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Climate Change Revolution

Call made for CARICOM leaders to remain consistent with climate change negotiations

Linda Straker, eTN Staff Writer  Sep 16, 2009

Chairman of the Caribbean Community, Bharrat Jagdeo, has call on Caribbean Community (Caricom) ministers attending at a special meeting on climate change and development in Saint Lucia to remain consistent in the negotiations leading up to the United Nations’ climate change conference set for Copenhagen in December. He also urged them to honor the spirit of the July 2009 Liliendaal Declaration on Climate Change and Development.

The Guyana’s Agriculture minister, Robert Persaud, delivered the chairman’s remarks on Tuesday, September 15, to the Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change and Development in preparation for the 15th Meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Jagdeo stated that CARICOM was at a critical milestone on the road to a new ambitious climate change agreement. He said that had the potential to go down in history as the agreement that enabled the global community to change course from the destructive path had taken.

However, he made the observation that the UNFCCC negotiations remained in deadlock because of lack of consensus on critical issues and expressed concerns that even at the level of the groupings such as G77 and AOSIS, disagreements persisted.

Against this background, he cautioned CARICOM negotiators to not allow difference of opinions to weaken the community’s cause. “We share a common vulnerability and therefore we need to act in a united front,” he said.

He joined CARICOM secretary-general Edwin Carrington and Saint Lucia Prime Minister Stephenson King in underscoring the importance of maintaining a resolute position for greater reduction in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions as this, he averred was crucial “if we are to avert catastrophic global climate change.”

Referring to the Liliendaal Declaration on Climate Change and Development issued by the 30th Conference of Heads of Government in July 2009, the CARICOM chairman stated that the Declaration must serve as a useful and uncompromising guide for negotiations. “The primacy of the Liliendaal Declaration on Climate Change and Development cannot be overstated in this process and our positions must be consistent,” he asserted.

Jagdeo called on the Ministerial Meeting, which has benefited from the support of the Spanish government, to give priority to five critical strategic and policy areas, chief of which was Adaptation to Climate Change. He further recommended a multi-window insurance facility, as well as adequate and predictable financing for adaptation and asserted that those must be made available to the Caribbean as soon as possible.

The chairman stressed the need for the Caribbean to increase its call for enhanced investment and action in research and development, diffusion and transfer of technology for adaptation, including the removal of barriers that, he said, existed in overly stringent intellectual property rights.

With regard to mitigation, he said that the community needed to be steadfast to its call for deep emission cuts based on scientific findings.

“We cannot allow for 450 part per million (ppm) or 2 degrees C temperature rise to be agreed. We must push for 350 ppm or 1.5 degrees C if we want to rest assured that we are guarding our vulnerable coastal areas against devastation from rising sea levels.”

The fourth priority area, according to the chairman, was the adoption of what he described as a “forest based solution to mitigation.” He cited Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy - a typical mechanism to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) – as a critical component in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and as such, a model for developing countries.

Jagdeo called for a “strong and unyielding position” on a shared vision on climate change, noting that the basic principles underlying such a vision should include common but differentiated responsibilities, historical responsibility, “polluter-pays” principle and the precautionary principle.

He urged the community to work together to give a strong cohesive mandate to the negotiators in the critical weeks ahead as reflected in the Liliendaal Declaration on Climate Change and Development.

The prime minister of Saint Lucia who has lead responsibility for Sustainable Development in the Quasi-Cabinet of the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government and CARICOM secretary-general Edwin Carrington also addressed the ministerial conference, which concluded on Wednesday, September 16.

The conference provided a forum for the political directorate and other policy makers within CARICOM to become involved in the negotiations processes; appreciate a better understanding of the key issues at stake and be able to give strong support to the positions of the negotiating teams.

Call made for CARICOM leaders to remain consistent with climate change negotiations
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