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Mottley presses climate change agenda in interview with Amanpour

Mottley presses climate change agenda in interview with Amanpour
This screengrab shows Prime Minister Mia Mottley during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in Glasgow, Scotland.

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Barbados has one of the smallest carbon footprints in the world, but it is one of many countries on the front line of climate change.

It is now a ‘code red’ and the major polluters need to sit up and address the problem – which may not affect their populations for another 15 to 20 years.

This was the view expressed by Prime Minister Mia Mottley in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 now on in Glasgow, Scotland.

Mottley said it was seen in the problems Barbados was experiencing with a lack of water, drought-like conditions and the encroachment of sea water into the ground water supply. Marine life was disappearing from coral reefs, sargassum seaweed on the east coasts caused by rising temperatures was threatening the tourism industry and there was an increase in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes and flooding.

She cited Hurricane Elsa, the first Barbados experienced in 66 years and the freak storm with 46 000 lightning strikes in 90 minutes.

“The problem is the people who need to make the decisions are kicking the can down the road and they believe that they can because they are not seeing us. They see themselves; and for them, they don’t reach that period of peril probably for another 15/20 years,” Mottley told Amanpour.

She said it was 4 degrees to go for Shanghai and Miami to be eradicated, but it was 1.5 and 2 for Barbados and other countries.

“So there are a lot of us that are going to be affected before Shanghai and Miami,” she added.

Both women noted the absence of China, the world’s biggest polluter, and Russia, also a major emitter of carbon, which is leading to rising temperatures. Mottley said if she had more time in her speech to the plenary on Monday, she would have signalled a ‘code red’ to those countries, the United States, Europe and India.

Mottley calls for climate change action at COP26

Another problem was the new emitters who also needed to heed the message about climate change action instead of pointing fingers at the traditional emitters because Small Island Developing States were “like the ground when elephants fight”.

She hoped the populations of those countries would put pressure on their leaders to do something about climate change and the need to act now, not later, adding “no one is safe until everyone is safe” as seen with the COVID-19 vaccines.

The Prime Minister reiterated a call for countries to set aside $500 billion a year, not in cash, but in “special drawing rights from the IMF – [International Monetary Fund]” for 20 years that could create a trust to help those countries between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

In response to a question from Amanpour, Mottley warned that forced migration would be a natural consequence of failing to act on climate change. She said those who had a problem with it, would then have to deal with the consequences.

She also addressed the conspiracy theories and false information being spread by some journalists and across the social networks, saying it could cost lives.   (SAT)