October 2016

Prime Minister Andrew Holness addresses the opening ceremony of the Organisation of Caribbean Utility Regulators Conference in Montego Bay, St James, yesterday.

Asserting that “we must get it right”, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has urged utility regulators to take seriously their role in helping the Caribbean ease its dependence on oil and embrace technologies and renewables key to energy diversification.

The regulators’ role, he said, is linked to the creation of partnerships with investors who want returns, consumers and governments pushing for the economic development of their countries.

Holness was addressing the opening ceremony for the 14 Organisation Of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR) conference at the Secrets Resorts & Spa in Montego Bay, St James.

A variety of issues are set for discussion over three days by the more than 160 regional and international experts.

However, Holness, noting the importance of energy to the region’s development and the current high levels of dependence on oil, made it clear that the issue should be at the top of the agenda.

“Energy is clearly the mission-critical frontier,” he said, pointing to the role of Jamaica’s Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) in helping Jamaica introduce liquefied natural gas (LNG) as part of the energy mix.

“The OUR approved the funding for the conversion of the Jamaica Public Service Bogue plant to enable the move from heavy dependence on oil to diversifying to LNG. I applaud the OUR in this regard for being a strong regulator and helping to make this move a reality – to take Jamaica on this new platform. This is a great example of collaboration among Government, regulator, and utility,” Holness added.

A shipment of LNG supplies arrived in Jamaica last week Saturday, and in two weeks, is expected to be in full use.

TAKE ROLE SERIOUSLY

The prime minister emphasised that regulators have to take seriously their role in helping the Caribbean Community implement the Caribbean energy policy that was approved in 2013.

That policy promotes a shift in sustainable energy through increased use of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, among other things.

“OOCUR, you have your work cut out for you as not only is Jamaica focused on diversifying its energy mix, so, too, is CARICOM, and we must get it right in the region. Access to affordable energy is a necessary requirement for addressing sustainable development in the region,” Holness said.

He also argued that while there is need for partnership with all stakeholders in the provision of utilities, the providers must insist on self-regulation to ensure that standards are upheld and service delivery is at a high quality.

Earlier, Albert Gordon, chairman of OOCUR, said the conference was happening at a time when regulation was becoming more important for sustainable development.

The conference schedule has placed heavy emphasis on renewable energy and investment.

Jamaica and many other small-island states of the Caribbean are heavy importers of oil, which increases their vulnerabilities to external shocks such as sharp oil price rises. Except for Trinidad and Tobago, the only net exporter of oil and natural gas, all other Caribbean countries are net oil importers.

“For importers other than Suriname, around 87 per cent of primary energy consumed is in the form of imported petroleum products. Imports are mostly diesel fuel for electricity generation, gasolene for transportation, and liquefied petroleum gas used as cooking gas in households,” experts noted in a paper titled ‘Caribbean Energy: Macro-Related Challenges’ released in March by the International Monetary Fund.

This, they said, has led to consistently high electricity rates, which affects the competitiveness and development of CARICOM nations.

Gleaner

Republican Walter ‘Mike’ Hill makes a point during The Gleaner’s Editors’ Forum on Tuesday. Next to him is Democrat Moises ‘Moe’ Vela, and Judith Weddeburn of the 51% Coalition.

Jamaica and the Caribbean’s bid for a secure climate future is likely to be impacted by the outcome of the November 8 United States (US) presidential election.

However, whether the impact will be negative or positive remains to be seen, though the sentiments of representatives of the Republican and Democratic parties – present in Jamaica this week – provides an indication of the possibilities.

Republican Walter ‘Mike’ Hill, member of the Florida House of Representatives, has denied the existence of climate change.

“I do believe in climate change; it’s called summer, winter, spring and fall. It is not anthropogenic; it is not man-made,” he told The Gleaner‘s Editors’ Forum on Tuesday afternoon.

“Our climate is being affected primarily by two major forces – our sun and our oceans. Me driving my car to and from work is not changing our climate,” he added.

Hill went further to reveal his aversion to the Paris Agreement – which the US ratified on September 3 – and to the provision of financing to support climate change adaptation and mitigation, whether in the Caribbean or elsewhere.

