Mia Amor Mottley

(flashback)‘Try harder ‘: Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley speaks during yesterday’s opening ceremony of the COP26 UN Climate Summit, in Glasgow, Scotland.

—Photo: AP

Address by Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados at yesterday’s opening ceremony of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

THE pandemic has taught us that national solutions to global problems do not work.

We come to Glasgow with global ambition to save our people and to save our planet but we now find three gaps:

ON MITIGATION, climate pledges or NDCs—without more we will leave the world on a pathway to 2.7 degrees and with more we are still likely to get to 2 degrees.

These commitments made by some are based on technologies yet to be developed and this is at best reckless and at worst dangerous.

ON FINANCE—we are US$20 billion short of the US$100 billion and this commitment even then might only be met in 2023.

ON ADAPTATION- adaptation finance remains only at 25 per cent —not the 50:50 split that was promised or needed given the warming that is already taking place on this earth. Climate finance to frontline Small Island Developing States declined by 25 per cent in 2019. Failure to provide the critical finance and that of loss and damage is measured, my friends, in lives and livelihoods in our communities. This is immoral and it is unjust.

If Glasgow is to deliver on the promises of Paris, it must close these three gaps.

So I ask you—what must we say to our people living on the frontline in the Caribbean, in Africa, in Latin America, in the Pacific, when both ambition and regrettably, some of the needed faces at Glasgow, are not present?

What excuse should we give for their failure? In the words of that Caribbean icon Eddy Grant, “will they mourn us on the frontline?”

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 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 ambition that are sorely needed to save lives and to save our planet? How many 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, many hands make light work. Today we need the correct mix of voices, ambition and action.

Do some leaders in this world believe they can survive and thrive on their own? Have they not learned from the pandemic?

Can there be peace and prosperity if one-third of the world literally prospers and the other two-thirds of the world live under siege and face calamitous threats to our well-being?

What the world needs now, my friends, is within the ambit of less than 200 persons who are willing and prepared to lead!! Leaders must not fail those who elect them to lead.

And I say to you there’s a sword that can cut down this Gordian knot and it has been wielded before.

The Central Banks of the wealthiest countries engaged in US$25 trillion of quantitative easing in the last 13 years—US$25 trillion! Of that, US$9 trillion was in the last 18 months to fight the pandemic. Had we used that US$25 trillion to purchase bonds to finance the energy transition or the transition from how we eat or how we move ourselves 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 that an annual increase in SDRs of US$500 billion a year for 20 years put in a trust to finance the transition is the real gap, SG (Secretary General), that we need to close, not the US$50 billion being proposed for adaptation.

If US$500 billion sounds big to you, guess what? It is just two per cent of the US$25 trillion. This is the sword we need to wield.

Our excitement one hour into this event is far less than it was six months ago leading up to this event. Can we, with those voices and these speeches by Sir David (Attenborough) and others, find it within ourselves to get the resolve to bring Glasgow back on track, or do we leave today believing that it was a failure before it starts?

Our world, my friends, stands at a fork in the road, one no less significant than when the United Nations was formed in 1945. But then, the majority of our countries here did not exist. We exist now. The difference is we want to exist 100 years from now. And if our existence is to mean anything then we must act in the interest of all of our people who are depending on us. And if we don’t, we will allow the path of greed and selfishness to sow the seeds of our common destruction.

The leaders of today, not 2030, not 2050, must make this choice.

It is in our hands. And our people and our planet need it more than ever.

We can work with who is ready to go because the train is ready to leave. And those who are not yet ready, we need to continue to ring-circle and we to remind them that their people, not our people, but their citizens need them to get on board as soon as possible.

Code red, code red to the G7 countries; code red, code red to the G20. Earth to COP? That’s what it said? Earth to COP? For those who have eyes to see, for those who have ears to listen, and for those who have a heart to feel, 1.5 is what we need to survive. Two degrees, yes SG, is a death sentence for the people of Antigua and Barbuda, for the people of the Maldives, for the people of Dominica and Fiji, for the people of Kenya and Mozambique and yes, for the people of Samoa and Barbados.

We do not want that dreaded death sentence and we’ve come here today to say “try harder, try harder” because our people, the climate army, the world, the planet need our actions now, not next year, not in the next decade.

Thank you.

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