SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The head of this year’s U.N. global climate summit urged more availability of funds to fight climate change in the Caribbean during a regional meeting Thursday in Barbados.
Sultan al-Jaber, the United Arab Emirates’ minister of industry, noted that high costs have prevented island nations from quickly adopting renewable energy as they face what he said was some of the world’s harshest climate impacts.
“The peoples of the Caribbean have been on the front lines of climate change for longer than most,” he said. “Your experience represents an early warning system for the rest of the world.”
Al-Jaber spoke to leaders from a 15-member trade bloc known as Caricom during an event broadcast online, saying that closing the climate finance gap is a priority ahead of the COP28 summit in Dubai in December.
Al-Jaber spoke the same day that the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration increased its prediction for the Atlantic hurricane season from near-normal to above-normal given record sea surface temperatures. Some 14 to 21 named storms are now expected, with two to five major hurricanes.
Five tropical storms already have formed this year, marking an unusually busy start to the season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
“This region knows only too well the human and economic costs of too little finance for climate adaptation and resilience,” al-Jaber said of the Caribbean.
He credited Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley for creating a plan known as the Bridgetown Initiative, which would make it easier for developing nations to fight global warming and postpone debt payments when disasters occur.
Supporters have said the plan could free up $1 trillion in climate financing.
On Wednesday, Mottley announced that her administration would create a legacy fund to help Barbados fight climate change.