Tag: Paris Agreement

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s outlook shows renewables will be cheaper almost everywhere in just a few years.

Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships, is becoming cheap enough that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants out of business faster than previously forecast.

That’s the conclusion of a Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlook for how fuel and electricity markets will evolve by 2040. The research group estimated solar already rivals the cost of new coal power plants in Germany and the U.S. and by 2021 will do so in quick-growing markets such as China and India.

The scenario suggests green energy is taking root more quickly than most experts anticipate. It would mean that global carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels may decline after 2026, a contrast with the International Energy Agency’s central forecast, which sees emissions rising steadily for decades to come.

“Costs of new energy technologies are falling in a way that it’s more a matter of when than if,” said Seb Henbest, a researcher at BNEF in London and lead author of the report.

The report also found that through 2040:

  • China and India represent the biggest markets for new power generation, drawing $4 trillion, or about 39 percent all investment in the industry.
  • The cost of offshore wind farms, until recently the most expensive mainstream renewable technology, will slide 71 percent, making turbines based at sea another competitive form of generation.
  • At least $239 billion will be invested in lithium-ion batteries, making energy storage devices a practical way to keep homes and power grids supplied efficiently and spreading the use of electric cars.
  • Natural gas will reap $804 billion, bringing 16 percent more generation capacity and making the fuel central to balancing a grid that’s increasingly dependent on power flowing from intermittent sources, like wind and solar.

BNEF’s conclusions about renewables and their impact on fossil fuels are most dramatic. Electricity from photovoltaic panels costs almost a quarter of what it did in 2009 and is likely to fall another 66 percent by 2040. Onshore wind, which has dropped 30 percent in price in the past eight years, will fall another 47 percent by the end of BNEF’s forecast horizon.

That means even in places like China and India, which are rapidly installing coal plants, solar will start providing cheaper electricity as soon as the early 2020s.

“These tipping points are all happening earlier and we just can’t deny that this technology is getting cheaper than we previously thought,” said Henbest.

Coal will be the biggest victim, with 369 gigawatts of projects standing to be cancelled, according to BNEF. That’s about the entire generation capacity of Germany and Brazil combined.

Capacity of coal will plunge even in the U.S., where President Donald Trump is seeking to stimulate fossil fuels. BNEF expects the nation’s coal-power capacity in 2040 will be about half of what it is now after older plants come offline and are replaced by cheaper and less-polluting sources such as gas and renewables.

In Europe, capacity will fall by 87 percent as environmental laws boost the cost of burning fossil fuels. BNEF expects the world’s hunger for coal to abate starting around 2026 as governments work to reduce emissions in step with promises under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“Beyond the term of a president, Donald Trump can’t change the structure of the global energy sector single-handedly,” said Henbest.

All told, the growth of zero-emission energy technologies means the industry will tackle pollution faster than generally accepted. While that will slow the pace of global warming, another $5.3 trillion of investment would be needed to bring enough generation capacity to keep temperature increases by the end of the century to a manageable 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the report said.

The data suggest wind and solar are quickly becoming major sources of electricity, brushing aside perceptions that they’re too expensive to rival traditional fuels.

By 2040, wind and solar will make up almost half of the world’s installed generation capacity, up from just 12 percent now, and account for 34 percent of all the power generated, compared with 5 percent at the moment, BNEF concluded.

JAMAICA’S CLIMATE Change Division (CCD) is working on strengthening coordination and overall efficiency within the island’s focal point network, tasked to ensure climate change considerations are included in the planning and operations of each ministry, department and agency of government.

A first step is a lunch meeting to be held this Friday to share on the state of play with international climate change deliberations, post the entering into force of the historic Paris Agreement Jamaica’s ratification of which became official on May 10.

“We will also have a discussion about how we prepare for a pre-COP (Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), what type of pre-COP event we would want to have this year (ahead of the international talks to be held in Bonn), and the mini-COP we have planned for schools with the Ministry of Education,” revealed Una May Gordon, principal director for the CCD.

