Four day sum­mit on cli­mate change closes

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Two high-level meet­ings hosted by the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) came to an end on Thurs­day, Jan­uary 29 at the Bay Gar­dens Ho­tel sit­u­ated in the north – the coun­try’s pre­mier ho­tel belt. The gath­er­ing brought to­gether a team of ne­go­tia­tors and min­is­ters re­spon­si­ble for plac­ing the re­gion’s con­cerns on cli­mate change at the 21st Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties (COP21) of the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris in De­cem­ber of this year.

Fresh from cli­mate dis­cus­sions in Lima, Peru, the first as­sem­bly on Jan­uary 26-27 saw the re­gion’s ne­go­tia­tors sift through mounds of per­ti­nent in­for­ma­tion so as to ar­rive at the most ap­pro­pri­ate pro­pos­als that would arm min­is­ters to take on the hu­mon­gous chal­lenge that lies ahead.

Ide­ally, the ne­go­tia­tors’ fo­rum was meant to en­sure that the re­gion’s min­is­ters are ap­prised of the crit­i­cal po­lit­i­cal choices that will have to be made in the up­com­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions.

When the min­is­ters joined the dis­cus­sions on Jan­uary 28 and 29, the ne­go­tia­tors, who had re­mained far be­yond the pre­scribed closing time on both days, were in high spir­its and equipped to brief them. Min­is­ters were in­tro­duced to the func­tion­ing and op­er­a­tions of the UNFCCC ne­go­ti­at­ing pro­cesses and the ar­eas that re­quire min­is­te­rial in­ter­ven­tion.

The sta­tus of cli­mate change ne­go­ti­a­tions, in­clud­ing key is­sues un­der ne­go­ti­a­tions, key de­ci­sions al­ready taken, and out­stand­ing de­ci­sions to be taken come De­cem­ber 2015 were dis­cussed. More­over, min­is­ters were briefed on the pri­or­ity po­lit­i­cal ac­tions re­quired at the level of the state which would in turn ac­cel­er­ate na­tional and re­gional re­sponses to cli­mate change. Ac­tions in­clude, but are not limited to, dis­cus­sions on na­tional determined con­tri­bu­tions, cli­mate fi­nance, na­tional adap­ta­tion plans, the tech­nol­ogy mech­a­nism and the Ky­oto Pro­to­col.

Speak­ing of the sig­nif­i­cance of the meet­ings, Min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment, En­vi­ron­ment, En­ergy, Science & Tech­nol­ogy, and Chair of the min­is­ters’ fo­rum, Se­na­tor the Hon­or­able, Dr. James Fletcher, said cli­mate fi­nance is a ma­jor is­sue in the ne­go­ti­a­tions for cli­mate change. He com­mented: “There is a pledge of one hun­dred bil­lion US dol­lars’ worth of cli­mate fi­nance by the year 2020 and one hun­dred bil­lion dol­lars ev­ery year there­after and we’re very far short of this. At the last pledg­ing meet­ing for the Green Cli­mate Fund (GCF), I think we were just past ten bil­lion dol­lars. Now granted the GCF is not the only source of fi­nanc­ing for cli­mate fi­nance, but we’re still very far short of one hun­dred bil­lion dol­lars. We want to see a path­way that will get us to that one hun­dred bil­lion dol­lars be­cause it is very im­por­tant for us.”

Dr. Fletcher, one of the more prom­i­nent voices and ad­vo­cates for the Al­liance of Small Is­land States (AO­SIS) and the Small Is­land De­vel­op­ing States (SIDS) at the level of in­ter­na­tional cli­mate change ne­go­ti­a­tions, is of the think­ing that in­vest­ments in var­i­ous sec­tors such as tourism, in­fra­struc­ture and health will al­low Saint Lu­cia a mea­sure of re­silience and the abil­ity to with­stand some of the im­pacts of cli­mate change. But there are ar­eas, says Dr. Fletcher, where adap­ta­tion is not pos­si­ble due to ir­re­versible loss and dam­age. As an ex­am­ple, the min­is­ter points to coral reefs that are dis­ap­pear­ing be­cause of in­creased sea sur­face tem­per­a­tures and ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion.

Not­ing the time­li­ness and suc­cess of the meet­ing, and the fact that cli­mate change poses a real threat to the liveli­hoods of ev­ery cit­i­zen, Dr. Fletcher called on his col­league min­is­ters within the wider re­gion to guar­an­tee una­nim­ity in prepa­ra­tion and de­ter­mi­na­tion to ar­tic­u­late the po­si­tion of CARICOM cit­i­zens at the up­com­ing 21st Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties (COP21) of the UNFCCC in Paris in De­cem­ber.

Mean­time a call has been made for more public aware­ness at all lev­els and across the re­gion to en­sure that cit­i­zens, gov­ern­ment and non-state ac­tors un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate the real threat of cli­mate change.

The im­pend­ing meet­ing is re­garded as crit­i­cal to small states as they strive to at­tain and main­tain com­mit­ments from de­vel­oped coun­tries— com­mit­ments that coun­tries like Saint Lu­cia will be af­forded es­sen­tial as­sis­tance, fi­nan­cial and oth­er­wise, that will en­sure the sus­tain­able devel­op­ment of its peo­ple and its ecosys­tems.

Dr. James Fletcher speak­ing at Cli­mate Change

meet­ing.

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