2 Degrees of Warming Is “Death Sentence” for Millions

Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, addressed the audience at this week’s U.N. climate summit. “We must act in the interests of all our people,” she said. “If we don’t, we will allow the path of greed and selfishness to sow the seeds of our common destruction.” She implored global leaders to “try harder” to keep global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius, as anything above this would mean “a death sentence” for vulnerable island countries, including Barbados.


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AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s show with Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley. She spoke at Monday’s opening ceremony.

PRIME MINISTER MIA MOTTLEY:The pandemic taught us that national solutions for global problems are not sustainable. We arrive in Glasgow with the global ambition to save our peoples and save the planet. But we now see three gaps.

We will leave the world on a pathway of 2.7 degrees with no mitigation, climate promises, or NDCs. With more, we can still get to 2 degrees. These commitments are made by people who have not yet developed the technology. This is at best reckless and at worst dangerous.

We are currently $20 billion short of the 100 billion mark in finance. Even then, this commitment may not be met until 2023.

Adaptation finance is still at 25%. This is not the 50-50 split promised or needed given the current climate change. In 2019, climate finance for small island developing states at the frontline fell by 25%. My friends, the cost of failure to provide the crucial finance and that of damage and loss is measured in lives and livelihoods within our communities. This is not moral and it is unfair.

If Glasgow is to live up to the Parisian promises, it must close these three gaping holes.

I ask you this question: What should we say to the people who are fighting in the Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean when ambition is lacking? What excuse can we make for our failure? In the words of that Caribbean icon Eddy Grant, “will they mourn us on the frontline?” When will we, as world leaders across the world, address the pressing issues that are truly causing our people angst and worry, whether it is climate or whether it is vaccines? Simply put, when are leaders going to lead?

Our people are paying attention and taking notice. Are we really going to leave Scotland if we don’t have the will and the ambition to save lives and save the planet? How many more voices and images of people do we need to see on these screens? Or are we so blinded that we no longer recognize the cry of humanity?

Since many years, I have been telling Barbadians: Many hands make lightwork. Today, we need the right mix of ambition, voices, and action. Are there leaders who believe they can survive and thrive by themselves? Did they not learn from the pandemic? Can peace and prosperity exist if one-third the world literally prospers, and the other two thirds of the globe live under siege and face calamitous threat to our well-being and security?

My friends, what the world really needs right now is leadership that is within reach of less than 200 people who are willing and able to lead. Leaders should not fail those who elect them to be leaders.

And I can tell you, there is a sword capable of cutting down this Gordian knot. It has been used before. The central banks in the wealthiest countries have engaged $25 trillion in quantitative ease in the past 13 years. Twenty-five trillion. 9 trillion of those were spent in the last 18 month to combat the pandemic. If we had used the $25 trillion to purchase bonds to fund the energy transition, the transition in how we eat, and how we move around in transport, we would be at 1.5 degrees today. I tell you today in Glasgow, Secretary-General that a $500 billion per year increase in SDRs for 20 years to finance the transition is the real gap that we need close, and not the $50 billion being proposed to adapt. If $500 billion seems too large, it is only 2% of the $25 Trillion. This is the sword we must wield.

Our excitement at this event is far lower than it was six-months ago, which was the time leading up to it. Can we, with these voices and these speeches by Sir David and other speakers, find the resolve to bring Glasgow on track? Or will we feel that it is a failure before it begins?

My friends, our world stands at a pivotal point in history, one that is no less important than the moment the United Nations was established in 1945. But the majority of our nations here didn’t exist back then. We exist now. The difference is that we want to exist in 100 years. If our existence is to have any meaning, we must act in the best interests of all our people who depend on us. And if we don’t, we will allow the path of greed and selfishness to sow the seeds of our common destruction.

The leaders of today — not 2030, not 2050 — must make this choice. It is in our control. It is more important than ever for our planet and our people. We can work together with anyone who is ready to go. The train is almost ready to depart. And those who are not yet ready, we need to continue to encircle and to remind them that their people — not our people, but their citizens — need them to get on board as soon as possible.

Code Red. Code Red for the G7 countries. Code Red. Code Red to G20 Earth to COP — that’s what it said. Earth to COP. 1.5 is the survival temperature for those with eyes to see, ears and hearts to listen. 2 degrees is the death sentence for Antigua, Barbuda, Fiji, Kenya, Mozambique and Samoa. We do not want that dreaded death sentence, and we’ve come here today to say “try harder.” Try harder, because our people, the climate army, the world, the planet, needs our actions now, not next year, not in the next decade. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley addressing the U.N. climate summit opening ceremony on Monday in Glasgow, Scotland. The whole video can be viewed here opening ceremony, we’ll link to it at democracynow.org. Next week, we’ll continue to bring you Climate Countdown, our comprehensive coverage is what’s happening at the U.N. summit, as we have for every U.N. climate summit since Copenhagen in 2009, featuring voices inside the COP, climate activists protesting outside, and advocates from the Global South who couldn’t travel to Scotland during the pandemic. On Saturday, more than 100,000 people will be on the streets of Glasgow. We’ll air highlights on Monday. To see more, visit democracynow.org all of our coverageThis week.

This concludes our show. Happy Birthday to John Hamilton Democracy Now!It has job openings at democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman. We are so grateful that you have joined us. Keep safe.