Mia Mottley: Caribbean may face climate change adaptation in 12-20 years

Mia Mottley -
Mia Mottley -

BARBADOS Prime Minister Mia Mottley warned that the Caribbean could be left with no choice but to make major adaptations to the local effect of climate change if a positive outcome is not seen at the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 at Glasgow, Scotland at month-end.

Her warning came in her meeting with US Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday at the VP's office in Washington DC.

The 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties known as COP 26 will ask countries to update their plans for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Many commentators lament insufficient progress towards a limit of a 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperature above pre-industrial levels agreed in the Paris Agreement at COP21 in 2015.

If an agreement is not reached, global warming will leave countries no choice but to prepare to adapt as best they can to resultant fallout.

Mottley said, "We are aware as we go to Glasgow that there is a distinct risk, regrettably, that the world might not make the 1.5 degrees that we need to survive in the region.

"If that happens, then the conversation has to change seriously to be about adaptation. We have to adapt to that new reality which can literally be upon us anywhere from 12 to 20 years."

She lamented that the region has had to be constantly evolving, including responding to one-size-fits-all prescriptions such as the World Trade Organization which, she lamented, precluded Caricom from preferential treatment in trade, plus the present climate change crisis battle.

"Today we are on the frontline but, as you quite correctly said, we are not responsible for causing it. What is of lament is that the absence of an understanding of what is needed for adaptation is going to hurt us because time is of the essence now if the world passes 1.5 degrees."

Mottley told Harris she looked forward to building their relationship at a personal level. She said the Vice President was personally aware of the Caribbean's tradition of sending individuals to the US to work. Harris is of Caribbean ancestry, her father Donald J Harris having been born in Jamaica which he left to earn a PhD in Economics at the University of California (UC)-Berkeley, and later becoming a Professor of Economics at Stanford University.

Mottley hailed the work of the first black woman US congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (née St Hill, 1924 to 2005), an eminent Barbadian-American politician born in Brooklyn who vied for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 1972, losing the nomination to George Mc Govern, who himself lost the presidential election to Republican nominee Richard Nixon.

"I've said to you that Shirley Chisholm was a Barbadian. That she was the first black American congresswoman is something of which all Barbadians are proud. That she became the first African-American woman to run for a major political party's presidential nomination is something of which we are proud."

Mottley said people respected Chisholm's courage and her message calling for equality of opportunity and protection of the vulnerable.

"It is a philosophy that binds us still today.

"At a very personal level I know that both you and I have celebrated 'firsts' but in both cases we have said we have not come to be the first but to ensure we are not last."

Regarding the covid19 pandemic, Mottley called for vaccine equity saying that any inequity could lead to the rise of new variants by way of mutation in unvaccinated populations.

Harris said the US had donated one million doses of vaccine to the region and will give at least a further three million doses. She said the relationship between the US and Caricom and Barbados was important in both the short and long terms, as she advocated co-operation against covid19, climate change and security threats, while promoting prosperity.


"Mia Mottley: Caribbean may face climate change adaptation in 12-20 years"

More in this section