This meeting follows on a recent stocktaking of how the focal point representatives currently do their work and the way in which they use their knowledge of climate change.

The next step will be to secure a dedicated officer to handle coordination of the network, which currently has some 27 representatives from across the public sector.

“We are hoping that the consultant should be on board in June,” Gordon told The Gleaner, adding that funding for that person has come through the Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (JCCCP).

The Jamaica component of the JCCCP was launched in June last year by the United Nations Development Programme and is designed to “bring together policymakers, experts and representatives of communities to encourage policy innovation for climate technology incubation and diffusion”.

The island is set to receive US$1.8 million of the US$15 million earmarked for eight Caribbean islands to help with climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Network Coordination

In addition to coordination of the focal point network with a focus on sectors such as forestry, water and energy, for which adaptation and mitigation plans are being or will be developed Gordon said the consultant will also support the climate change board and its activities.

Attention is also being paid to the composition of the network.

“We are re-examining the focal points to see if we have the right people in place and to ensure we get more depth and adequate coverage across all the portfolios,” Gordon noted.

“I think we can add a few more (representatives) because some ministries have changed. There is (for example) the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, so we need two there. Another is the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport,” she added.

The CCD, meanwhile, has managed to add to its own team over recent months. There is now a mitigation officer Omar Alcock who takes over from Gerald Lindo, who left last year.

There is also a climate finance adviser whose services have been provided through support from the Commonwealth Secretariat, as well as a public awareness and behaviour change officer, appointed through the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience.

“I am quite satisfied with my little team,” said a smiling Gordon.

Gleaner

MARRAKECH, Morocco:

Jamaica is choosing, at least for now, not to worry over whether climate finance flows from the United States (US) will dry up under the presidency of Donald Trump.

This is despite news that the president-elect – a climate-change sceptic – may be looking to opt out of the historic Paris Agreement.

The US ratified the agreement on September 3 under President Barack Obama, who, after submitting the documents to the United Nations, is reported to have said: “Some day we may see this as the moment when we decided to save our planet.”

Fast-forward just two months and the victory of the Republican Trump over the Democrats’ Hillary Clinton to succeed Obama has triggered anxiety among participants here at the international climate talks.

Holness Not Worried

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who was in Marrakech last week, does not share in the worry.

“I think the public should be aware that the US is a party to this agreement; it is an international agreement. So, too, are other major powers in the world, including China and India, and that is significant,” he noted.

“The signing of the Paris Agreement is a significant movement in the world – towards making some definitive attempts to address the issue of climate change. I believe it is still early days yet for us to cast any conclusions. I am still confident and very optimistic that the movement which has started will not be turned back,” Holness added.

At the same time, the PM hinted at the intention to do whatever possible to ensure the success of the agreement.

“There is always room for negotiations, for change, for improvement, and for Jamaica, it is in our interest to ensure that this movement continues because we are susceptible [to climate threats]. We are seeing the effects of increased tropical storms, of sea-level rise, of droughts, unpredictable weather events, which are impacting on our infrastructure – damage to our roads, our gullies, our drains,” said the PM, who was attending the COP for the first time.

“[There is also] the emergence in recent times of various health threats which are transmitted because of changes in the weather which allow the breeding of various vectors, particularly mosquitoes. So we have a vested interest in ensuring there is a global movement that will protect our environment,” Holness added.

Jamaica is not alone in choosing not to worry over the future of US climate financing.

“We work with the US government and the US institutions, US researchers, and we look forward to continuing the work with the new administration,” Jonathan Lyn, head of communications and media relations at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told The Gleaner.

The IPCC is the international body for assessing climate science. Set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme, it provides policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Wait And See

“There is a new administration. We are waiting to see what the policies will be. The US has been a very active participant in the IPCC, and not just in terms of financial contributions but contributing experts,” said Lyn, who will be in Jamaica later this month for an IPCC-led regional workshop.

“We have seen how the world is using our scientific findings to work together on tackling climate change, and there has been real momentum on that in the last few months. We expect that global effort to continue and we expect to continue to contribute to that with good, robust science,” he added.

