Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Gaston Browne, is confident nations being negatively affected by climate change will soon receive funding from those who are major emitters.
Browne expressed optimism as he spoke to Guardian Media in a one-on-one interview at the COP27 conference currently taking place in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Over the weekend, Browne enjoyed a major victory as nations at the United Nations conference agreed to put loss and damage funding on its agenda for this year’s event. It wasn’t before stressful preliminary talks, which would ultimately see the opening plenary session delayed for hours, with negotiators unable to agree on whether to put it on the agenda.
It’s an agenda item developed countries have long kept on the back burner but it was a major win for small island and developing states at the start of this summit.
Browne has now set his sights on furthering the agenda though he is wary it may not happen at COP27.
He said,“I have no doubt that it will happen. It is just a matter of time. It took us 30 years to get it on the agenda – it maybe a baby step but it’s a step. What we have to do now is be unrelenting in our quest to ensure that the financing is established, that it is operationalised by possibly 2024 because it’s a very important fund from the standpoint of climate justice. It is an important fund to create equity in the system, and at the same time if polluters understand if you continue to burn fossil fuels there are consequences that you have to provide some type of compensation.”
Browne and his colleagues will be hoping that such action would serve as a “disincentive” to major polluters across the planet. He also feels it can accelerate the planet’s transition to renewable sources of energy.
However, some members within his own community in the Caribbean may come under the radar if such action happens.
According to the World Bank’s Global Carbon Project 2019, the latest figures for carbon dioxide emissions put T&T in second place worldwide. Eyes will also be on the region’s newest oil producer, Guyana, and Suriname, which has been in the business for some time now.
When asked if this will produce friction within the Caribbean Community, Browne said, “We do not see the issue of loss and damage addressing the issue of reparations. For us, it’s about dealing with current damage and not to make the fund look retroactive to deal with past transgressions.”
Browne added that small island and developing states can no longer foot the bill of a recovery to a disaster they did not contribute to.
“The issue of the loss and damage initiative that came out of the issue of having some form of climate justice is also an acknowledgement that within small island developing sates (SIDs) we do not have the means in order to transition quickly and we need to more funding mechanisms so that more funds can be made available to assist SIDs with their recovery in the aftermath of disaster and at the same time to provide adaptation funding.”
Not long after this interview, Browne delivered remarks to the media outside of the plenary where he had made a statement as negotiations on loss and damage funding took place.
He said he told negotiators the of loss and damage need not be a contentious issue. Instead, the prime minister said they are trying to get the consensus of all stakeholders including the global north and the global south, developing and developed countries.
This story was originally published on The Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, with the support of Climate Tracker’s COP27 Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship.