Ja­maica pre­pares for bat­tle in UN cli­mate talks

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL - By

Pe­tre Wil­liams-Raynor (Ja­maica Gleaner)

FACED WITH the threat of wa­ter and food in­se­cu­rity, com­pro­mised hu­man health and ex­treme weather events as­so­ci­ated with cli­mate change, Ja­maica ap­pears ready to do bat­tle for legally bind­ing com­mit­ments to green­house gas (GHG) emis­sion cuts from world lead­ers.

And they are not alone. Other CARICOM coun­tries and small-is­land de­vel­op­ing states (SIDS) - them­selves counted among the most vul­ner­a­ble to cli­mate change, which is fu­elled by emis­sions of GHGs, such as car­bon diox­ide and meth­ane - look to be in on the ac­tion. “If coun­tries don’t make sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tions in emis­sions, then we can­not be a part of it (a new in­ter­na­tional agree­ment on cli­mate change). That is how se­ri­ous we are,” said Clif­ford Mahlung, ca­pac­ity build­ing co­or­di­na­tor for the Al­liance of Small Is­land States (AO­SIS) and for­mer lead ne­go­tia­tor for Ja­maica.

He was speak­ing at a work­shop for jour­nal­ists, put on by Panos Caribbean and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung or­gan­i­sa­tion last week Wed­nes­day, ahead of Ja­maica’s na­tional cli­mate change con­sul­ta­tions, held last Thurs­day.

CARICOM coun­tries form part of the 44-mem­ber AO­SIS. To­gether, they ac­count for some 20 per cent of mem­ber­ship to the United Na­tions, 28 per cent of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and five per cent of the global pop­u­la­tion, mak­ing them a force with which to con­tend at cli­mate ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Later this month, CARICOM is to meet to strate­gise around the up­com­ing cli­mate talks to be held in Lima, Peru, that are in­tended to ad­vance work to­wards the new in­ter­na­tional agree­ment on cli­mate change to be signed in Paris next year.

“The up­com­ing meet­ing of min­is­ters and ne­go­tia­tors is to bring more clar­ity to the is­sues that will have to be ad­dressed in the agree­ment and ba­si­cally to un­der­stand the views of other ne­go­ti­at­ing blocs and how we can meet them along some con­tin­uum that will en­able us to reach an agree­ment,” head of Ja­maica’s Cli­mate Change Di­vi­sion, Al­bert Da­ley, told The Gleaner.

“Ne­go­tia­tors will also have the op­por­tu­nity to get clear on the is­sues and com­po­nents we should be gun­ning for in the agree­ment and to un­der­stand what should be our ‘red line’ - things we should not give up on - and the things we should ne­go­ti­ate around,” he added.

The value of such a meet­ing was noted by head of the CARICOM Task­force on Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment, James Fletcher, at the Caribbean Wa­ter and Waste­water Con­fer­ence in the Ba­hamas last month.

At the time, Fletcher - also St. Lu­cia’s min­is­ter of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment, en­ergy, sci­ence, and tech­nol­ogy - said he an­tic­i­pated no chal­lenges to CARICOM re­al­is­ing, at this month’s meet­ing, con­sen­sus on the is­sues of im­por­tance to mem­bers.

In ad­di­tion to bind­ing emis­sion cuts, he high­lighted a num­ber of other things - all of which re­flect Ja­maica’s pri­or­i­ties - on which they would like move­ment in Lima.

“We want to see more ac­tion on loss and dam­age, which is some­thing that is very im­por­tant to us. We [also] want to see con­crete move­ment on cli­mate fi­nanc­ing. We have al­ways said that we are liv­ing on the front line of cli­mate change and we can’t af­ford to wait for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to get those var­i­ous mech­a­nisms in place for us to get fi­nanc­ing,” Fletcher said. Mean­while, he in­di­cated that their ef­forts would be aided by the Caribbean demon­strat­ing lead­er­ship and mak­ing good use of lob­by­ing.

“We do not just op­er­ate as Caribbean SIDS; we also op­er­ate un­der the um­brella of AO­SIS and we ne­go­ti­ate as G77, a much wider group that also in­cludes the African coun­tries. So I think what we have to do is to demon­strate lead­er­ship, con­tinue to ar­tic­u­late our se­ri­ous con­cerns and, op­er­at­ing at the var­i­ous ne­go­ti­at­ing lev­els, get the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to un­der­stand the ur­gency of our sit­u­a­tion,” he rea­soned.

On lob­by­ing, Fletcher said: “We have to do it at the level of our per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the UN.

“So we give them the man­date to have dis­cus­sions with their coun­ter­parts from the de­vel­oped coun­tries and in all ne­go­ti­at­ing fora that we find our­selves in, to cause that dis­cus­sion to start so that by the time you get to Lima, you are not op­er­at­ing from ground zero,” he ex­plained.

Clif­ford Mahlung, ca­pac­ity build­ing co­or­di­na­tor for the Al­liance of Small Is­land Sates (AO­SIS) and for­mer lead

ne­go­tia­tor for Ja­maica.

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