Island states at climate conference: “We are robbed of our future”

Status: 03.11.2021 4:01 a.m.

At the climate summit in Glasglow, the initiatives planned by industrialized countries are making the headlines. For many island states, however, this does not go far enough. They warn: We are threatened with doom.

By Imke Köhler, ARD-Studio London, currently Glasgow

The cry for help comes from many parts of the world, and it can be heard clearly in Glasgow. Many island states fear for their existence. Surangel Whipps, the president of Palau, a group of islands in the western Pacific, is desperate.

The scorching sun brings us unbearable heat. The warming sea invades our country. Our resources are disappearing before our eyes. And we are robbed of our future. Frankly, slow death has no dignity. Then bomb our islands instead of making us suffer just so we can see our slow, fateful decline.

Imke Koehler
ARD-Studio London

The Prime Minister of the Caribbean island of Barbados, Mia Mottley, sounds similar. She speaks to the delegates’ conscience and sums up the misery of their country in the sentence: “We want to still exist in 100 years”.

Doom is imminent

Global warming is causing sea levels to rise – many island states and coastal regions are in danger of perishing in the foreseeable future. The demand is therefore unequivocal: the industrialized countries, which are essentially responsible for the greenhouse effect, should do more for climate protection and give more money so that the developing countries can practice climate protection and adapt to climate change.

100 billion dollars a year should have been mobilized for this since 2020, but the total has not yet come together. This is not expected to be the case until 2023.

But there is also a dispute about the use of the money. According to the Paris Climate Agreement, climate protection and adaptation measures should be taken into account equally, i.e. 50 percent each. In fact, however, there is significantly less money available for adaptation measures, such as the heightening of dykes – probably also because it is often not an attractive investment.

Adaptation is still neglected

Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary in the Federal Environment Ministry, admits that more needs to be done here:

We are also allowed to [der] Adaptation doesn’t let up, we have to do more. Germany is pretty far ahead, we are now at 40 percent. And I hope that we can make some headway here without us somehow belittling climate protection investments.

What is not even included in the targeted $ 100 billion is payments for damage and losses caused by climate change. Negotiations are currently underway as to whether there should be compensations for this in the future.

Allegations against industrialized countries

Maina Talia is the executive director of the Climate Action Network of Tuvalu, an island in the Pacific Ocean that is part of the Commonwealth and is just above sea level. In the conversation, Talia makes it clear how urgently his country needs the money, at the same time he has the feeling that the industrialized countries are only buying time instead of seriously reducing CO2 emissions themselves.

Talia warns: “If Australia wants to keep us away from its borders, it has to do something. If the Australians don’t, we will end up in their country.”

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