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Climate justice

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is urging the young people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to join the call for climate justice.

He made the call on radio as he noted that the major emitters have not lived up to their 2009 pledge in Sweden to give US$100 billion annually from 2020 onward to the worst affected countries to help to adapt to and mitigate against the impacts of climate change.

“No money has come down. It’s bare hypocrisy, double-talking,” Gonsalves said recently on NBC Radio.

He said some of the major contributors to global warming are the use of carbon-based energy, large-scale commercial farming and transportation.

“Now, a number of countries are transitioning to hybrid vehicles or electrical vehicles and the electricity provided through renewable sources of energy,” Gonsalves said.

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“Now, some countries say that by 2030 they want to transition largely to hybrid or electric vehicles. Japan, for instance; other countries, too. But you know what’s going to happen in the meanwhile? They’re going to dump a lot of their vehicles, the gasoline vehicles, more and more on us to be using them.

“That factor has to be taken into account when you’re reviewing how you’re going to put charges, duties, customs duties and VAT and the like on vehicles. At the moment electric or hydrogen vehicles are very expensive compared to the other vehicles, but this is changing rapidly.

“You see why we have to keep our eye on the ball with all of these things. And young people, I’m asking the young people to demand these things,” he said.

At the 2015 Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and again last year in Scotland, countries agreed that by taking action now, the world can keep global temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrialisation levels.

Small island developing states, including St. Vincent and the Grenadines said that if temperatures rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius, they will face an existential threat.

Gonsalves, who is 76, said that by 2050, he, as well as a number of MPs, given their ages, “would neither be in this earthly city and certainly not in the Parliament”.

He mentioned Opposition Leader Godwin Friday; MP for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock; MP For West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings; MP for South Windward, Frederick Stephenson; and MP for Marriaqua, Jimmy Prince.

Gonsalves said that given their ages, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Keisal Peters, Attorney General Grenville Williams, Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar, Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves, Government Senator Ashelle Morgan, and Opposition Senators Shevern John and Israel Bruce, are like to be around in 28 years’ time.

“And young people, people who are at primary and secondary school and at college and university, I’m saying you must take a very active view on issues touching and concerning climate change because it’s your world that the generation and the generations before and especially the older generation today in the developed countries, particularly, warming up the climate,” the prime minister said.