Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 1, 2022 (SKNIS): From factories in industrialized countries pumping billions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere contributing to global warming with the result of more deadly natural disasters such as hurricanes in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to severe droughts because of inadequate rainfall, the climate crisis is taking a mounting toll on lives and livelihoods around the globe. Who should bear the brunt of the responsibility for this? And why are smaller and lesser developed countries crying out for climate justice?
St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Environment and Climate Action, Hon. Dr. Joyelle Clarke, strongly believes that the climate crisis is a human rights crisis and that those bigger and richer countries that are the main contributors to the problem should financially help smaller and poorer countries whose contribution to the problem is almost negligible and who suffer from the devastation of deadly disasters because of climate change.
Honourable Clarke is a strong advocate for the Loss and Damage Fund that was established at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP 27) at Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, and which was the culmination of decades of pressure from climate-vulnerable developing countries. The fund aims to provide financial assistance to nations most vulnerable and impacted by the effects of climate change. Although the nitty-gritty of the Loss and Damage Fund is still to be worked out, Dr. Clarke says there is a ray of hope.
With rising sea levels and massive food shortages that threaten to affect hundreds of millions of people, Dr. Clarke is standing up for the most vulnerable. She said that climate change is aggravating existing inequalities and is particularly felt by key populations that are already facing serious human rights infractions such as older people, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, women, and those living in poverty in general.
“Climate responsiveness and the Loss and Damage Fund are ultimately an issue of justice, and a recognition that the most vulnerable amongst us, whether it’s within SKN—the elderly, the disabled, the LGBTQ+ community, the transient population, migrants—these persons suffer the most because of the inherent vulnerabilities, whether it is economic displacement, whether it’s the language barrier and inability to build resilient homes, for example,” she said at a post-COP27 press conference on November 30 at the Solid Waste Management Corporation conference room.
She added: “We always have to recognize the human element in policy decisions like climate change and loss and damage and that’s why ultimately the climate crisis is a matter of humanity and a humanitarian crisis; it’s about people, it’s not just about the politics and money but it’s about how do we survive, how do we ensure that the most vulnerable can live and live decent lives.”
“Should an old woman or a single mother lose a traditional family home because of climate change and should larger, richer countries do nothing about this problem that they have caused for some elderly person who has done nothing really to contribute to climate change?” she asked.