Antigua and Barbuda were another strong critic of large nations responsible for climate change problems at the COP26 conference in Scotland.
In 2017, Hurricane Irma reduced tiny Barbuda to “literally rubble,” forcing the entire population of 1,400 residents to be evacuated to Antigua. Hurricane Maria struck Antigua shortly after. Total cost of recovery is estimated at $377.2 million which is 25 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, yet the nation is considered too rich to qualify for aid grants.
The destructive capacity of Irma, which made landfall in Barbuda as a Category 5 storm, was likely intensified by warmer waters in the Atlantic Ocean caused by climate change.
Antigua and Barbuda - together with all the Small Island Developing States of the world - emit less than one per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, yet there is no mechanism in place for holding the world’s largest emitters accountable for recovery efforts.
“Immoral and unjust” is how Mia Mottley, Barbados PM, branded the failure to deliver critical loss and damage funding to small islands, when addressing the participants of the World Leaders’ Summit at COP26. She added that the toll of the climate crisis for SIDS was being measured in “lives and livelihoods.”
In light of this, Antigua and Barbuda decided to start COP26 with a bold move, made in collaboration with Tuvalu, a Pacific island nation that is disappearing as a result of sea-level rise and coastal erosion. The two islands announced a platform to hold big emitters legally accountable for loss and damage from extreme weather.
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