REPUBLICAN ‘NO’

“I would say no to signing that agreement (the Paris Agreement) because it would be much too expensive to not only the American taxpayers, but the other countries that are imposed upon for what has been proven scientifically to be very minimal improvement in a reduction of carbon dioxide into the air, which, by the way, is not a poison. Our plants need it (carbon dioxide) in order to survive,” he said.

The Paris Agreement was brokered last year at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in France.

The agreement – which is to come into force on November 4 – has as its goal: “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.

Democrat Moises ‘Moe’ Vela, who served in President Barack Obama’s administration as the director of administration and senior advisor in the Office of Vice-president Joe Biden, was of a different view from Hill.

“Senator [Hillary] Clinton has long been on the record, as I have been, as a matter of fact; we respect and we recognise the intelligence of our scientists from around the world. You don’t have to read 500 scientific reports to understand climate change is truly impacting our world,” he said.

“Secretary Clinton will continue to work with other leaders around the world as she has as secretary of state and as senator … to recognise the impact that climate change is having on our world,” Vela predicted.

CHILDREN OF THE WORLD

“I personally don’t have children, but I care enough about the children of the world, and I know she does as well… to give them an Earth that is sustainable … . We have got to address climate change so that the children of the world have a brighter future,” he said.

While admitting to having no authority to speak for Clinton “on the finance matter”, Vela said: “I would hope that the financials would flow from the United States to address climate change in the Caribbean basin and around the world.”

Meanwhile, Hurricane Matthew hammered the Caribbean recently, leaving hundreds dead, billions of dollars in infrastructural damage, and despair in countries such as Haiti, Cuba and The Bahamas – a grim reminder of the threat climate change presents to especially small-island states.

That threat includes not only warmer temperatures, but also rising sea levels, coastal erosion and extreme weather events, including more frequent and/or intense hurricanes and droughts.

On the outcome of the US presidential election and the implications for local efforts to bolster climate change readiness, chief technical director in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Colonel Oral Khan said the island would wait to see.

“I think the US elections have generated a lot of interest beyond just questions of climate change, and we cannot escape taking note of the some of the things that are being said, but we will await the outcome, and through diplomatic channels, we will continue to press for what the Paris Agreement calls for,” he told The Gleaner.

AWARENESS INITIATIVE

Hill and Vela are in Jamaica this week as part of an initiative of the United States Embassy in Kingston and the 51% Coalition, with Panos Caribbean as implementing partner.

The initiative is designed to “raise public awareness and advance understanding of the US presidential election process, with an examination of lessons and implications for Jamaica and the Caribbean, in the interest of responsible and democratic governance,” according to information out of Panos.

In addition to Hill and Vela being present on the island for a round of media interviews and public engagements, there have also been a series of Dinner and a Debate viewing events. Those events saw Jamaicans exposed to the cut and thrust of the US presidential debates between Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Party candidate Donald Trump.

Gleaner

CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque (left) with Dr James Fletcher, who led CARICOM negotiators, in discussion with regional heads of government and ministers at the Paris Climate Talks last year.

With the Marrakech climate change talks now only weeks away, the few CARICOM member states that have not yet ratified the Paris Agreement – Jamaica among them – have been urged to do so.

The appeal has come from Dr James Fletcher, former head of the CARICOM Task Force on Sustainable Development.

He predicted that the failure to ratify will see those islands running the risk of not having a say in the first meeting of the parties to the global deal next month.

“Given that the Paris Agreement will enter into force in the Marrakech meeting … if you haven’t ratified the Paris Agreement, then really you cannot be at the table determining rules and procedures and everything else,” he cautioned.

“If you have not ratified the agreement, then you don’t have a voice at the meeting. There will be CARICOM countries there (who share similar challenges) and who will speak on your behalf, but I don’t think it is a position you want to be in because you cannot articulate your own concerns,” added Fletcher, also the former minister of sustainable development for St Lucia.

Ten CARICOM countries have so far ratified the agreement. They include Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, The Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

They are among the 81 countries to have ratified the agreement, which prescribes the way forward for the planet in its battle against the changing climate.

Caribbean islands and other small-island developing states (SIDS) are counted among those most vulnerable to climate threats.

Those threats include extreme weather events, the likes of Hurricane Matthew, which barrelled across the region recently, leaving in its wake death and destruction in places such as Haiti, Cuba and The Bahamas.

