‘The world still looks like an empire’

IssueDecember 2022 - January 2023
Feature by Mia Mottley

I came here to say a few things. I don’t need to repeat the horror and the devastation wrecked upon this earth over the course of the last 12 months since we met in Glasgow.

Whether the apocalyptic floods in Pakistan, or the heat waves from Europe to China, or in the last few days my own region, the devastation caused in Belize, with tropical storm Lisa, or the torrential floods a few days ago in St Lucia. We don’t need to repeat it because the pictures are worth a thousand words.

But what we do need to do is understand why we are not moving any further. ‘1.5 to stay alive’ cannot be that mantra.

I take no pride in having to repeat it over and over. We have the collective capacity to transform. We are in the country that built pyramids. We know what it is to remove slavery from our civilization. We know what it is to be able to find a vaccine within two years when a pandemic hits us. We know what it is to put a man on the moon....

I come from a small island state that has high ambition but that is not able to deliver on that high ambition....

Our ability to access electric cars or batteries or affordable [solar] panels is constrained by those countries that have a dominant presence and can produce for themselves, but the Global South remains at the mercy of the Global North on these issues...

This world looks, still, too much like when it was part of an imperialistic empire. The Global North borrows with interest rates between one to four percent. The Global South, around 14 percent.... If countries that want to finance their way to net zero and want to do the right thing can’t get the critical supplies, will they not have to rely again on natural gases? ...

Loss and damage

We believe that it is critical to address the issue of loss and damage. I would like to salute Denmark, Belgium and Scotland for their own modest ways of trying to accept the precepts and principles of loss and damage, as critical and morally just.

But for loss and damage to work we believe that it can’t be only an issue of asking state parties to do the right thing, although they must, but we believe that the non-state actors, the stakeholders, the oil and gas companies and those who facilitate them, need to be brought into a special convocation between now and COP28.

How do companies make $200bn in profits in the last three months and not expect to contribute at least 10¢ in every dollar of profit to a loss and damage fund?

This is what our people expect....

My friends, the time is running out on us. And, yes, we have the power of choice....

When given the choice of how to treat postwar Europe, president Truman settled the Marshall plan, that made the definable difference to the countries that were responsible for the destruction of so much and the loss of life for so many. They chose to rise above it.

I ask us today: What will our choice be? We have the power to act or the power to remain passive and do nothing.

I pray that we will leave Egypt with a clear understanding that the things that are facing us today are all interconnected. There needs to be peace.

Countries like ours continue to suffer as a result of a war that we are not part of.

And a war that we want to see come to an end....

I ask the people of the world and not just the leaders to hold us accountable and to ask us to act in your name to save this earth and to save the people of this earth. The choice is ours.

What will you do?

What will you choose to save?

Topics: COP27