Unless immediate action is taken to curb global warming, countries around the world should expect a mass migration of refugees at their doorstep within the next several years, Barbados’ prime minister warned Monday.
“Make no mistake, there will be mass migration by climate refugees that will destabilize the countries of the world that are not on the frontline of this climate crisis,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley told world leaders at the United Nations Climate Event Summit in New York City.
According to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global temperatures are forecast to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) from their pre-industrial baseline sometime between 2030 and 2052, which Mottley stressed will prove deadly to Barbados and other members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
“In other words, 2 degrees needs to be taken off the table once and for all,” she said. “The real solution is for us to not keep asking people to make commitments that are small ... but the global community must accept that it is within our power to halt and reverse climate change.”
Barbados is one of 44 small island and low-lying coastal developing states that joined the AOSIS to help influence climate negotiations. Should temperatures continue to rise as forecast, the Carribean nation, which is home to roughly 300,000 people, is expected to suffer extreme drought and related health issues that will be catastrophic to its population, according to the World Health Organization.
“With a limited water supply in the future, there will be competition between various sectors with regards to the use of water,” WHO’s website states. “Water scarcity can cause a variety of health problems by reducing the amount of water available to practice basic hygiene and by increasing the risk of chemical and microbial contamination; these can lead to gastrointestinal diseases and other health risks.”
Knowing that potential reality, Barbados most recently unveiled efforts to implement solar power facilities for water pumping stations and micro-gas turbines to be used for backup in times of storms. The nation has also pledged to become fossil fuel-free by 2030, which will require replacing its entire transportation and electricity system. It is also working toward a goal of planting 1 million trees by next year.
“We refuse to be relegated to the footnotes of history and to be collateral damage for the greed of others, for we have contributed less than 1% of greenhouse gas emissions.”
“If it was up to our community of small nations to solve the problem of climate change, it would have been solved three decades ago when we raised it. We refuse to be relegated to the footnotes of history and to be collateral damage for the greed of others, for we have contributed less than 1% of greenhouse gas emissions,” Mottley said. “We have brought our plans as small nations, we are implementing them and we have fully embraced the responsibility to act. The young people of the world demand climate justice, as do we.”
Mottley further stressed the need for those in power and those capable of developing new tools and technologies to reevaluate their priorities toward the greater good.
“The world finds it possible to apply resources to solving male baldness while it cannot find the resources to cure malaria. These misplaced priorities will lose us the battle if it was up to us,” she said.