In Haiti alone, the death toll is registered at more than 900, with millions of dollars in loss and damage to infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Fletcher – a respected regional statesman reputed for his work in climate change and other development issues, including energy – is buoyed with the progress on the Paris Agreement. Still, he cautions that there are still miles to go to where the region needs to get in its readiness for climate change.

“We are very encouraged by how quickly this agreement has come into force … It really is awesome for me that the community has rallied to this cause and there seems to be an urgency that, at least philosophically, we need to move in a particular direction,” he said.

LACK OF URGENCY

“What is worrying to me is that there does not seem to be an urgency where climate action is concerned. If you look at the level of ambition for the level of greenhouse gases, it is still not taking us below 2.7 degrees Celsius. Nobody has come out and said, for example, that they will reduce their emissions by another 25 per cent,” Fletcher added.

This, he noted, is what is required if the world is to realise one of the objectives of the Paris Agreement, to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.

“I would like to see greater pledges from major emitters to reduce their emissions and more pledges where finance is concerned,” the former minister noted.

“There is a lot that has to be done where SIDS are concerned. (We are in a time when we) have hurricanes hitting multiple countries and travelling in pairs. So the situation is ominous; the projections are all showing that our area will be one of the hardest hit by climate change, and we don’t have the funds to adapt,” he said.

“We are really are saying to our residents that they are in for a very bleak future when we should be saying, having signed the agreement, we can now assure that the climate finance is going to flow and action is going to be taken to reduce greenhouse gases to get us close to 1.5,” added Fletcher, who will be in Marrakech next month to support CARICOM.

“We are not in a good place where bending that temperature curve is concerned, and making finance more readily available to SIDS is one way to get there,” he said.

Gleaner

Governor of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Brian Wynter and Financial Secretary Everton McFarlane have come out defending the costly ‘insurance’ Jamaica has taken out against oil prices as the expiration date nears and a new one is being prepared for Parliament’s approval.

Hedging is an investment position used to reduce substantial losses that could be incurred based on actual or perceived fluctuating developments.

Last year June, Jamaica entered an arrangement with Citibank, which covers the period from June 2015 to December 2016, and for which the bank has been paid approximately J$3.3 billion (US$27.9 million) in premiums. The arrangement involved three contracts.

Under the arrangement, Jamaica would get a payout if oil prices exceed US$66 per barrel. Up to yesterday, the West Texas Intermediate crude rate used under the hedge put the latest oil prices at US$51.60 per barrel.

McFarlane told Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) yesterday that the Parliament would be approached to approve funds to extend the hedge as no provision was made in the 2016-2017 National Budget, approved in May.

“In the coming Supplementary Estimates, we are looking to find the resources so that we’re covered a longer period of time,” he said. He added in a Gleaner interview later that “the details as to the period to be covered and the level of coverage are to be finalised in short order.”

He said the resources would come from budgetary reallocations.

NUMBER OF BARRELS DECLINING

The BOJ Governor also noted that with just two months to go under the last contract, the number of barrels has been declining.

“We’re not covering the full monthly amount now. This is the tail end of what was being hedged over a year ago. It’s a little under 200,000 barrels per month, whereas when you’re covering (fully), you’d be up there at about 700,000 or 800,000 barrels per month,” he said.

Concerns had been raised that because prices have remained low, Jamaica was losing millions under what some critics held was an unnecessary hedge.

PAAC member Franklyn Witter, using similar concerns, questioned whether the risks that gave rise to the hedge still existed.

“You have a projection over the medium term for oil to remain within $52 per barrel, so given that projection, why do you think it would be important to continue with the hedge?”

McFarlane responded that the risks still existed and that “Jamaica’s interest in continuing the hedge is based on the loss of foreign exchange that can entail or the budgetary loss that may arise in the event of significantly higher prices”.

Wynter, meanwhile, noted that investors have questioned how Jamaica would cope when oil prices increase even if other risks are low.

“There are several different answers to give. One answer is to build the Net International Reserves up by an extra billion so that we have it sitting down. The other extreme is to pay the $20 million or $30 million, still a lot of money, which, if nothing happens, you lose the premium, but if that event occurs, you get the payout that someone else has to have to pay you.

“We do look at what makes more sense,” he added. “Accumulating reserves is good for all sorts [of] reasons, but it’s also costly. So what we’ve done is try to strike the balance.”

