By Jabari Fraser
At the start of the [Conference of Parties] COP26 Summit in Glasgow this week, Caribbean leaders took centre stage as they voiced their concerns over climate change and how it affects some of the most vulnerable countries on the planet.
From the main pavilion to the areas provided by the UK hosts, the Commonwealth and businesses, Caribbean leaders delivered hard-hitting speeches about their immediate needs as climate change threaten their nations' livelihoods.
Caribbean Intelligence has pulled together the top quotes and venue videos to help you catch up with the Caribbean leaders’ presence at COP26.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley came from delivering a series of tough speeches at global venues to the opening ceremony of the COP26 Summit. Her powerful presentation became one of the most most-reported on speeches on the first morning. This was followed by a series of interviews for the Barbadian leader with global media houses. At COP26, Prime Minister Mottley told the opening ceremony that small island states were on the front line of climate change. She said told world leaders that “we are digging our own graves”.
"Are we so blinded we can no longer appreciate the cries of humanity?" she said. She told the opening ceremony that a 2ᵒC temperature for the planet would be a “death sentence”.
“We have come here today to say, try harder”, the Barbadian leader told world leaders.
Prime Minister Mottley at the opening ceremony [video: CARICOM]:
On day one, Caribbean leaders also took part in a discussion organised by the Commonwealth at it Glasgow Pavilion.
Tuesday leaders gathering
One day two, a meeting of world leaders, chaired by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, took place. Speakers included Prime Minister Mottley, CARICOM Chairman Gaston Browne and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
Gaston Browne: “We’re fighting to protect our civilisation”.
US President Joe Biden: “The United States, if I have anything to do with it, will do its part”.
Andrew Holness: The young people of the world are depending on us to action now”.
Mia Mottley: “We need the support now...not the next decade.”
View the video of this meeting:
On Tuesday, the Commonwealth Pavilion also held a series of meetings focused on climate change issues which are vital to member states. During the session on Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and Grenada, the focus was once again on the Caribbean.
View the video of this session:
On Wednesday, the focus moved to how the world’s climate ambitions would be funded. The so-called “finance day” allowed Caribbean countries to outline their financial needs to tackle climate change and disaster, as well as the transitioning to green energy projects.
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister and CARICOM Chairman Gaston Browne told the meeting that overshooting of a planet temperature of 1.5ᵒc would be “unacceptable”. Outlining how parts of small islands were being lost to climate change, he said: “We deserve a home too”.
He criticised the “gaming of the system” by some developed countries after promises made at COP15 in Paris. He said that Antigua would be seeking a legal pathway to try and get the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea to tackle the “climate pariahs”. Prime Minister Browne said that small states had been “duped” by the Paris Convention and that funding had not been accessible to middle income countries. “We’re tired of these games,” he said, calling for a move from financing based on a per capita basis to a universal vulnerability index.
View the video:
Leaders left the COP mid-week and officials are now working through the details and delivery methods of the main commitments.
What the Caribbean papers said about the leaders at COP:
Real commitment or more long talk? - Barbados Today editorial
On the wrong side of history – T&T Newsday Editorial