Antigua PM challenge sincerity of rich countries’ climate commitment

With the issue of climate change and its continually degrading effects on environmental, social and economic circumstances, particularly in poor countries, becoming an increasingly acrimonious item on the global climate agenda, Prime Minister of the tiny and climate vulnerable Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, has seized the opportunity afforded by his country’s presidency of the decade’s Summit for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), on Monday, to blast “empty” and “grossly inadequate” climate pledges, saying wealthy nations have failed to meet obligations to limit damages from carbon emissions.

Evidently recognizing the importance of what is usually the rarity of opportunities afforded tiny island states to secure a global stage on matters of particular importance, Browne used the opportunity afforded by the staging of the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States in the Antiguan capital, St. John’s from May 27th to 30th, to ‘trash’ climate pledges made by developed countries. Small island states in the Caribbean, the Pacific and the Atlantic that make negligible contributions to carbon emissions are, ironically, most vulnerable to the economic and environmental consequences of those emissions, not least, rising temperatures that are attended by natural disasters and consequential heavy reliance on rich countries on economic and other forms of support.

The Antiguan Prime Minister, who currently holds the presidency of this decade’s Summit for Small Island Developing States on Monday dismissed the climate financing pledges made by developed countries, asserting that these pledges have fallen short of meeting their stated undertakings. Browne is one of a sizeable list of Heads of Government of climate-vulnerable countries who have openly voiced their concern for what they regard as the limited commitment of rich countries to undertakings that can mitigate the effects of climate change in small, vulnerable countries. “It is not sufficient for nations to simply make empty and grossly inadequate commitments under the Paris Agreement,” the Antiguan Prime Minister is quoted as saying at the climate forum.

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