The hedge has been funded by a special consumption tax on fuel.

The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica has supported it.

No date has been given for the tabling of a supplementary budget, which the Finance Minister Audley Shaw has indicated will be coming.

In January, while on opposition benches, Shaw said the administration may have been ill-advised in pursuing the hedge.

Gleaner

Representatives from nearly 200 member countries of the Montreal Protocol agreed on a deal to reduce emissions of powerful greenhouse gases at a summit Saturday in Kigali, Rwanda.

The landmark deal will reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, the world’s fastest-growing greenhouse gases, the UN Environment Program said in a statement.
HFCs are potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning instead of other ozone-depleting substances.
“The amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer endorsed in Kigali today is the single largest contribution the world has made towards keeping the global temperature rise ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius, a target agreed at the Paris climate conference last year,” the UN agency said in a statement Saturday.
According to the agency, the agreed reduction in HFCs could prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) of global warming by the end of this century. The deal was reached at a Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, which started Thursday. Several high-profile leaders attended the meeting, including US Secretary of State John Kerry.

“It is not often you get a chance to have a 0.5-degree centigrade reduction by taking one single step together as countries — each doing different things perhaps at different times, but getting the job done,” Kerry said in a speech Friday.
“If we continue to remember the high stakes for every country on Earth, the global transition to a clean-energy economy is going to accelerate.”
The European Union also welcomed the deal. Miguel Arias Cañete, EU commissioner for climate action and energy, described it as “huge win for the climate” and the first step toward delivering on promises made on climate change in Paris in December.
The agreement in Kigali comes only days after enough countries ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change — which calls for the world to become carbon neutral this century — to become international law.
“Last year in Paris, we promised to keep the world safe from the worst effects of climate change. Today, we are following through on that promise,” said Erik Solheim, executive director of the UN Environment Program.
The White House
Today, nearly 200 countries took an historic step to for future generations by phasing down HFCs: http://go.wh.gov/qnkYar pic.twitter.com/f2wUyaLTt3
President Barack Obama also hailed the Kigali deal.
“Today’s agreement caps off a critical 10 days in our global efforts to combat climate change,” the US leader said. “In addition to today’s amendment, countries last week crossed the threshold for the Paris Agreement to enter into force and reached a deal to constrain international aviation emissions.
“Together, these steps show that, while diplomacy is never easy, we can work together to leave our children a planet that is safer, more prosperous, more secure and more free than the one that was left for us.”

Growing demand for cooling

The rapid increase in HFC emissions — put by the UN agency at 10% a year — is due in part to a growing demand for cooling, particularly in developing countries with hot climates and an expanding middle class, the agency said.
The agreement includes provisions for hot countries to reduce their use of HFCs at a slower rate. Developed countries will start to reduce the use of HFCs by 2019, while developing nations have been given a longer time frame in which to freeze their use of the damaging gases.
Funding for measures to reduce HFC use and research into alternatives is to be finalized next year, the UN agency said.
Kerry recalled how the world’s nations had worked together on climate change since first meeting in the 1980s in Montreal in a bid to protect the world’s fragile ozone layer from ozone-depleting chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons.
“Thanks to the cooperation and the courage that we summoned at that critical time almost 30 years ago, the hole in the ozone layer — which had been growing at an alarming rate, and which was the reason that we came together — that hole is now shrinking, and it’s on its way to full repair,” he said.
“So we proved that we can make a difference. We proved that science has a value. We proved that if we come together in a forum like this, we can actually do things that affect the entire planet.”
Kerry also acknowledged that HFCs had turned out not to be the best solution for the problem of ozone depletion.
“We replaced the ozone depleting substances, but we came to understand the hard way that HFCs may be safe for the ozone layer, but they are disastrous for our climate, in many cases thousands of times more damaging than carbon dioxide,” he said.
Used in everyday household items such as refrigerators and air conditioners, he said, “in a single year, these substances emit as much CO2 equivalent as nearly 300 coal-fired power plants.”
The head of Rwanda’s climate change unit, Faustin Munyazikwiye, also welcomed the world’s commitment on HFCs after long hours of negotiations in Kigali.