The US has contributed some US$2 million annually to the work of the IPCC over the last five years. Since the international climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009, it has “ramped up its climate finance for developing countries fourfold”, according to the Overview of the Global Climate Change Initiative: US Climate Finance 2010-2015report available on the State Department’s website.

“Between 2010 and 2015, the United States allocated $15.6 billion in climate finance across adaptation, clean energy, and sustainable landscapes activities. Additionally, in 2014 the United States pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, the largest pledge by any country,” it added.

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The earth has warmed barely a single degree Celsius, and yet virtually no place on the planet is unaffected by climate change. That’s the conclusion of both a new study published in the journal Science and a popular-science book out this week, The Unnatural World, by David Biello, the science curator at TED and a Scientific Americancontributing editor.

“This new age is not just climate change,” Biello writes, “it is everything change: the sky, the sea, the land, the rocks, life itself.”

The Science article reviews dozens of field studies and assembles them into a mosaic of ubiquitous change, from the genes of organisms to entire regions. More than 80 percent of the 94 biological and ecological systems surveyed show signs of the changing climate. Led by Brett Scheffers of the University of Florida, a team of 17 scientists trawled academic journals and enumerated observed changes across terrestrial, marine, and freshwater environments. The study’s seven pages are a dense catalog of pervasive, dynamic weirdness that paint a picture of changing ecosystems.

No particular item should strike fear in the hearts of readers but, taken together, the data portray a living world that’s trying to cope. Some highlights: Pink salmon are migrating about two weeks earlier in the summer than they did 40 years ago, spawning in ever-warmer waters and causing the fish’s genome to change. Southern flying squirrels, native to the eastern U.S., are becoming northern flying squirrels, now native to the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and Alaska. Colors—which help determine an animal’s sensitivity to light and consequently its ability to thrive in unfamiliar conditions—are shifting in butterflies, dragonflies, and birds. Some places have new diseases, and old diseases have arrived in new places.

The changes, large and small, illuminate the overarching global and regional changes that scientists have warned about, and now documented, for decades. The chemical and physical stability of many ecosystems, and therefore biodiversity, are under assault. The consequences for human society are both foreseen and unforeseen. “Losing genetic resources in nature may undermine future development of novel crop varieties and compromise key strategies that humans use to adapt to climate change,” the Science authors write.

They also suggest where to start: “It is now up to national governments to make good on the promises they made in Paris” to cut emissions and keep ecosystems safe. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to leave the historic climate accord, backed by almost 200 countries.

Change is so pervasive that geologists, keepers of the earth’s chronology, are considering the dramatic gesture of creating a new epoch, called the Anthropocene, to mark humanity’s influence.

The Anthropocene is the frame through which Biello peers in The Unnatural World. Read together, the book and the Science article demonstrate the astounding scale of human influence on the natural systems that sustain our planet.

“One of the longest-lived impacts of this new people’s epoch, longer lasting even than all the CO₂ piling up in the atmosphere,” Biello said about the Science paper, “will be our impact on evolution. The question now is: Will the Anthropocene be a blip in the rock record, like an asteroid impact, or can people learn to ameliorate our impacts and lengthen the span of this new epoch?”

Bloomberg

At least one local environmentalist has hit back at Sally Porteous, custos of Manchester, over her arguments urging the Government’s authorisation of a coal plant for a US multibillion-dollar investment into the Alpart alumina plant in St Elizabeth.

The Chinese-owned Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO) is planning to spend US$3 billion or J$387 billion for the upgrade of Alpart’s alumina plant in Nain and expansion into a special economic zone. More than 3,000 people are expected to be employed over the six-year period of initial investment.

However, a proposal to use a coal-fired plant has angered environmentalists, forcing the Government to come out declaring that any decision on whether to use coal is almost two years away.

Speaking last week at a Gleaner Jobs & Growth Forum in Manchester, Porteous did not hold back.

