When it comes to addressing climate change issues, there is an over-abundance of “sweet-sounding lyrics” from major emitters that turn out to be “bitterly deceptive,” Prime Minister Ralph has told the United Nations.
“On the bundle of issues touching and concerning climate change, global warming, biodiversity challenges, land degradation and desertification, there is a veritable Tower of Babble; there is an over-abundance of sweet-sounding lyrics by the major emitters but they turn out to be bitterly deceptive,” Gonsalves told the General Debate of the UN General Assembly 78th Session.
The Vincentian leader said a lack, or an insufficiency, of meaningful corrective action by the irresponsible climate polluters — countries and companies — “constitute unpardonable, egregious wrongs, indeed it is a species of barbarism”.
He said that the upcoming global climate conference in the United Arab Emirates is a critical test of humanity’s commitment to save the planet from the ravages of man-made climate change.
“We know the oft-repeated benchmarks and the corrective agenda,” the prime minister said.
He told the gathering of world leaders that in the composite package of policies and measures, especial consideration has to be accorded the most vulnerable countries such as small island developing states in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and the poorer communities in climate-distressed areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Gonsalves spoke of the Bridgetown Initiative 2.0, proposed by Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley and endorsed by CARICOM, the Community of States of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Association of Small Island States and dozens of countries in the African Union, and elsewhere.
Gonsalves pointed out that the Bridgetown Initiative 2.0 criss-crosses the issue of financing for development in the era of climate change and the down-side ramifications of the structural distortions in the global economy for poor, and vulnerable middle-income.
“This progressive initiative contains creative financing proposals that would result in much more resources on highly concessionary terms for poor and vulnerable regions,” he said.
Gonsalves said that the Multi-Dimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) championed by vulnerable middle-income countries, including those in the Caribbean, finds a place in this reform mix of financing for development.
“St. Vincent and the Grenadines urges strong support of the Bridgetown Initiative 2.0 and the MVI by this United Nations General Assembly,” he said, adding that Kingstown also endorses the initiative of The Bahamas to remove from the OECD “–the rich club–” any global authority it assumes for suzerainty on international taxation and related matters.
“Properly they ought to be resident in the United Nations,” Gonsalves said.
He told the assembly that developing countries “must refrain from being mere prideful villagers obsessed with immediate trifles and blind themselves to the far more compelling issues beyond their individual control, and which demand a unifying solidarity with others to confront successfully their travails.
“Poor vulnerable, climate- distressed and resource-challenged developing countries are absolutely fed up and insulted by the unfulfilled perennial promises of the developed world on climate financing.”
Gonsalves reminded the assembly that in 2025 UN members signed on to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, targeted for achievement by 2030.
He noted that earlier in the week, issues centred on the SDGs were accorded especial consideration, adding, “admirably, a refreshing of them has been canvassed.
“But the critical issue of a sufficiency of financing for development, including climate financing and reparations, remains the proverbial elephant in the room to be effectively harnessed to serve the deserving. Here again, agreed commitments entered into must be translated into real actions.”
The prime minister said that SVG has been insisting as a part of the conversation on the SDGs, that there must be “a special carve out for reparations from European countries for the legacies of underdevelopment engendered by native genocide and the enslavement of African bodies — horrendous crimes against humanity.
“In this matrix, an especial focus is required for our Haiti. The case for reparatory justice within the framework of the SDGs is compelling, and answerably strong. The time for reparations has come; this demand will not go away. Africa, the Caribbean, our diaspora, and others who hanker for a just world insist on it,” Gonsalves said.