The developed world has created a climate change problem it alone can solve. However, the problem of climate change affects small island states like Saint Lucia disproportionately. The extreme weather conditions of rising sea levels, extreme hurricanes and rising temperatures continue to disrupt livelihoods, with little resources available to build resilience, making small island states ever more dependent on a beneficent world. Saint Lucia’s contribution to the world’s carbon emissions does not register any presence, though it has made a perfunctory commitment to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 7% by 2030.
COP26, the international climate change summit, will be hosted in the Scottish city of Glasgow in November 2021. Countries participating at the summit are expected to update their National Determined Contributions (NDC): a commitment of measures to reduce carbon emissions made at COP25 held in Paris six years ago. Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister, Philip J Pierre is expected to attend the summit along with 190 world leaders.
While any updates to Saint Lucia’s NDC will make no difference to keeping the world on track in meeting COP25 global warming reduction target of 1.5 degrees, its presence together with other small island developing states must ensure that developed countries, the main contributors to climate change, clearly understand the negative impact of climate change on its people. Saint Lucia should attend COP26 not only as a country but as part of an organized and purpose-driven group of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) if it is to have any moral suasion over the carbon-polluting developed countries to change course quickly. Some already believe this Glasgow summit maybe the last chance for the world to get runaway climate change under control.
The United Kingdom, the host country, may be the catalyst to getting other countries to ramp efforts to save the world from catastrophe. The UK has decarbonized its economy faster than any G20 country and has agreed to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030.
Saint Lucia must prepare itself for a surge in cheap imported cars because of that decision by the UK, regarding petrol and diesel cars. This will certainly have implications for the new car market in Saint Lucia and will drive the price of cars downwards, in much the same way that imported second-hand cars from Japan did in the 90s.
As decision-taker and not decision-maker, the Saint Lucia government during its presence at COP26 must pay attention to the fall-out of the carbon-reduction measures taken by the developed countries and its likely economic impact, positive and negative, on us. While COP26 may reduce the world’s carbon emissions, it may also leave us with some discarded first world technologies that may be difficult to ignore.