“While I listen to, and respect, the environmentalists, I sincerely hope that it is not going to be a case of crying wolf and preventing an enormous opportunity for Jamaicans to get work.

“From what I understand, they will not be using coal from China, they will be using coal from Colombia. The Alpart plant itself would be run on oil, and the coal they are going to be using for the coal plant will not emit any worst emissions than oil,” she added, noting that she recently met with Chen Chunming, the JISCO chairman.

But Diana McCaulay, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), said Porteous’ analysis is not deep enough, and so, too, is her view that coal is cleaner than oil.

“People are entitled to their views. But coal is a 19th-Century technology. It is time for us to move forward, and it is time for us to take the position that we want development and we want industry and we want business and we want jobs for our people, but not at the expense of public health and the climate.”

She added: “Jamaica is incredibly vulnerable to climate change. To say that you’re willing to take this risk for some short-term jobs, I find mystifying.”

Jamaica has been going through decades of low growth, double-digit unemployment and crippling debt levels that have created the circumstances for a loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund.”

NOT FIRST TIME

It is not the first time a local official has waded into controversy over securing needed investment for the country. Last year January, in the face of a hotel investment being derail over breaches, Robert Pickersgill, then environment minister, in lifting a cessation order remarked that he took note of the “the substantial value of the project to the Jamaican economy, which outweighs all other consideration”.

In September, Mining Minister Mike Henry said a decision on the coal proposal was at least 18 months away.

Global environmental advocacy group Greenpeace has said constructing the plant would violate the Paris climate agreement aimed at limiting global warming.

Porteous maintained that the Chinese investment represents an opportunity to bring well-needed economic growth to central Jamaica.

“This is the centre of the island’s only chance for revival. We have nothing else. We’re not near a beach, the north coast is taking care of itself very, very well, and I can see very great business going into Kingston.

“We have the opportunity of a lifetime with JISCO coming to take over that plant,” she said.

The Manchester Chamber of Commerce said it is already taking steps to get the parish ready to claim some of the spinoff benefits.

“We’re currently in discussions with investors to try and lure them and encourage them to come into the development of the parish to aid in the development of the parish, especially as it related to three main areas,” said Michael Gottshalk, the chamber’s manager of communications and public affairs.

He said housing to accommodate the expected influx of workers, entertainment and parking are at the top of the list.

Gleaner

Armed with comments from the Office of the Attorney General (AG), Jamaica is looking at next year to ratify the Paris Agreement, which sets the framework for the global response to climate change.

“We have received the comments of the AG, which point out the obligations the country would have under the agreement. We now have to complete a series of consultations with the various stakeholders that would have a critical part to play in meeting those obligations,” revealed Colonel Oral Khan, chief technical director in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

“So we are going to be entering into that period of consultation before we seek the formal approval to ratify. We do not anticipate any hurdles; it is just now a process that we have to go through to ensure that we do not leave anybody behind. When we ratify, everybody must understand their obligations,” he added. Among other things, Jamaica will need to satisfy the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) requirement for nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which fuel global warming.

“We already submitted our INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) and we are to confirm they are to move from INDCs to NDCs. So we have to formally notify the UNFCCC of our NDCs,” Khan explained.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

There are, too, a number of procedural matters to deal with “such as some reporting requirements that will have to be met”, he noted. Jamaica’s adaptation strategy and action plans are among those items that will need to be reported on. Already, the island has identified a number of priority sectors for these plans, including water, health, tourism, human settlement and coastal resources, in addition to agriculture, forestry and energy.

“We will have to keep the UNFCCC updated on our steps to implement and in preparing those annual reports that we have to make,” Khan said.

At the same time, the chief technical director indicated that ministries, such as the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, will have “a significant role to play”.

“A lot of our targets in the NDCs are things that fall under the energy policy in terms of switching to renewable energy and so on,” Khan noted. Once the consultations are finalised, they will report to Cabinet for the required approval to proceed with the instruments of ratification.

“We have to satisfy the Cabinet that we have engaged all the stakeholders so they have a fair appreciation of what is involved,” Khan said. He has, however, cautioned that the process will take some time.

