Small States Facing a Slide to Catastrophe

2015-1203-csn-uk-sanders-small-states-facing-slide-catastropheHere are excerpts of an opinion piece by Sir Ronald Sanders (for Caribseek News). He writes that the success of the current Climate Change conference in Paris for small states will be judged by only two criteria: the limiting of global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, and firm and binding commitments by the industrialized nations to provide financing for adaptation and mitigation without which small island developing states are in grave jeopardy.

At the time of writing, the prospects for such success are not encouraging. It would be a travesty if the representatives of small states were to join the expected chorus of governments of industrialised nations that are expected to declare the conference a success even if they fail to deliver on curbing carbon emissions and on financing.

A recent Oxfam report, “Extreme Carbon Inequality”, states that 50% of carbon emissions is attributable to the richest 10% of the people around the world.  The average footprint of the richest 1% of people globally, but mostly in the rich counties, could be “175 times that of the poorest 10%”.

Small countries now have to stand-up in their own interest, and the urgency of doing so is now.  There is no greater threat to the survival of all small island and developing states and the existence of many.   Nothing – no other single issue or collection of issues – is a bigger or nearer dagger to the heart of small islands’ lives than climate change.

As I write, developed countries’ negotiators continue to hold out against arguments from small and poor countries that any new agreement reached in Paris should commit to compensation for loss and damage caused by the impact of climate change.  In other words, despite the evidence that climate change is real and far-reaching and that it has created more intense hurricanes, drought and flooding, small countries are expected to pay for the cost of damage in addition to implementing adaptation and mitigation measures.  The attitude of the developed countries negotiators could not be more unjust.

To be fair to the leaders of the 28-nation European Union (EU), they have persistently committed to making the cutting of emissions legally binding.  But they too have been parsimonious on the provision of compensation caused by their own carbon emissions.   It should be recalled that the small islands of the Caribbean and Pacific contribute less than 0.1% of carbon emissions but are the greatest victims. [. . .]

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