Former Grenada minister tapped as next U.N. climate chief

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: News conference during pre-COP26 climate meeting in Milan

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The climate resilience minister for the Caribbean island nation of Grenada has been tapped to become the next United Nations climate chief, according to three sources familiar with the selection.

Simon Stiell, who had served as Grenada's minister for climate resilience and the environment until this year, will replace Patricia Espinosa, who finished her second, three-year term as executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in July.

The appointment was first reported by Climate Home News.

The UNFCCC declined to comment at this time.

Stiell has been a visible figure at U.N. climate negotiations, often calling for the world's largest polluters to set more ambitious climate goals and to deliver finance promised to vulnerable countries, including small island nations. That funding is key to preparing for future climate impacts including extreme temperatures, rising sea levels, more frequent storms and drought.

Stiell would take the helm of the UNFCCC a few months before Egypt hosts the next U.N. climate conference, COP27, the three diplomatic sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to announce the news.

COP27 will take place after a year of global economic uncertainty and geopolitical issues have led countries to backslide on their climate pledges.

With the summit being held on the African continent, diplomats from climate vulnerable countries plan to push for a focus on loss and damage, which would force historical emitters in North America and Europe to compensate developing countries for economic losses and damages resulting from climate-related weather extremes.

Stiell told Reuters in an interview last year that the G20 group of the world's most powerful countries "generate 80% of global emissions and constitute 85% of global GDP. They have the wealth and technology to act."

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Katy Daigle and Josie Kao)