Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has welcomed last weekend’s historic adoption of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
After several years of discussions and intense negotiations between November 30 and December 12 this year, 195 nations approved the agreement in the French capital on Saturday.
Stuart, who is chairman of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM), acknowledged that countries in the region were already feeling the effects of climate change. He pointed to recent catastrophic events in St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and The Bahamas, which he said demonstrated the intensification of climatic events and unusual weather patterns.
“The Community welcomes this globally binding commitment to combat climate change.
“We believe that the actions and investment approved in the agreement will bring us closer to the goal of maintaining global average temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius and along a clear trajectory downwards towards 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
“That agreement will also help to realize the goals of lower greenhouse gas emissions, greater resilience and sustainable development, especially among the small island and low-lying coastal developing states, SIDS, with the most vulnerable populations, such as the countries of the Caribbean.
“We determinedly and successfully promoted recognition of the special circumstances and vulnerabilities of SIDS, which are among the lowest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, but are the most threatened by climate change”.
In his statement Stuart also applauded the efforts of the CARICOM negotiating team in Paris, saying the region’s interests were strongly represented in a focused and coordinated manner by Heads of Government, ministers, the CARICOM Secretary General and his staff, and a team of experienced and skilled negotiators led by Dr James Fletcher.
“We are satisfied that our strong advocacy helped to ensure that the agreement reflected the region’s position on our major red line issues.
The region’s campaign was built around the slogan, 1.5 to Stay Alive.
It received energetic support from several groups and organizations, including youth and cultural artistes.
CARICOM was also at the forefront of the successful campaign for inclusion of ‘Loss and Damage’ as a distinct element in the agreement, which goes beyond adaptation and addresses irreversible losses and permanent impact on CARICOM and other SIDS, resulting from human induced climate change. The team also advocated for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD-Plus).
“The agreement reflects the region’s position on financing support for the implementation activities in SIDS, including a baseline contribution of 100 billion USD by 2020 and future additional provisions. This will significantly strengthen our capacity to attain the ambitious goals of climate change adaptation.
“We also applaud the proposed international cooperation on climate change-friendly technologies and capacity building in developing countries as another adaptation measure.”
Stuart also congratulated the Government of France for “guiding an inclusive and transparent process in which small states, like those in CARICOM, had a respected voice alongside bigger, more powerful nations.
“The task now is to ensure that the provisions of this legally-binding agreement are implemented,” noted Stuart, while calling on the international community to retain “the energizing and uplifting spirit of Paris in the process going forward.
“The world expects no less,” he added.