As a disaster prone region, the Caribbean islands suffer huge losses from hurricanes and other natural disasters exacerbated by climate change. How are you coping with this situation?
The Caribbean islands have consistently had hurricanes due to their geographical presence, but the intensity of such natural disasters has increased in the last few decades. After Hurricane Irma, the Island of Barbuda was completely evacuated. It’s the first time in over 300 years that not a single person is living in Barbuda islands.
So how are we coping?
The Government of Barbuda has taken creative measures to accommodate the people there by creating shelters. These people will be back when everything becomes normal again.
Apart form Hurricane Irma, Maria destroyed Dominica. Since Dominica and Antigua have a close relationship, we are hosting over 2,000 students migrated from there. It has created a burden on us. This is the first time we are facing a refugee problem caused by climate change.
What is the status of Loss and Damage discussion in COP23?
The Loss and Damage discussion is centred on finance. Developing countries are pushing it strongly, but the developed countries are pushing back despite considering the issue as serious.
Some sort of financial mechanism needs to be in place.
But the five-year rolling work plan on Loss and Damage does not provide any clear direction on finance except for the insurance.
Yes, insurance is one arm to address Loss and Damage. But it does not fully address the issue. For instance, in the Caribbeans we have had, for the first time in the world, a regional climate insurance mechanism to address loss and damage. It did not fully address our need. After Hurricane Irma, the World Bank, the EU, and the Caribbean Development Bank assessed that we need $250 million to recover from the losses. But we were able to allocate only $6 million from our regional insurance mechanism, which is wholly inefficient.
Why is this inefficient?
The premiums were paid by the company, which introduced it as a pilot. Our people don’t have the ability to pay that. We proposed that the insurance premium be paid by the developed countries, as it is a complete burden on the poor people.
That’s why we are saying that finance on loss and damage should come from established channels through the UNFCCC. Green Climate Fund might be one of them.
But climate finance is clearly divided into two directions – mitigation and adaptation. Also, Loss and Damage does not have any clear definition. How and where will the money go then?
Yes, the developed countries tried to talk about finance in line of mitigation while our importance is on adaptation finance. That’s why we need to consider a combination of both, in terms of Loss and Damage finance. But we, the vulnerable and developing countries, want grants and insurance payout simultaneously from developed countries.
The Loss and Damage has yet to have any clear definition. That’s why the finance should be considered as both mitigation and adaptation windows.
For instance, Hurricane Irma destroyed the Barbuda. It will require a huge amount of money to rebuild the island, which we don’t have. In that case, we need grants. And for risk minimization, we can go for insurance. That’s why we said that the developing countries need a mixed type of finance.
But I think it’s too early to talk about the future of finance, as the decision will come politically.