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ANTIGUA | 'Climate Crisis Is About Our Existence': Antigua-Barbuda PM

Gaston Browne also denounced the “strangling effects” of the sanctions on Venezuela. | Photo: teleSUR Gaston Browne also denounced the “strangling effects” of the sanctions on Venezuela. | Photo: teleSUR
On the sidelines of 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly currently happening in New York City, teleSUR met the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne to discuss the challenges and issues facing the Caribbean region, one of the most affected by the impacts of climate crisis, as it was seen with the devastation caused earlier this month in the Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian.

“The industrialized countries get the profits while we are suffering the consequences,” the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda told teleSUR.

“We call on the international community to help the Caribbean to build resilience, to mitigate and to adapt to the effects of climate change which is the most significant threat facing the planet,” the premier said.

“We Caribbeans are among the most vulnerable and our vulnerability is due to our limited resources.”

Browne who explained that the countries in the region do not have the capacity to build climate-resilient infrastructure and homes denounced the profligate use of fossil fuels by the industrialized countries, saying that “they get the profits while we are suffering the consequences.” 

The official added that climate justice should consist of the industrialized countries taking their responsibilities and helping smaller and most vulnerable ones to build resilience, to mitigate and to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Asked by teleSUR's correspondent Jorge Gestoso about a special agenda to bring to the general assembly where he is expected to speak on Friday, he said the Caribbean region had to continue to push for industrialized countries to reduce the emissions because “for us, it’s a life and death situation, it's about our own existence.” 

The premier recalled that even with the present level of emissions, climate change will be affecting Caribbean countries for the next thousand years, leaving 30 generations at least to deal with “ferocious” and frequent storms. He thus evoked how quintessential it is to continue to advocate in order to get the developed world to reduce emissions, with the survival of people in the Caribbean region depending on it.

While around 20 percent of the planet contamination is produced by the United States, President Donald Trump stated that climate change was a Chinese hoax. 

Browne condemned the statement as unfortunate when the extreme weather conditions including droughts, floods, storms show the deepening of the climate crisis which “cannot be denied.”

“The U.S. should take its rightful place and provide global leadership,” Browne said adding that he still hopes that the North American country will assume responsibility and work collectively with other countries to deal with what is “clearly an existential threat” to the entire world with the Caribbean islands being at the frontline.

Oil: a Key Issue for the Caribbean Region

Regarding the instability of oil prices particularly after the recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities, the prime minister acknowledged the importance of petrol for the region, however, Antigua and Barbuda have the ambition to transition into green energy before 2040 to avoid price unpredictability and to reduce their carbon footprint. 

The premier added that in terms of the present situation, the deal with the main supplier which is the Venezuelan public oil company (PDVSA), was eliminated because of the financial sanctions imposed on the South American country. 

Browne said his country saw the end of the credit it used to enjoy leaving it facing the petrol prices increase.

Denouncing the “strangling effects” of the sanctions on Venezuela, the prime minister said the Caribbean countries are the collateral victims of these sanctions that in Venezuela are plunging people into poverty and causing the deaths of innocents

“These sanctions are no effective means to end a regime change that certain countries are trying to engineer in Venezuela because ultimately innocent people are suffering,” he said, adding “the matter should be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue, as we believe in the universal principles of noninterference in the affair of states.”

Finally, Browne told teleSUR that the region “has to continue to agitate for the climate crisis, for the rich countries to reduce their carbon emissions, to take their responsibilities and provide some financial support for poorer countries.”

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  • Countries: Antigua_Barbuda

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