea while delivering remarks at the 12th Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management, which was held via hybrid mode at the Savannah Beach Resort, Hastings, Christ Church, on Wednesday.

She said the Loss and Damage Fund should not only be capitalised by countries that contributed to the worst aspects of greenhouse warming but by companies whose conduct caused serious damage.

“It is unconscionable for oil companies to be earning $200 billion in profit in the last quarter of a year and people in Pakistan, in Mozambique and Belize and St Lucia and Trinidad [are being impacted by] floods. We talk about hurricanes because floods have no name but floods can be worse for some than a hurricane, particularly in countries that are vulnerable to landslides,” Prime Minister Mottley told those gathered virtually and in person.

At COP27 last month, it was agreed that a Loss and Damage Fund would be established to help developing countries bear the immediate costs of climate-fuelled events such as storms and floods. However, several issues, including which countries will contribute to the fund, are to be addressed when a transitional committee makes recommendations for countries to adopt at the COP28 climate summit in November 2023.

Prime Minister Mottley said on Wednesday that it was time to make haste to put things in place to ensure funding is realised.

“The world has made promises to the most vulnerable states and, regrettably, those promises have become a little too long in our wait for them to be delivered . . . . But it is a good thing that at Sharm el-Sheikh we eventually saw the agreement to establish the Loss and Damage Fund. But that, like the promise of US$100 billion in adaptation, is nothing more than a promissory note. And it is up to us now to ensure that we, with dispatch, create the structures to determine how best that fund should be structured, how it should be funded, and who should benefit from it,” she said.

“…. This is no longer a matter only for small island developing states because effectively all of the countries between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are now on the frontline because of the world’s failure to act with dispatch, and while small island developing states are the canaries in the mine, the truth is that this is way beyond what we should reasonably have or where we should reasonably have been having we acted earlier.

“I really believe that it is important for us in the next 12 months, before we leave Dubai at COP28, to put all of these administrative details behind us. If not, the consequences are likely to be far worse,” Mottley added.

She charged that international oil and gas companies made a mess of the environment when accidents at their facilities occurred, and she was appalled by the disposition of some owners of those companies.

“It is unbelievable that oil and gas companies would not appreciate that it is in their interest to fix leaks…. Regrettably, there are still far too many leaks contributing to global warming, and with respect to the question of waste and livestock, there are alternatives that we need to be able to treat, to contain the volume of methane gases contributing to global warming,” she added.

The Prime Minister was adamant that small island states and regional disaster institutions must call on international conglomerates to pay for their part in causing the damage.

“We have to be able to take action as governments, and CDEMA [Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency] has to do advocacy to encourage governments and the international private sector to step up to the plate. There is no amount of aid that is going to be able to supplement the needs of a country in fighting of a major disaster.

“. . . . There is no country, no company and I doubt any human being – although some have the capacity to – in this world that will give us the equivalent of 18 per cent of GDP [gross domestic product] should a disaster happen,” Mottley said.

Noting the absence of natural disaster clauses in financial instruments utilised by small economies, the Prime Minister pointed out that her administration had created “blue bonds” and a pandemic clause which, in the event of a large-scale disaster, could see Government immediately suspending debt repayments and redirecting that money to disaster relief efforts.

She added these clauses were also important because of the underinsurance challenges faced by countries in the region.

“…. The cost of insurance … has so outpaced the capacity of companies and individuals to pay that there is, regrettably, too high a percentage of underinsurance in this region and it is going to have wider implications for economic growth because if you cannot afford the insurance it constrains your capacity to access bank financing for your businesses,” Mottley pointed out.

“. . . Therefore, it is in our interest to ensure that in this Caribbean Community, at the very least, there is an appreciation that much of what has been missing in terms of official development assistance and what is missing in terms of adaptation funds can only be compounded by the absence of natural disaster clauses in our financial instruments. There . . . must be a concerted effort to create the inclusion of natural disaster clauses in our financial instruments in the Caribbean Community as a basic foundational principle,” the Prime Minister added.

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