By Sir Ronald Sanders
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Monday November 6, 2017 – Caribbean small states should be readying themselves for a major joint push to make the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a landmark occasion for compensation for the damage caused to them by the world’s worst polluting nations.
COP 23 will take place in Bonn, Germany in early November and it will be presided over by the Government of Fiji, a Pacific small state with intimate knowledge and experience of the damaging effects of climate change. The case for compensation for damage to small states as a result of climate change has never been stronger than it is now.
2017 has witnessed record-breaking climate disasters across the globe – in the United States (US), Mexico, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes cut a swathe through the Caribbean in September from which the affected islands will not fully recover for many years to come.
Importantly, these hurricanes have also caused thousands of people, whose homes, schools, hospitals and businesses have been decimated, to seek refuge in other islands. These people are, in effect, ‘Climate Refugees’, ripped away from their history, their culture and their identity. Their plight has been created by ferocious storms not caused by their own actions but by profligate carbon emissions (CO2) by rich nations.
A World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report published on October 30, says that concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surged at a record-breaking speed in 2016 to the highest level in 800,000 years. According to the report, “the abrupt changes in the atmosphere witnessed in the past 70 years are without precedent.”