A man walks along a construction site on Constant Spring Road, St Andrew on Friday, October 7. The roadway in the vicinity of the Marketplace commercial complex is being repaired following its collapse from rains associated with Hurricane Matthew.

After a period of uncertainty, it has been confirmed that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change will enter into force on November 4.

This is good news for the Caribbean, one of the parts of the world most at risk from sea level change and severe climatic events.

By global treaty standards, formal agreement has been achieved remarkably quickly, especially as the solutions that the treaty proposes remain politically controversial in many of the nations that agreed last December to the final text.

Normally, ratification takes years to achieve. However, faced with evidence that the planet continues to warm and the possibility that Donald Trump could become the next US president and may pick apart the hard-won agreement, the world’s largest carbon emitters – China, the United States, Brazil, the European Union, and India, but not so far Japan or Russia – have agreed to ratify, thereby reaching the agreed target of 56.87 per cent of all global emissions, for the treaty to come into force.

In many respects, this is a victory for the Caribbean, for CARICOM in particular, and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and other small-island developing states, which in Paris last December made clear that a positive outcome was existential.

In outline, the 31-page agreement proposes that a balance between greenhouse gas emissions and the sinks for ameliorating them is achieved in the second half of this century.

It emphasises the need to hold the increase in the global average temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels; proposes “pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (35 degrees Fahrenheit)”; and recommends that a peak in global greenhouse gas emissions be achieved as soon as possible. It allows for an asymmetrical approach, enabling all developing countries – including large industrialising carbon emitters like China, India and Brazil – to have more time to adapt.

In a section that addresses loss and damage, the agreement establishes funding at the minimum annual rate of US$100 billion up to 2030 to enable support for mitigation and adaptation in developing nations. However, it does not set a timescale for reaching greenhouse gas emission neutrality.

Unlike the earlier Kyoto Protocol of 2005, which required major carbon emitters to agree to binding emissions reductions, but failed when the US decided not to ratify because of exclusion of nations like China, the Paris agreement requires all countries to devise their own climate action plans and then improve on them at regular intervals.

What comes next is likely to be difficult, requiring all of the diplomatic and political skills that the Caribbean and other small-island developing states have.

ACCESS TO RESOURCES

While Hurricane Matthew and the damage that it wreaked in Haiti, The Bahamas, and Cuba was a salutary global reminder of the risk that low-lying states with limited resources face, CARICOM, as its Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque, noted earlier this year, now faces the challenge of being able to access the resources the agreement promises.

An important recent development in this respect has been the establishment by the Commonwealth Secretariat, with Australian finance, of a new facility intended to assist governments obtain available funding.

The idea is that a Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub will locate national climate-finance advisers in countries for two-year periods to help access climate change support. Among the first countries likely to receive such support are Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, and St Kitts, as well as other small island states in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.

Other funding options are also being considered. Recently, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness indicated that Jamaica is to work with its international development partners to pursue debt for climate-change swaps. Such an approach, he says, has the potential to provide fiscal relief while helping to unlock climate financing to fund adaptation and mitigation initiatives.

What is clear is that when it comes to funding, the treaty agreement as is so far little more than an aspirational framework.

For this reason, at the forthcoming climate change conference in Marrakesh in November, CARICOM will need – together with its Alliance of Small-Island States – the global grouping which brings together small island and low-lying coastal countries that share similar development concerns – to hold the world to account for what has been agreed.

This will not just be a test of the Caribbean’s staying power and the willingness of regional governments to fund and support a continuing focus. It will also require the Caribbean to remind the countries that it supported during the negotiations, and which expressed concern about the implications of climate change for the region, of their commitments.

Put more bluntly, it is now the time for China and Brazil, as much as the US and Europe, to ensure that the support for adaptation that the region needs, now materialises.

In this, both CARICOM and the CARICOM Climate Change Centre will continue to have a critical role in coordinating the regional effort. But it will also be up to individual governments to maintain the political momentum, demonstrate a unity of purpose, and be determined to address the Caribbean’s implementation deficit.

CLOSE TO THE SEA

Climate change is an issue on which the Caribbean has had every reason to have its voice heard and be taken very seriously. Fifty per cent of its population and the majority of the region’s productive enterprise and infrastructure lie within 1.2 miles of the sea. Its low-lying nature, its fragile ecosystems, and extreme weather events demonstrate that it is a prime candidate to benefit from what has been agreed.

