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Commentary

Grenada at COP 26

Senator Simon Stiell, the Minister for Climate Resilience headed the Grenada delegation at COP-26 in Glasgow recently. The Senator appeared on the Bubb Report on social media, Sunday 21st November 2021 and was also part of the Post Cabinet press briefing on Tuesday, November 23rd 2021, presumably with the intention of sharing information with us, the people.

It seems the Senator finds it “Difficult to translate the battles of words, texts and figures in a meaningful and tangible way for islands such as Grenada who are on the frontline’ (the Bubb Report): he also finds it “Difficult to tell ‘his people’ what words, numbers and contentious debates are about in this International forum”, (Post Cabinet briefing on GIS).

Despite all this difficulty in communicating the challenges of climate change, both at conference and here in Grenada, Senator Stiell insists that Grenada was at the forefront of negotiations, facilitating talks and deliberating with world leaders on the subject, maybe this is an indication of why the outcomes of COP-26 were not as successful as hoped.

In response to Dr. Bubb’s question regarding development being allowed in sensitive areas, the Senator reiterated that Grenada is leading the region in many aspects of climate resilience, citing a project called Smart City which might take place in any of the bigger towns in Grenada and the newly launched water resilience project, G-Crews, money for which was sourced and applied for in 2016/7 from the Green Climate Fund.

Friends of the Earth-Grenada have led and continue to lead discussions with the public on climate change and its effects on several aspects of Grenada’s wellbeing, such as environment, water, food security, deforestation, beach erosion, to name a few, since 1991.

However, the Senator chooses not to hear what the people on the ground want to convey with regard to these issues. The vocal people of Civil Society are now ignored and are not invited to participate in consultations, discussions and debates re environment and the impact of climate change.

A case in point being that Friends of the Earth has contacted the Senator by email on numerous occasions, offering suggestions and asking for clarity regarding matters such as the Sauteurs Breakwater issue, to no avail, not one response.

The “‘Climate Champion’ of the UK, Mr. Nigel Topping, came to Grenada to engage with governments and stakeholders focusing on connecting initiatives, coalitions and non-Party stakeholders with national action plans to support strong climate action in the Caribbean”.

While he was brought to the research aspect at SGU’s public health department and shown NAWASA”s Green Climate Funded, Climate-Resilient Water Sector (C-REWS) project, invitations to members of local NGO’s and Civil Society were not to be seen and the visit went mostly unreported besides being included on the Government website.

Dr. Bubb also asked the Senator about the controversial Blue Growth Report developed by a group headed up by Dr. Angus Friday about 10 years ago which showed proposed developments such as the Port and Marina in Sauteurs, St Patrick and massive glass and steel buildings in the heart of St George’s, which Civil Society have decried vehemently.

He denied any knowledge of the Report which was a bare-faced lie, as he has been challenged previously in official meetings with Civil Society regarding its contents, to which he replied at the time that ‘it was only an artist’s impression’.

We all saw Prime Minister Motley of Barbados become the star of COP 26 in her appeal for SDR (Special Drawing Rights) money which is printed and used for quantitative easing in the developed countries.

This has assisted them since the financial crash of 2008, and PM Motley asked for a greater portion of this money, to be given to the developing world in relation to mitigation and adaptation to climate change since the Western countries are the bigger emitters of greenhouse gases.

This appeal went mostly unheard but the seed has been planted and was a topic of many conversations here in Grenada. Despite the Senator’s insistence that the target of core temperature rising no more than 1.5C was held (by the skin of its teeth) at COP26; 1.5C the maximum rise before even more extensive damage is unleashed on the most vulnerable countries, such as Grenada, from hurricanes, sea level rise, drought etc: most of the media and NGO’s present at COP26 are in agreement that despite progress being made on greenhouse gas emissions, climate finance and international cooperation, this still leads to a temperature rise of about 2.4C which led to the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Gutierrez saying that 1.5C was ‘on life support’.

The Senator announced on both programmes that the pot of money for adaptation for developing states had been doubled from $20million to $40million. Is it realistic in this time of Covid to think that this promise will be honoured?

Commitments and promises have been made previously by the developed world and instantly reneged on, who can say that this time anything will be different; but not to worry as thousands of people from roughly 200 countries will be invited again to the next COP, to go on the same merry-go-round, as Greta Thunberg said in Glasgow, more blah, blah, blah and more money spent without even the ‘trickle’ of money mentioned by Senator Stiell arriving in Grenada for actual adaptation and mitigation.

The above was submitted by Friends of the Earth-Grenada