DUBAI, UAE –3rd December 2023…Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne, a staunch advocate for solutions to combat many of the issues confronting small island states, made a fervent appeal for the world to unify as fears intensify about the climate crisis.
Prime Minister Browne was at the time addressing Saturday’s plenary of COP28 now taking place in Dubai where he joined a list of global leaders in sharing their country’s position on the various remedies being considered to reduce the worsening impact of climate change.
But progress, he noted, is lagging and ambition is still well off from the mitigation and adaptation measures that island nations urgently require in driving positive action on the climate front.
“…climate change is fast outpacing the incremental progress we have made since Paris, with potential catastrophic consequences if we overshoot the 1.5 degrees threshold,” Prime Minister Browne told the meeting.
“The irony is, that small island states that contribute the least to global CO2 emissions – a mere 0.5 percent are its greatest victims,” he declared. It’s a cry that rings with familiarity as the Antigua and Barbuda leader has remained constant in his appeal for the industrialised world to scale up their ambitions so vulnerable countries can build the necessary resilience to recover from climate impacts.
Forthright and fearless, he told the summit: “The future weapons of mass destruction will not be bombs or guns; they will be scorching temperatures, persistent droughts, rising tides and ferocious winds.”
“Despite these dire potential consequences to all of humanity; the protection of the fossil fuel industry continues to be a priority in the pursuit of extortionate profits, at the expense of all of humanity, especially people in climate vulnerable countries,” Prime Minister Browne contended in an overt swipe at the industrialised world.
“Is it fair and just, that powerful countries could profiteer from the irresponsible and profligate use of fossil fuels at the expense of the obliteration of vulnerable countries? Is it fair?” he asked.
Prime Minister Browne used the opportunity to press home an appeal for the adoption of the Multidimensional Vulnerabiltity Index so as to increase access by island nations to the financing they need in times of disaster.
He repeated his call for the introduction of a carbon tax and welcomed the proposal by France & Kenya to establish a global tax on green-house gas emissions to scale up climate funding.
“In addition, we support the call for a Fossil Fuel non-proliferation treaty to build momentum to curbing the use of fossil fuels and to accelerate the transition to renewables” he added.
The Global Stocktake is a major undertaking at this year’s COP as it measures the effort by countries to meet their goals in helping to reduce the impact of climate change and keep within the 1.5 warming limit.
The science shows that an overshoot of the 1.5 degree warming threshold will spell untold disaster for small vulnerable island nations like Antigua and Barbuda.
The GST, Prime Minister Browne noted, should reaffirm the commitments to a “1.5 degrees pathway for a just, equitable and accelerated transition, the Capitalization and Operationalisation of the Loss & Damage fund and the Provision of adequate transformational finance for a 1.5 degrees agenda and interim adaptation and mitigation funding.”
Accompanying Prime Minister Browne to the plenary was Minister of Health and the Environment Sir Molwyn Joseph, Antigua and Barbuda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Walton Webson, Deputy Permanent Representative Tumasie Blair and First Secretary at the Antigua and Barbuda Mission Claxton Duberry.