By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C. Mon. Mar. 29, 2021: Barbados’ Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, has been at the forefront of the climate fight for the region since taking office in 2018. But she has not been invited by US President Joe Biden to a White House climate summit next month.
The virtual event, entitled the ‘Leaders’ Summit on Climate,’ is to be held on April 22 and 23 and live-streamed, the White House said Friday. But Mottley is nowhere among the 40 leaders invited to the summit.
Instead, the only Caribbean prime ministers invited are prime ministers Andrew Holness of Jamaica, and Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda. Not even the current CARICOM Chair, Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has been invited.
Other world leaders sent an invitation to attend the virtual summit include: Xi Jinping, President of China; Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada; Emmanuel Macron, President of France; Angella Merkel, German chancellor; Jacinda Arden, Prime Minister of New Zealand; and Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
The White House said in a statement that the event is to feature the reconvening of the US-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 per cent of global emissions and global GDP.
Biden, in his invitation, urged leaders to use the summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries also will contribute to stronger climate ambition.
“The Leaders’ Summit on Climate will underscore the urgency – and the economic benefits – of stronger climate action,” the White House statement said. “It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.”
Interestingly, Mottley has been the lead on climate change for the region, including at the UN. Speaking at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City in 2019, Mottley delivered a stern warning to world leaders on the destabilizing domino-effect she believes these rising temperatures will have around the globe if greater measures are not taken to hasten the effects of climate change.
“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,” Mottley predicted then.
Today, the US is battling with a border crisis that include many fleeing Honduras after back-to-back hurricanes last year.
Mottley has also become a champion of what are known in sovereign debt contracts as natural-disaster clauses, measures that give the government a break from principal and interest payments in the event calamity strikes. She has defended the rights of small islanders bearing the brunt of the climate emergency, saying she was committed to empowering them, giving them opportunity, a voice and a presence, even when others cannot or refuse to see them.
In December last year, Mottley told the virtual Climate Ambition Summit 2020, that other countries’ climate ambition will determine the fate of Barbados and other island nations that are vulnerable to global warming.
While committing Barbados to a target of net zero emissions by 2030, Mottley urged large, high emitting countries to do their fair share when it comes to reducing emissions, and said she hoped they were not capable of what could be considered “climate genocide.”
And the PM has said Barbados has developed a model for how countries can protect their finances from climate change, especially neighboring Caribbean islands, which have been prone to default.
The invites to Brown and Holness is obvious. Brown for his part is Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) for the period, 2021-2022, and had sent Biden a note soon after his swearing in, expressing delight that the US government will, once again, commit to the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. While Jamaica’s Prime Minister has been asked by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to lead a global political initiative to mobilize climate change financing for developing nations.
But come April 23rd, Mottley won’t be at the White House event even as Biden claims he wants to chart a new course forward.