If global warming exceeds 1.5 ° C, island nations look into the abyss
* All opinions expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Even with a temperature rise of 1.1 ° C, many vulnerable countries, like mine, are already trying to cope with the impacts of climate change – and we need money to adapt.
Simon Stiell is the M from Granadaadvocate for climate resilience and the environment
I’m not going to pretend I’m not frustrated. It’s hard to make eye contact with other negotiators with your back against a wall. Knowing that for them there is money to be saved and time to do so. It’s frustrating because I’m running out of time. My family, my friends, my country and my region – we are running out of time.
The ocean arrives for the houses of a village north of my island. We already need to relocate residents as best we can. As the seas rise, our debt levels are increasing. Our fishermen and farmers are no longer able to obtain the same catches or harvests as before.
It is only 1.1 ° C of warming. Right now the world is heading over 2 ° C – closer to 3 ° C if I’m honest. It is not livable for us.
Every tenth of a degree of warming counts. The latest IPCC report highlighted the huge differences between 1.5 ° C and 2 ° C of warming – up to 3m of sea level rise could be avoided if we keep the temperature rise at 1 , 5 ° C.
This is why we, the small islands, fought so hard for the 1.5 ° C limit in the Paris Agreement. If we go beyond that, we are only looking into the abyss. 1.5 staying alive is our reality.
We know that our best lever to prevent these impacts is to reduce our emissions in accordance with the 1.5 ° C target of the Paris Agreement. This is why countries that present ambitious goals before and at COP26 in Glasgow are so important. Especially the G20 which – with 75% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 80% of global GDP – has a very big role to play in reducing emissions.
But it is also important for us, as a global community, to recognize that many vulnerable countries, like mine, are already trying to cope with the impacts of climate change. And we need the money to adapt.
LACK OF FINANCING
The main obstacle to adaptation is the lack of funding. Climate finance flowing to the small islands has not increased, but decreased by 600 million between 2018 and 2019.
In 2017-18, an estimated only 3% of bilateral climate finance went to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) – and the bulk of that funding was in the form of loans and other non-grant instruments.
At the same time, SIDS have incurred increased debt due to climate impacts. The costs of hurricane damage run into the billions of dollars per event. This deprives national resources of sustainable development and makes us even more vulnerable to climate change.
In 2009, the international community said that by 2020, $ 100 billion a year would be earmarked for vulnerable countries to help them reduce their emissions. But that deadline has passed, and we still haven’t seen that promise come true. It won’t be for a few years either, unless things change.
In contrast, the G20 alone has spent at least US $ 3.3 trillion on fossil fuel subsidies – coal, oil and gas, and fossil energy – in the five years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement. .
Now, in 2021, climate change is worse. Our adaptation needs have increased. And this is the critical time when we, as the international community, really need to invest in new infrastructure and technologies to reduce our emissions.
$ 100 billion is nowhere near enough to pay for both the transformational change needed to decarbonize and avert disaster, as well as the incredible losses that vulnerable countries are already suffering. We need new and additional funding to deal with escalating loss and damage, which is only expected to increase with rising global temperatures.
The impacts of a current trajectory of 2.5-3 ° C exceed what small islands can adapt to.
We are slowly but surely pushed to the edge of a cliff. I turn to these big emitters who are pushing us into this increasingly precarious situation, who are just starting to take the kind of damage that a hostile climate can have on them. In negotiations, I wear a smile and use my voice as best I can – I deploy my precious “vulnerable point of view”.
But I am frustrated. How long are we supposed to wait? What kind of sacrifice are we prepared to make? It’s me? Is this my house? Is this my culture?
If the world fails to limit warming to 1.5 ° C, we will fail.