While countries in the region are often accused of allowing mendacity to drive their foreign policy, here is an example where the Caribbean deserves a transfer of resources if it quite literally is not to disappear beneath the sea.

Climate change also has a strategic importance. It enables the Caribbean to demonstrate an approach that owes more to the future than to the past; it is an issue on which it has a better chance to exert leverage; and one that can deliver national and regional development objectives. It is an issue on which the region occupies the moral high ground and has popular international support.

Gleaner

Caribbean waters have been disturbed by Hurricane Matthew, which has left a trail of death and destruction in its wake this past week.

 

While Jamaica was spared the full wrath of Hurricane Matthew, others in the Caribbean were not, making well the case for holding global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius in the face of a changing climate.

So says respected meteorologist and former climate change negotiator for Jamaica, Clifford Mahlung.

For him, the experience of Matthew – leaving in its wake a trail of bodies and extensive infrastructure damage in not only Haiti, which took a severe battering, but also the Dominican Republic and Cuba – is chock-full of takeaways.

“The lessons that we gather from Matthew are numerous. It certainly strengthens the argument that we keep our global temperatures as close as we can to 1.5 degrees, because anything above 1.5 will result in many such systems like the one we just experienced with this hurricane,” Mahlung told The Gleaner.

In the run up to and during the international climate change talks held in France last year, the Caribbean aggressively lobbied for and ultimately secured the inclusion of 1.5 degrees Celsius as a target referenced in the new climate deal.

Dubbed ‘The Paris Agreement’, it has as its goal to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.

The agreement will come into force next month following reports of endorsement from European nations yesterday, which sent the accord across a crucial threshold. “European nations raised backing for the 2015 Paris Agreement to countries representing 56.75 per cent of world greenhouse gas emissions, above the 55 per cent needed for implementation,” a Reuters news report said, quoting from a United Nations website.

With this year’s global climate change talks, to be held in Marrakesh, now only weeks away, Mahlung said Hurricane Matthew lends significance to the coming into force of the agreement. It also underscores, he said, the need for global financial and other support for climate change adaptation and loss and damage associated with extreme weather events in small-island developing states (SIDS).

 

HURRICANE CATEGORIES

 

“Hurricane Matthew was able to maintain category three or higher for several days. It shows that we can get a category five hurricane in a matter of hours,” Mahlung said.

“It shows the difficulties of even doing some of the predictions, as we saw how the projected tracks changed considerably over time; and this is not because the models are not good, but that the kind of conditions we now face with respect to tropical cyclone development have changed significantly from the good old days of, say, a Gilbert or Ivan,” he added.

According to the meteorologist, SIDS have to remain vigilant.

“You can appreciate that there were times when the people in Haiti and Dominican Republic would have thought that the system would not have come to Hispaniola. We saw where, in the final analysis, Jamaica was spared and the track was changed, resulting in grave devastation in Hispaniola and particularly Haiti,” Mahlung noted.

“So when we make the case with respect to adaptation in Marrakesh in a few weeks time, and also loss and damage, we will go into those negotiations with first-hand experiences of just what severe weather events such as a tropical cyclone, can do to small-island states,” he emphasised.

Former head of the Meteorological Service, Jeffrey Spooner, for his part, said there was no question of the need to continue the push for a climate-secure Caribbean.

“My real wish is that Marrakesh continues the work to ensure that we get to the point where we can really seal this deal to cap the increase in global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Jamaica, CARICOM and SIDS need to continue to press for that,” he said.

pwr.gleaner@gmail.com

The Gleaner 

Project Administrator at the Climate Change Division in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Clifford Mahlung, addresses a consultation on ‘climate change and human health in Jamaica and its implications for other sectors’ at the Climate Change Division located at Half-Way Tree Road in Kingston. (Photo: JIS)

JAMAICA is expected to deposit its instruments of ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change by year end.

The Paris Agreement emphasises that climate change is a threat to human society and that there is a growing need for international collaboration, deep reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, establishment of a framework for the involvement of local communities and people with disabilities, and the empowerment of women, among others.

Speaking with JIS News

on Thursday, project administrator at the Climate Change Division in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Clifford Mahlung, said the process towards ratification will require Government’s approval, which is under way.

