As the tug-of-war continues at the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) in Egypt, Grenadian Dr Spencer Thomas has offered a sobering assessment of where the region is at in terms of its fight for climate justice.
Thomas is the ambassador and special envoy for Multilateral Environmental Agreements in Grenada, and participated in a panel discussion at the SDG pavilion yesterday titled SIDs Perspective on Loss and Damage. Addressing the gathering, he said after 30 years of small islands clamouring for loss and damage funding to be made an agenda item, it cannot be another 30 years before implementation and action follow.
After the session, he told Guardian Media, “It is not a win to have it as an agenda item. This is just one part of it. We need to have significant progress taking place in the negotiations. What we have seen is we have an agenda item but have we made any progress? Have we moved on the Glasgow Climate Pact issues relating to loss and damage? The answer is no. Are we able to do that in the next couple of days? We have to be optimistic and we have to continue to articulate for our position on the issue of loss and damage.”
As Thomas spoke, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) was welcoming its new chairman from Samoa, Dr Fatumanava Pa’o Luteru.
Samoa takes the baton from Antigua and Barbuda, whose Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, served as chair of the alliance for the last two years. Samoa’s term as chair comes at a critical time, with loss and damage funding at the top of the global agenda at these climate talks.
Yesterday, the European Union’s climate chief, Frans Timmermans, announced the union will provide 60 million euros to the global shield to help countries affected by loss and damage from climate change.
Reacting to the change in leadership at the top of AOSIS and what it means for small island developing states, Dr Thomas explained, “I think the size of the task in the next two years depends on the decision that we take today and I think before the end of this COP we need to make significant and ambitious decisions on the issue of loss and damage. I don’t think we can fall short of having very significant ambition, mitigation and adaptation and finance on loss and damage at this COP.”
However, it remained uncertain up to yesterday whether there has been any real progress on the loss and damage front.
Still, Dr Thomas offered this perspective, “I think we are more or less walking backwards in the negotiations. I think we have had a platform set in Glasgow and the idea here was to build on that platform. What we are seeing here is a backsliding on that platform so I’m not confident that at the end of the day, we will be able to get to the point where we are hoping to which is necessary for the survival of our countries as we go forward.”
This story was originally published on the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, with the support of Climate Tracker’s COP27 Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship.