Mia Mottley

Mia Mottley, prime ,mnister of Barbados, speaks at the COP27 climate conference on November 7, 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Barbados PM Condemns Lack of 'Simple Political Will' to Deliver Climate Action

"We have the collective capacity to transform," Prime Minister Mia Mottley said. "We're in the country that built pyramids."

Addressing international leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt at the 27th United Nations Conference of the Parties, the annual global summit on the climate crisis, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley on Monday said that only "political will" stands in the way of ending fossil fuel emissions and mitigating the resulting extreme weather, melting glaciers, and other impacts felt disproportionately by the Global South.

"We have the collective capacity to transform," Mottley said. "We're in the country that built pyramids. We know what it is to remove slavery form our civilization. We know what it is to be able to find a vaccine within two years when a pandemic hits us. We know what it is to put a man on the moon and now we put a rover on Mars."

But judging from the failures of wealthy nations to take necessary action, she said, "The simple political will that is necessary not just to come here and make promises, but to deliver on them and to make a definable difference in the lives of the people who we have a responsibility to serve, seems still not to be capable of being produced."

Mottley's comments came as representatives from wealthy countries pledged that discussions at COP27 will focus on "loss and damage" financing--funding for countries which have already suffered devastating flooding, drought, and other climate impacts.

While climate campaigners applauded the addition of loss and damage to the formal agenda for the conference on Sunday, the fact that the Global South had to push for the issue to be addressed left many advocates unconvinced that COP27 would achieve greater success at securing climate justice than previous conferences.

After the Bonn Climate Change Conference in June, campaigners denounced European countries for boosting fossil fuel imports as they failed to make concrete plans to compensate poor countries that are disproportionately facing sea level rise and extreme weather, despite being responsible for far fewer fossil fuel emissions than the Global North.

Last week, the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) detailed how wealthy countries have also failed to provide adaptation financing to the Global South, providing just $29 billion in 2020 to help governments cope with flooding, prevent the loss of crops, and take other actions that are unaffordable for them. According to the UNEP report, the cost of climate adaptation is expected to rise as high as $340 billion per year by 2030.

"Our ability to access electric cars or our ability to access batteries or photovoltaic panels are constrained by those countries that have a dominant presence and can produce for themselves," said Mottley. "The Global South remains at the mercy of the Global North on these issues."

COP27 is being held on the heels of several new climate reports showing that continued fossil fuel extraction puts the planet on a path to heat up by 2.8degC by the end of the century, and that even with countries meeting their 2030 emissions reduction goals, the planet will still be 2.4 to 2.6degC hotter than preindustrial temperatures.

Island nations including Mottley's country of Barbados are among the most vulnerable to the extreme impacts of the climate crisis. In 2021, Hurricane Elsa caused flash flooding, knocked out power, and blew the roofs off homes on the island.

At COP27, a bloc of more than 100 developing countries is pushing for a loss and damage fund, building on funds announced by Scotland, Denmark, and Belgium.

Pakistan, where historic flooding killed at least 1,700 people and destroyed two million homes earlier this year, is leading the call, with Munir Akram, the country's permanent representative to the U.N. and its chief climate negotiator, denouncing "this reluctance on the part of the Global North to accept or admit their policies caused this, and therefore they have a responsibility to respond to this."

"To the developing countries that are suffering these impacts because of the policies of industrialized countries over the past 150 years," Akram told The Washington Post on Monday, "this is a matter of climate justice."

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.