Since the Paris Agreement, while the effects of climate change have worsened, the United States’ position on loss and damage has remained the same. “Loss and damage is an existential problem for us,” said AOSIS representative, Belizean Environment Minister Omar Figueroa, at the latest climate change conference in 2019. “We need to. clear, predictable funding that we can access to really compensate. the loss and damage felt by so many of our sister nations. However, US officials, operating under the Trump administration, continued to refuse discussions on finances and privately stressed that to do otherwise “would push the button of a certain man in the Oval Office.”
As a proposed workaround, some developed countries, such as those in the European Union, have suggested tapping into the Green Climate Fund, a pool made available to developing countries to assist them in their mitigation efforts and adaptation. But Harjeet Singh, senior advisor at Climate Action Network International, told me it would deplete an already underfunded stream. “Loss and damage occurs when you realize that you haven’t done enough for mitigation and adaptation,” he says. Finances, he says, remain a primary issue. According to some economists, the loss and damage from climate change is expected to rise to somewhere between $ 290 billion and $ 580 billion per year by 2030. Currently, there is no source of funding to cover these costs. “This means that money that should have gone to education, health care, infrastructure is now being diverted to emergency response, rehabilitation and reconstruction, plunging developing countries into a vicious cycle poverty and debt, ”Singh said. “Finance is something that the really rich countries, especially the United States, have made sure there is no progress and no discussion.”
April 22, 2021, the biden The administration has launched a leaders ‘climate summit – as part of a post-Trump administration attempt to save the narrative of the United States’ role in tackling climate change. In his opening speech, the president urged nations around the world to increase their ambition to reduce emissions. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about climate justice, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that while every country is feeling the effects of climate change, “some countries experience much more severe impacts than others, which we must recognize and treat ”. But they made no mention of developed countries rising to the call of responsibility; they made no mention of Loss and Damage.
On behalf of my Bahamas, I wish I could say that the world was not so inextricably connected. This would mean that as the planet continues to heat up, Bahamians like my mother, like Jacana Theoc, Tyrone Mather, and Ann Wilmore, would not be at such a risk of being torn apart their entire lives. In a closed system, the carbon emissions of a small island state could change the climate at a rate proportional to their size. But the systems of this world are incredibly open, entangled across oceans, continents, and nation states, and so the cumulative carbon footprint of every country on the planet is weighing down on the small islands. Some of us are disappearing with the rise of the oceans. Some are experiencing droughts. Some face storms that swing blades that we can no longer ward off. My Bahamas are facing the effects of climate change we could never have caused on our own, and bigger crises than we can survive on our own.
I’ve been told that world climate conferences tend to be held in convention centers, in windowless rooms with strip lighting and air conditioning. This means that global climate policies are negotiated in climates that are much more neutral than the ones they affect. But their stakes remain incredibly high. Because this year’s conference, in Glasgow in November, will be the Biden administration’s first, it has a great opportunity to elevate its ambitions and finally allow for a discussion of accountability to developing countries and small states. islanders. There is no other way to achieve climate justice, and no other way for our countries to survive.
Bernard ferguson is a Bahamian poet and essayist currently working on a book on climate change and small island states. Melissa Alcena is a Bahamian portrait and documentary photographer based in Nassau. Her work focuses on shifting the paradisiacal Caribbean narrative.