C’bean ad­vised to prep for un­cer­tain future of US cli­mate re­sponse sup­port

Jamaica Gleaner - - BEAUTIFUL HOMES - Pe­tre Wil­liams-Raynor Gleaner Writer pwr.gleaner@gmail.com

WITH THE future and ex­tent of United States (US) fi­nan­cial and/or other sup­port of the global cli­mate change re­sponse un­sure, Caribbean is­lands have been cau­tioned to be pre­pared to go it alone.

For­mer head of the CARICOM Task Force on Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment, Dr James Fletcher, said there are cur­rently four sce­nar­ios for US sup­port un­der the pres­i­dency of Don­ald Trump.

“One is that the US con­tin­ues as is. I was very pleased with the state­ment made by Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry, who very clearly ex­pressed the sol­i­dar­ity of the US and the con­tin­ued commitment of the US to the Paris Agree­ment and to cli­mate ac­tion. That was very heart­en­ing, as well as some of the state­ments by the world lead­ers ... . That is the best-case sce­nario for us: that the in­com­ing Repub­li­can ad­min­is­tra­tion al­lows things to con­tinue as is,” he noted.

“There is also the op­tion that they with­draw from the Paris Agree­ment ... . The agree­ment re­quires that they wait three years af­ter hav­ing rat­i­fied be­fore they can of­fi­cially with­draw and af­ter that, there is still a one-year pe­riod be­fore the with­drawal can come into ef­fect. So in the event that the first thing Mr Trump does af­ter he is sworn in is to give in­struc­tions that he is with­draw­ing from the Paris Agree­ment, that prob­a­bly would not hap­pen un­til the end of his term, and I don’t know that po­lit­i­cally that would make much sense for him,” added Fletcher, who is also Saint Lu­cia’s for­mer min­is­ter of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.


There is, too, the op­tion of with­draw­ing from the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC).

“If he does that, then the US could be out of the UNFCCC in one year and by with­draw­ing from the UNFCCC, they also would au­to­mat­i­cally with­draw from the Paris Agree­ment and any agree­ments as­so­ci­ated with the con­ven­tion. It also would be re­liev­ing it­self of its obli­ga­tions to cap­i­talise the Green Cli­mate Fund and any­thing else...,” he said.

There is no ques­tion of the chal­lenge that would present. The US is a sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor to, for ex­am­ple, the work of the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change (IPCC) – the au­thor­ity on cli­mate change re­search – and to the UNFCCC.

The fourth sce­nario, Fletcher noted, is for the US to re­main as part of the process while mak­ing no mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion.

“So you are there, but you are re­ally not there – your par­tic­i­pa­tion is muted, your fund­ing is tem­pered and you are not as en­thu­si­as­tic as we have seen,” he ex­plained.

How­ever, Fletcher is hope­ful that “good sense will pre­vail and the state­ments made by can­di­date Trump will not be the poli­cies pur­sued by Pres­i­dent Trump”.


Still, the re­gion must be pre­pared.

“We have to be aware that an anti-cli­mate change agenda and a very heavy dose of cli­mate scep­ti­cism and cli­mate de­nial has been part of the agenda of the Repub­li­can Party for a while. In this is­sue, Pres­i­den­t­elect Trump is ac­tu­ally con­sis­tent with the poli­cies of his party. His party has never re­ally be­lieved in cli­mate change,” said the man who pro­vided tech­ni­cal ad­vice to CARICOM at this year’s cli­mate talks.


One party rep­re­sen­ta­tive present in Ja­maica ear­lier this month un­der­scored this point.

“I do be­lieve in cli­mate change; it’s called sum­mer, win­ter, spring and fall. It is not an­thro­pogenic. It is not man­made,” said Repub­li­can Mike Hill, mem­ber of the Florida House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, at a Gleaner Editor’s Fo­rum, con­vened un­der a US Em­bassyPanos Caribbean-51% Coali­tion ini­tia­tive to raise aware­ness about the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion process.

“Our cli­mate is be­ing af­fected pri­mar­ily by two ma­jor forces – our sun and our oceans. Me driv­ing my car to and from work is not chang­ing our cli­mate,” he added.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tive also re­vealed his ob­jec­tion to the Paris Agree­ment, which the US rat­i­fied on Septem­ber 3, as well as to the pro­vi­sion of fi­nanc­ing to sup­port cli­mate change adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion.

“It would be much too ex­pen­sive to not only the Amer­i­can tax­pay­ers, but the other coun­tries that is im­posed upon for what has been proven sci­en­tif­i­cally to be very min­i­mal im­prove­ment in a re­duc­tion of car­bon diox­ide into the air, which, by the way, is not a poi­son. Our plants need it (Car­bon diox­ide) in or­der to sur­vive,” he said.

Fletcher, mean­while, takes some so­lace in the fact that cli­mate change is big­ger than any one in­di­vid­ual, party or coun­try.

“You have 109 par­ties that had rat­i­fied this agree­ment (the Paris Agree­ment) within the space of one year and many more coun­tries are com­ing on board. There is a very strong commitment ... peo­ple are res­o­lute in their be­lief that firm ac­tion has to be taken,” he noted.

“So yes, los­ing the US would be a blow. I think it would be the United States send­ing a sig­nal that it does not care about small-is­land de­vel­op­ing states. And I think small-is­land de­vel­op­ing states would then have to re­cal­i­brate their po­si­tion where the United States is con­cerned,” he added.

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