Vulnerable nations urge rich economies to do more on climate
Africa accounts for just 4% of greenhouse gas emissions but is on the frontline of the impacts of climate changes, according to leading figures on the continent and in the Caribbean who are demanding that rich nations do more to protect the most vulnerable.
Countries on the frontline of climate change have called on the rest of the world to do more to recognise their vulnerabilities, saying they have taken steps to pool resources and protect their finances against disasters.
Baroness Scotland, secretary-general of the Commonwealth, told GlobalMarkets that for many small island nations, it was not a “question of keeping fiscal rectitude — as many people were telling them for so many years — but a question of survival”.
“When a hurricane wipes out roads, schools and infrastructure, it does not wipe out the debt,” she said. “The Commonwealth has been arguing there is a direct correlation between climate crises and indebtedness, but this has only recently been broadly recognised.”
Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados, told GlobalMarkets: “The world needs to take a closer look at who is vulnerable and who is not.”
Africa accounts for no more than 4% of greenhouse gas emissions but “suffers disproportionately” in terms of climate change impact, said Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank.
With the US having dropped out of the Paris climate accord in 2017, efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions were hit. And as climate disasters become more frequent, better financing is required to ensure they do not translate into economic disasters.
Several of 31 small states in the Caribbean, for example, are classified as high middle income countries, for example, complicating access to cheap financing.
“High income countries are asking how they can get loans at appropriate levels to rebuild,” said Baroness Scotland. “How do you manage [a huge reparation bill] if you don’t have preferential rates?”
Mottley said the difficulty of accessing money for middle income countries like Barbados and the Bahamas, where at least 20 people died in Hurricane Dorian in September, “fails to appreciate our vulnerability as small island states and the fact that everything can be reduced to rubble overnight”.
Adesina said his role was to “find solutions, not complain”, adding that the bank had launched the Africa Disaster Risk Insurance facility to provide payments in the event of catastrophic risk events. So far the facility covers Niger, Gambia and Madagascar and it is looking to mobilise $250m for a new facility.