It is the combination of power, defiance, intelligence and compassion that made the prime minister of the world’s newest republic, Mia love mottley, a lightning rod that highlighted the ineffectiveness of world leaders at COP26 to advance actions to combat the climate crisis.
On Tuesday, the United Nations Environment Program Announced Barbados’ prime minister was one of its 2021 Champions of the Earth, the world’s body’s most prestigious environmental honor. Mottley was recognized in the political leadership category for her “powerful voice for a sustainable world from the Global South, constantly warning about the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) due to the climate emergency.”
Rather than use the conference with his other hotheaded members of the state to deliver platitudes and soliloquies that reinforce the vanity of power, Mottley used his platform, reclaimed his time, and managed a scorching speech that cornered the intentions of the leaders of the Global North and reduced them to a selfish and rapacious irresponsibility.
And in that verbal disquisition about the inequities of the disproportionate impacts that are borne in Small Island Developing States, championed advocacy for climate activists, progressive allies, anti-racists, and intersectional feminists alike.
Hold the sugar and its topping.
SIDS are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and they have been quite eloquent in their advocacy to pressure the Global North to achieve more aggressive climate goals.
As Athaulla Rasheed explained in the journal, International Studies: “SIDS have been in the UN climate negotiations since the 1980s, committed to a climate agenda with clear ideas about the challenges they face and the kind of solutions they seek from the international political community.”
Mottley’s contribution to this story is to advocate for the need for funding for SIDS to address the impacts of climate change on their economies and societies. The policy prescription would establish a funding mechanism to help vulnerable states respond to the impact of climate change on their nations. In addition to the United States and the European Union, Canada is against it.
As Steven Guilbeault, our new Minister of the Environment, said: “I don’t think we are at the stage where we are talking about the creation of a new financing mechanism.” Maybe it’s because Canada has only contributed 17% of contributions (in 2017) committed to the $ 100 million climate finance target “Addressing the needs of developing countries” as part of the Paris Agreement.
Opinion: Small island developing states like Barbados are vulnerable to the effects of climate change and have spoken out to propel the global North towards more aggressive climate goals, writes Erica Ifill. @wickdchiq # COP26
In other words, Canada is rallying the countries that need help the most, calling into question our commitment to ensuring that these states survive for the next decade. Black and brown lives are at stake, which means Canada is not interested.
Instead, rich countries offered crumbs from Massa’s table in the form of technical assistance, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to keeping SIDS economically dependent on exploitative international assistance models through climate colonialism.
Call them climate fixes, as the inequities of global climate change are demonstrated by the reality that it is the Global North that created the problem while the Global South suffers its consequences.
Like the apartheid vaccine, the North continues to strangle the South as the latter must grapple with the attempt to reduce poverty levels, reduce staggering debt (Barbados entered selective default in 2018) while facing a climate crisis that further erodes their economic capabilities.
“Privileged lifestyles in Europe, North America, and other nations of the global North produce a carbon footprint 100 times that of the world’s poor nations combined.” indicated Euronews in short an Oxfam report.
An article in Scientific reports this course clarifies: “Countries export much of the damage created by their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because the Earth’s atmosphere is globally intermingled.”
His research found “a huge global inequality where 20 of the 36 countries with the highest emissions are among the least vulnerable to the negative impacts of future climate change. On the contrary, 11 of the 17 countries with low or moderate GHG emissions are highly vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change ”. Oxfam has advocated a similar redistribution model that Mottley and other SIDS support.
In his speech at COP26Mottley pointed to the dire and foreboding reality of catastrophe for nations most vulnerable to the climate emergency if climate finance targets were not met: “By then, it will be too late.”
If only Guilbeault and the Trudeau government had enough humanity to keep their performative promises.
Erica Ifill is an economist-turned-entrepreneur who founded her own communications agency, Not In My Color. She is also a co-founder and co-host of the Bad + Bitchy podcast and a columnist for The Hill Times.