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By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Tues. July 6, 2021: New Chairman of the Caribbean Community, (CARICOM), Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, has called for climate reparations from developed countries.

In his inaugural address to the 42nd CARICOM Heads of Government meeting Monday, Browne said developed countries need to pay up since they are main contributors to greenhouse gases, to vulnerable states bearing the brunt of the effects.

He pointed to the floods in Guyana and Suriname that have devastated households, to highlight the vulnerability of CARICOM states to the ravages of climate change.

“As I speak, several of our member states are recovering from the effects of hurricane Elsa. I take the opportunity to offer the solidarity and support of (my) Government and the entire Community… the recent volcanic eruptions in St Vincent and the Grenadines and the flooding in Guyana and Suriname, which displaced thousands of people and destroyed agriculture production, provide further evidence of the ongoing challenges besetting our member states,” he said.

“The causes of the climate crisis have already been scientifically established, and the time has come for those countries irresponsible enough to continue their damaging emissions and practices to be held to account,” Browne added. “It is my view that real progress on the climate crisis will only be made when the major polluters are made legally liable for the damage they cause. The current system of discretionary international assistance for climate damage, where pledges are honored only fitfully, is both inadequate and inequitable. This is a call for climate reparations that CARICOM must take up urgently and engage in vigorous diplomatic outreach to build international consensus on this issue.”

Meanwhile, Browne also urged his fellow Heads of Government to consider the question of how the region can best tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and increase access to and use of the COVID vaccine. He also urged those who are reluctant to be vaccinated, to rethink this approach.

According to Browne, a regional approach to tackling vaccine hesitancy among citizens is also important, if countries in the region are to achieve herd immunity and overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

Browne noted the economic importance of economies being able to breathe again and for jobs to be retained. He also pointed to the importance of education, which has been disrupted to various degrees around the world by the pandemic, to return to normal.

The meeting is being held on the heels of the 48th anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty establishing the Caribbean Community. This year also marks 20 years since the adoption of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, establishing the Caribbean Community including the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME), which has seen little progress.

“There are almost two dozen items on our agenda for this meeting, and I urge all of us to approach them with a sense of urgency and decisiveness,” said the new chairman. “Finally, let us not engage in the developmental malpractice of kicking the can down the road.”

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