No ratification of Paris Agreement before next year
THE MINISTRY of Economic Growth and Job Creation has sought to quiet concerns over Jamaica’s failure to ratify the Paris Agreement, ahead of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, being held in Marrakech this month.
“We will be at the COP, and we negotiate as a part of a block, so we will still be able in the different bodies – the Group of 77 and China and the Alliance of Small Island States – to have our voices be heard there. So we will still have an opportunity to influence,” said Colonel Oral Khan, chief technical director in the ministry.
“So yes, we wanted to be there as one that has ratified, but because of the processes that we have to go through, we are regrettably not there,” he added.
Khan’s response comes in the wake of a recent caution from Dr James Fletcher, Saint Lucia’s former minister of sustainable development and former head of the CARICOM Task Force on Sustainable Development.
“Given that the Paris Agreement will enter into force in the Marrakech meeting ... if you haven’t ratified the Paris Agreement, then really you cannot be at the table determining rules and procedures and everything else,” Fletcher told The Gleaner at the recent Caribbean Renewable Energy Conference in Miami.
“If you have not ratified the agreement, then you don’t have a voice at the meeting. There will be CARICOM countries there (who share similar challenges) and who The Jonathan Guy-Gladding painting titled 1.5 to Stay Alive, which is counted among the artistic outputs from the Caribbean’s 1.5 to Stay Alive campaign.
will speak on your behalf, but I don’t think it is a position you want to be in because you cannot articulate your own concerns,” he added.
Against this background, Fletcher – well respected in climate change negotiating circles
and who was patron of the 1.5 to Stay Alive campaign run by regional partners, including Panos Caribbean, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and the Caribbean Development Bank, last year and into this year – urged those islands James Fletcher
that had not yet ratified to do so.
Jamaica is one of five CARICOM member states that have not yet done so. The others are Haiti, Montserrat, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
Meanwhile, Fletcher has itemised significant emissions reduction and the freeing of climate finance flows as key areas on which Caribbean islands – counted among those most vulnerable to climate change, which threatens extreme weather events, the likes of Hurricane Matthew, which ravaged several islands recently – should push for action at this COP.
“... the situation is ominous; the projections are all showing that our area will be one of the
ARMED WITH comments from the Office of the Attorney General (AG), Jamaica is looking at next year to ratify the Paris Agreement, which sets the framework for the global response to climate change.
“We have received the comments of the AG, which point out the obligations the country would have under the agreement. We now have to complete a series of consultations with the various stakeholders that would have a critical part to play in meeting those obligations,” revealed Colonel Oral Khan, chief technical director in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.
“So we are going to be entering into that period of consultation before we seek the formal approval to ratify. We do not anticipate any hurdles; it is just now a process that we have to go through to ensure that we do not leave anybody behind. When we ratify, everybody must understand their obligations,” he added. Among other things, Jamaica will need to satisfy the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) requirement for nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which fuel global warming.
“We already submitted our INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) and we are to confirm they are to move from INDCs to NDCs. So we have to formally notify the UNFCCC of our NDCs,” Khan explained.
Minori Russell contributed her own musical talents to the 1.5 to Stay Alive campaign.
hardest hit by climate change and we don’t have the funds to adapt,” he noted.
“We are really are saying to our residents that they are in for a very bleak future when we should be saying, having signed the (Paris) agreement, we can now assure that the climate finance is going to flow and action is going to be taken to reduce greenhouse gases to get us close to 1.5,” he added.
“We are not in a good place where bending that temperature curve is concerned and making finance more readily available to SIDS (small island developing states) is one way to get there,” he said.
Among other things, the Paris Agreement seeks to hold “the increase in the global
There are, too, a number of procedural matters to deal with “such as some reporting requirements that will have to be met”, he noted. Jamaica’s adaptation strategy and action plans are among those items that will need to be reported on. Already, the island has identified a number of priority sectors for these plans, including water, health, tourism, human settlement and coastal resources, in addition to agriculture, forestry and energy.
“We will have to keep the UNFCCC updated on our steps to implement and in preparing those annual reports that we have to make,” Khan said.
Aaron Silk was one of the artistes who contributed their creative energies to the 1.5 to Stay Alive campaign.
average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.
It was a goal fought hard for by Caribbean islands who put the weight of negotiators such as Fletcher and the creative energies of musicians and artists from across the region – including Jamaicans Aaron Silk and Minori Russell, Saint Lucian poet Kendel Hippolyte and artist Jonathan Gladding – behind the 1.5 To Stay Alive campaign.
At the same time, the chief technical director indicated that ministries, such as the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, will have “a significant role to play”.
“A lot of our targets in the NDCs are things that fall under the energy policy in terms of switching to renewable energy and so on,” Khan noted. Once the consultations are finalised, they will report to Cabinet for the required approval to proceed with the instruments of ratification.
“We have to satisfy the Cabinet that we have engaged all the stakeholders so they have a fair appreciation of what is involved,” Khan said. He has, however, cautioned that the process will take some time.
“We can’t just wish it and it is done,” Khan told The Gleaner. “The time of the year we are in and approaching and with members of our Climate Change Division participating in the COP (the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Morocco), that kind of slows our process down in terms of our resources to undertake and lead in some of the consultations.”
Added Khan: “So for the month of November, we are going to be pretty much tied up and the environment in December will not be conducive to consultations. So we could end up seeing the process drag into next year.”