Caribbean environment ministers were gearing up for another round of marathon talks this evening, in what would be the final effort to reach consensus on a new climate change agreement before the conference ends tomorrow.
Negotiations continued into the wee hours of this morning, as the region appealed to larger countries to recognise their vulnerability to global warming, as well as their ability to adapt.
A statement issued by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat following the talks indicated that the region was not pleased with the text of the second draft agreement.
There is still disagreement on cuts to global temperature rises, and CARICOM has made it clear that some of the options that have been put forward were not acceptable.
“For example, option one, to hold the temperature increase to two degrees Celsius is not acceptable as it has been established by the Structured Expert Dialogue that two degrees is too high. We therefore should not be spending any more time considering it.
“The goal should be 1.5 and . . . we want to emphasise however that the provision in option two that recognises the higher risks at 1.5 is not a viable option as this is not a goal or an objective. It is an expression of sympathy and we are not here begging for sympathy; we are here because climate change threatens our survival and economic stability and we are seeking solutions under this threat.”
The Chairman of CARICOM’s Regional Coordinating Committee on Climate Change, Dr James Fletcher, described the goal of two degrees Celsius as “a business as usual agreement”, which the region cannot accept.
“Since everybody has spoken so eloquently about wanting this to be an ambitious agreement, the only way we can leave here with an ambitious agreement is an agreement that either speaks to the temperature goal being below 1.5 degrees Celsius or retains two degrees Celsius as a temperature goal but nuances it by saying well below two degrees Celsius and rapidly scaling up efforts to get to 1.5 degrees. That is the minimum that we can live with,” said Fletcher, who is also St Lucia’s Minister of Sustainable Development.
CARICOM also noted that the draft agreement does not take into consideration the special circumstances of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
“We want to emphasise that these special circumstances are real and have been recognised by the international community/world leaders in multiple fora. This reality is non-negotiable. The process here cannot refute what is abundantly evident.
“Likewise it is an undisputed fact, recognized under the Financial Mechanism of the Convention, no less, that SIDS have specific challenges to accessing finance especially for adaptation, and to accessing appropriate technology given our capacity and scale of needs. It would be a grave injustice for those who are bearing the brunt of the adverse effects of climate change and who are very likely to have to pay the ultimate price, to now be treated with such benign neglect in this text,” the statement said.
Another area of concern, Fletcher said, was the need to include provisions for loss and damage as a result of climate change in the draft agreement.
“There was absolutely nothing put on loss and damage because there was just so much disagreement on loss and damage. There is a US proposal, from what I gather, there is an LDC (Least Developed Countries) proposal, G77 has come very forcefully and said that it rejects any possibility of an exclusionary clause that says there would be no liability and compensation. So there is a significant gap-closing that must take place where loss and damage is concerned,” he noted.
However Barbados’ Minister of Environment Dr Denis Lowe said today he was confident that developed countries will agree to a 1.5 degree Celsius cap on further increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
“The 1.5 (degrees) issue is gaining great support and we feel that it is clear that we are going to get it in the text. It may not come in its absolute form and I think that based on the submissions of other countries of G77, of China, of the Europeans, a strong statement by Britain, I believe that we’re going to get that,” Dr Lowe said.
A new draft agreement was issued to countries present at the conference late this evening, and it was hoped that all parties could consent to a final document by the time the summit concludes.