The people of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean are in mourning after witnessing the devastation caused by Category 5 Hurricane Beryl.

This unprecedented Category 5 hurricane has wreaked havoc across the South-East Caribbean islands, including St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada.

Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Chair, Samoan Ambassador to the UN, Fatumanava Dr Pa’olelei Luteru said the storm’s devastating impact has sparked a crucial call for climate finance and action.

“It is with heavy hearts that we citizens of small island developing states (SIDS) witnessed the utter destruction wrought by Hurricane Beryl, the earliest category 5 hurricane ever recorded. Many of our friends, family, and colleagues, particularly in the South-East Caribbean islands including St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, are now struggling to imagine how they will pick up the pieces from this latest unprecedented disaster.

“This monstrous storm is still sweeping through the region and the full extent of the losses and damages are yet to be ascertained. But we already know from early reports that lives have been lost, homes have been ground to nothing. Shelter, security, memories, history – all gone,” Ambassador Luteru said in a statement.

For years, Luteru said SIDS have raised alarms about the increasing threat of climate change, urging the global community to take stronger action.

“As the people of small island developing states, the growing sense of hopelessness is intensifying. For decades we have been straining to ensure the world hears our calls for urgent, increased ambition on climate action. We have warned and warned that climate change impacts will only get worse. We have pleaded with bigger countries to commit to the essential pathways so our world can limit global warming to 1.5C and avoid the most severe impacts of climate change,” Ambassador Luteru said.

Dr Luteru emphasised the injustice faced by SIDS and he called for decisive action at COP29.

“Yet, we continue to be sacrificed on the frontlines of a climate crisis we did not cause. Our sea temperatures grow warmer, encouraging storms to strengthen at alarming speed and increasing the dire threat to our developing countries. The increased danger is evident for the world to see.

“It is critical that COP29 be a transformational moment in history. We demand to see clear action that will reduce emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. And a new climate finance goal that is fit for purpose for small island developing states is imperative. Developing countries must finally get a commitment from developed countries to provide efficient flows and access to the trillions of mostly concessional climate finance needed to recover from worsening climate change impacts and build resilience,” he explained.

Ambassador Luteru said SIDS will not continue to bear the burden of climate-induced disasters alone.

“We are making it clear – small island developing states refuse to keep being pushed down the rungs of the ladder of development, taking exorbitant loans and paying interest to fix damages inflicted upon us.

We refuse to be the sacrificial lambs paying the price for industrialised countries’ obsession with fossil fuel proliferation. If the world does not stand with SIDS now, it is only a matter of time before we are all lost,” Ambassador Luteru said.