By Madeline Hislop

At a global climate ambition summit over the weekend, women leaders from around the world made their mark, highlighting the urgency of effective climate action.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia 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”.

“Unless the climate crisis is addressed, there will be no build back better for countries and economies like mine,” Mottley said.

“Frankly, at the global level we need to move from placatory rhetoric to real effective action or numerous nations across the world will be robbed of their future.

“I would like to believe that the major emitters are not capable of what would be in essence close to climate genocide. I would like to believe that we are visible and indispensable for them.”

Mottley said her government has created the enabling environment for the transition away from fossil fuels in Barbados, and that other countries can do the same.

“By 2030, most Barbadians will have solar panels on their roof and an electric vehicle in their garage,” she explained.

“Our optimism and joy in Paris now seems short lived. Global green house gas emissions continue to rise unabated and our window to end the crisis is closing.”

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Meanwhile, Australia’s absence from the summit didn’t go unnoticed with Kat Kramer, the climate policy lead at UK charity Christian Aid, comparing Australia’s lack of climate ambition to that of Russia and Saudi Arabia. She said Australia’s lack of commitment was “shameful”.

“Although we saw more than 70 world leaders making new commitments that still leaves many more that are yet to do so,” Kramer told the summit.

“It’s shameful that major fossil fuel producing countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Australia have so far failed to come forward with new pledges and risk catastrophe for themselves and vulnerable communities around the world. With countries both rich and poor committing to new climate plans, these rich polluters have no excuse to continue to bury their heads in the sand.”

Kramer’s comments come after Prime Minister Scott Morrison was blocked from speaking at the climate ambition summit, a decision that solidified a global opinion that Australia does not have climate policies that go far enough.

In a significant announcement, Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin shared that the Nordic country plans to be the world’s first “climate neutral welfare society”.

Marin said Finland is committed to becoming climate neutral by 2035 and has a plan to achieve negative net emissions soon after. She also said the Finland was committed to helping lead a global green transition.

“Finland has already communicated to the UNFCCC its long-term strategy in line with 2035 climate neutrality. And as a member of the European Union, Finland is part of the EU’s ambitious joint Nationally Determined Contribution,” Marin said.

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“We commit to scale up our climate finance, aiming at balanced mitigation and adaptation. Last year our contribution was record high. 

“We commit to promote sustainable food systems and fight against biodiversity loss. Renewable energy, nature-based solutions, circular economy, innovation and digital transformation are all key areas in Finland’s climate action.

“There is a clear risk that inequality between nations will increase as a cause of the Covid pandemic. We urge all of us to implement recovery measures in line with the UN Secretary General’s six principles. 

“And finally: We commit to share our experiences to facilitate the global green transition. By committing ourselves into a climate dialogue, we can build a common green future for our children and their children.”

Sudanese youth advisor to the UN secretary general Nisreen Elsaim said a coordinated global effort was necessary to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis for developing nations.

When asked by the moderator about giving marginalised people a voice on climate, Elsaim said: “The question is not how to give them a voice, the question is why do we still have marginalised people?”

“Doing the right thing is climate action and raising ambitions to reach the 1.5 degrees. It’s our only hope.

“Young people will rewrite history.”

Elsewhere, four hundred climate leaders have launched a campaign calling for greater accountability and transparency on gender equality in the COP26 leadership team, ahead of next year’s Glasgow UN Climate Change conference.

In an open letter organised by SHEChangesClimate and signed by the likes of actor Emma Thompson and singer Ellie Goulding, leaders are calling for women’s equal participation in the COP26 leadership team, which is currently dominated by men. 

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