“We are awaiting the assessment from the Attorney General’s Department. We are close to hearing from them, and that will allow us to make a submission to Cabinet and then Cabinet will decide that we should go ahead and ratify,” he explained.

The Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 countries at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) held in Paris in December 2015.

Mahlung said that the ratification means that Jamaica will become a party to the Paris Agreement “and so we can become involved and participate in all aspects of the work of the agreement”.

He said that to date, 61 countries have ratified the agreement, adding that there have been commitments from the European Union and India to sign on before the end of the year.

The Agreement calls on nations that have ratified to pursue their highest possible ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using Nationally Determined Contributions and monitored through a reporting mechanism.

The overall goal of the Paris Agreement is for countries to take action to keep global temperature rise this century below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels while at the same time using best efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Agreement will come into force when the total number of countries that have ratified the convention accounts for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions

Jamaica Observer

There's a cheap, proven fix to the world's biggest problem

Nearly everyone who studies climate change policy agrees on one thing: To fix this monster of a problem, governments need to put a price on dangerous carbon pollution.

Carbon pricing can take a few forms, and it’s not a cure-all, to be sure. But it is generally considered by climate wonks to be the cheap-but-effectiveholy grail.” That’s why the world should applaud Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision this week to implement carbon pricing across that country. It’s a move the United States should copy, too. It’s not as cute or heartwarming as when Trudeau welcomed those refugees, perhaps. But it should be seen as just as noteworthy.
The country’s bold policy shift “will help the country’s environment and economy as we compete for the rapidly growing global demand for clean energy,” Matt Horne, associate director of the Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank in Vancouver, said in an emailed statement. In other words: It’s a win for everyone. Not all politicians see it that way, of course, even in green ole’ Canada. “Why is (Trudeau) using a sledgehammer to force the provinces and territories to accept a carbon tax grab and what happened to his promised new era of cooperative federalism?” Conservative MP Ed Fast asked, according to CBC News.
Such complaints are shortsighted, though. They fail to recognize what’s becoming increasingly clear: Unless we do far more to clean up the global economy, we are passing an era of storms, floods and environmental wreckage on to future generations.
Because we’ve been so slow to act on this crisis, bold action is now required. To meet the international goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius, we need to ditch fossil fuels this century, hopefully by 2050. That goal is written into the Paris Agreement, which, this week, appears poised to become international law. The United States has ratified that agreement, and Canada has signed it, according to WRI. So far, however, pledges to cut pollution fall short of what’s needed.
We need to price carbon to meet those lofty (and critical) goals. Here’s how it works: Pricing carbon is an inherently conservative and market-friendly way to cut heat-trapping emissions that are causing seas to rise, ice caps to melt, wildfires to worsen and so on. These policies work by making a bad thing — burning high pollution fuels like coal, for example — more expensive. By comparison, smarter, cleaner energy choices — wind, solar, etc. — become cheaper. British Columbia already has a successful carbon tax in place. I visited earlier this year and talked to people at a gas station near the US border. I was surprised to find many people who said they wanted to pay the carbon tax — even wanted it to be higher — because it’s good for the environment.
Research shows carbon emission in the province dropped 5% to 15% and fuel use dropped 16% after the tax’s implementation. Yet, the economy continued to grow, slightly outpacing the rest of Canada. The only injustice of the tax is that neighbouring provinces didn’t have to pay it. The revenues from the carbon tax actually go directly back to citizens. These concepts continue to spread, which is cause for hope. Another version of carbon pricing, called cap-and-trade, is in place in California. (Cap-and-trade systems set a maximum amount of allowable pollution and then let businesses buy and sell pollution credits on a market.)
Canada will give provinces the choice of implementing either type of policy. The government says the prices must go into effect by 2018, with the price of carbon starting at a minimum of $10 per metric ton of pollution and rising to $50 per ton by 2022. Some environmentalists have called the plan too lax. It’s not perfect, but it’s far better than the piecemeal approach of waiting for jurisdictions to act on their town.
In the United States, Washington state residents will vote on a carbon tax this November.
I’m hopeful that vote — and this big push from Trudeau’s Canada — will reignite a debate about carbon pricing in the US federal government. Donald Trump and other American politicians can deny the harsh realities of climate science all they want, but that won’t change the urgency with which we need to act.