‘TRY HARDER”, BARBADOS PM MIA MOTTLEY URGES WORLD LEADERS AT COP26
06 November 2021
‘TRY HARDER’: KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM COP 26, MIA MOTTLEY’S SPEECH
One of the key takeaways from the COP26 summit undergoing in Glasgow is not the solid actions and promises being made by world leaders but the discussions being enabled through such a massive international conference. Not many countries responsible for the growing temperatures in the world today have made any serious commitments other than vague promises, which is exactly what Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, the lone Caribbean island, said in her address at the summit.
Prime Minister Mottley who is the first female to hold the office of the prime minister in Barbados who is a social democrat and has been vocal about climate change since her speech at the United Nations General Assembly in 2019, which was held in New york. Barbados, an island country, is perhaps one of the most vulnerable to climate change due to rising sea levels and dying ocean life. A country situated in hazardous geography, the island is also prone to storms and cyclones. Mottley’s rage in her speech though comes from home, reflects the equal agony that third world developing countries are facing. She highlighted that a 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures can be a ‘death sentence’ for the island and coastal communities. She said the many commitments made by major countries are based on ‘technology yet to be developed’, and called it ‘reckless’. The speech was strong enough to point out the hollow promises of countries in the global north that are actively participating in climate catastrophes, of which poor countries have to bear the burden. The recent floods, earthquakes, and rising sea levels in several poor countries like Haiti have proved how developing countries will not be able to stand alone in the fight against climate change. Mottley while speaking also pointed out that the $qoo billion promised by developed countries for financing poor countries has not been fully delivered, and the “climate finance promised to small island countries declined by 25% in 2019”.
“Failure to provide critical finance, and that of loss and damage is measured, my friends, with lives and livelihoods in our communities”, she stated while targeting the inaction from rich countries in such summits, and called “immoral and unjust”. The current uproar by civil societies, student groups and activist organizations closely observing the statements made in the COP26 summit shows a hopeful era of change from within societies, but this is not possible when states have completely disregarded the aspect of financial capital desperately needed in such endeavors. The US, Canada, India, Japan among other big economies are known to save a large percentage of their annual budgets on the military ignoring alarming climate disasters knocking at our doorsteps. This phenomenon of war economies is not new but has escalated with utmost ignorant excuses. “When will leaders lead”, she asked saying that people are ‘watching and taking notes’ of the governments’ promises and whether actions are being implemented on the ground or not. Mia Mottley’s knifed at the last one and half years of the Covid-19 pandemic asking how could leaders think ‘they can survive and thrive on their own’, lashing out at the audiences asking ‘have they not learned from the pandemic’. “If our existence is to mean anything, then we must act in the interest of all of our people who are dependent on us,” Mottley stated, adding, “and if we don’t, we will allow the path of greed and selfishness to sow the seeds of our common destruction”. World leaders including US President Joe Biden were listening to the speech that has now gone viral on social media.
In her speech she also targeted central banks of wealthy countries that only allowed a total of $9 trillion as relief allowance for the pandemic, while $25 trillion was for quantitative easing in the 13 years. She said if the money had been used for financing renewable energy, food consumption, and transport, we’d reach the 1.5-degree Celsius limit by now. Climate activists have pointed out for the past few weeks that the COP26 has failed to address the solid changes being demanded by a world that is on the verge of a climate catastrophe. As mentioned earlier, big economies like the United States, European Union and India have only given deadlines and vague policy models in the future that was not the momentum that climate warriors expected from this year’s summit.
“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,” said Prime Minister Mottley while ending her address on the world stage.
Akmal Ahmed is a final year student of Masters in Sociology at the University of Hyderabad. He is interested in politics, human rights and education.
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