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Do or Die?

February 09 2015 - by Dr. David Lee, CLP's Environment Specialist

Climate-Change-3The Climate Change Conference, also known as the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol took place from 1st to 14th December, 2014 in Lima, Peru.  

A report carried in the Daily Gleaner,indicates that there has been no agreement on two key issues for the Caribbean Region.  Specifically, there were:

  1. No tangible commitments from the developed countries to decrease greenhouse gas emissions; and
  2. There was no agreement that would establish predictable financing for adaptation strategies for those countries most affected by the impacts of climate change (including sea level rise)

What does this mean for the Caribbean? 

Welcome-to-Climate-ChangeIn the case of the first issue, the failure to secure the targeted commitments means that there will be no let-up in climate change.  This comes against the background of 2014 being the warmest year on record and by all accounts the rate of global warming and sea level rise appears to be increasing. Supporting evidence for this conclusion can be reviewed by clicking the links below:

  1. 2014 - Hottest Year On Record
  2. Science Environment

In the case of the second area where the delegates failed to reach agreement, the end result of said failure is that the most affected nations, which include the countries of the Caribbean, have no funds to implement the significant adaptation strategies that would allow them to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. The problem is further exacerbated when viewed in the context of nations still recovering from the impact of the global financial crisis and the realization that the size of the public purse could be significantly depleted with the passing of the next hurricane. 

It is intended that the countries of the world will meet again in Paris, France in December 2015 to finalise a new universal climate change agreement. This new agreement according to the UNFCC is aimed at putting the world on track to a low-carbon, sustainable future while keeping a global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius.  I would suggest that this lofty aim is not possible without agreement on the two issues mentioned above.

The Caribbean got very little out of Peru.  If the Caribbean can rally in Paris and achieve the necessary agreement that benefits the region it would take a lot of work and unprecedented cooperation to make it happen.  Our lives and our livelihoods may depend on it.

What would it take for the Caribbean to pool their votes to benefit all the countries in the Region? Will there be a Caribbean Caucus formed ahead of the Paris talks?  Will we speak and vote with one voice?  Will we be efficient and effective in building the relationships, within and outside the region, in order to achieve successful negotiations?

What will you do to encourage your national climate change negotiators to liaise with their counterparts so that we can speak in a united voice in the best interests of the Caribbean?   What are the implications for our national and regional survival if we fail to do so?  When it comes to climate change, do you accept the argument that we are at the point where we are facing do or die decisions?