“We can’t just wish it and it is done,” Khan told The Gleaner. “The time of the year we are in and approaching and with members of our Climate Change Division participating in the COP (the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Morocco), that kind of slows our process down in terms of our resources to undertake and lead in some of the consultations.”

Added Khan: “So for the month of November, we are going to be pretty much tied up and the environment in December will not be conducive to consultations. So we could end up seeing the process drag into next year.”

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

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

NEW YORK — The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) kicked off on Tuesday here with more than 140 heads of state and government and a yearly tradition of speeches made to the 193 member states of the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.

This year marks the 71st session of the UNGA, convened under the theme ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world’, with particular focus on Goal #13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

This high-level week with world leaders is an opportunity for the Kingdom of Morocco to promote the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) set to take place in Marrakech, November 7 to 18. Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, will be on hand for a series of side-events and bilateral meetings aimed at reinforcing and promoting Morocco’s climate initiatives, including those on energy, agriculture, capacity building, adaptation and finance, discussing global warming issues affecting the most vulnerable countries and island states, and mobilising the international community for an ambitious global climate action agenda in Marrakech to implement the Paris Agreement.

United Nations Secretary

hosted a special event to encourage parties to ratify the agreement. According to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, as of Tuesday, 29 parties have ratified the agreement, accounting for 40.12 per cent of global emissions. The Kingdom of Morocco will be among approximately 20 countries to deposit their instruments of ratification here during this week’s proceedings, inching closer to the 55 per cent necessary for legal entry into force when the agreement takes effect and becomes legally binding for those countries that have joined.

During his opening remarks, Ban underscored the importance of the climate change agenda.

“With the Paris Agreement we are tackling the defining challenge of our time. We have no time to lose. I urge you to bring the Agreement into force before the end of year. We need 26 more countries equalling 15 per cent of global emissions for entry into force,” he stated.

US President Barack Obama, during his last speech to the UNGA, called on the international community to keep working together to solve global issues including climate change. “The Paris Agreement gives us a framework to act, but only if we scale up our ambition,” he stated.

UNGA President Peter Thomson, the first from a Pacific Island nation (Fiji), underscored the need to act on climate change to avoid its negative impacts. “We are steadily moving towards the ratification of the Paris Agreement. We must not delay any further.”

Brazilian President Michel Temer affirmed his country’s commitment to fighting global warming, saying: “Tomorrow I will deposit Brazil’s instruments of ratification of the Paris Agreement.”

As the first African head of state to address the UNGA, Idriss Déby Itno, president of Chad, highlighted the importance of working with the international community to fight global warming on the continent. “It’s not about giving charity to Africa, it’s about true partnership with Africa to tackle climate and global challenges,” he said.

The traditional roll call of speeches to the UNGA starts with the United Nations secretary general, followed by the President of the UNGA, president of Brazil (first Member State to speak in the general debate since the 10th session of the General Assembly) and president of the United States (host country). For all other member states, the speaking order is based on the level of representation, preference and other criteria such as geographic balance.

observer

Khan

Jamaica has begun preparations to participate in this year’s international climate talks set for Marrakesh in November, having earlier inked the historic Paris Agreement, which emerged from last year’s negotiations, held in France.

“I know the Government intends to be represented as usual, so discussions have started on the complement of the team to go and how we will fund that participation,” Colonel Oral Khan, chief technical director in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation told The Gleaner.

On Earth Day this year, Jamaica – represented by Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith – was among the more than 100 countries to sign the agreement that was the result of years long wrangling among world leaders and their technical teams.

In signing, they signalled their intent to ratify the deal, which sets out the road map for what many hope will be a climate-secure future, given its goal to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.

The inclusion of 1.5 in the text constituted a victory for small-island developing states, including those of the Caribbean. The icing on the cake for the Caribbean lobby was the region’s 1.5 to Stay Alive campaign – the collaborative effort of Panos Caribbean; the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre; the Saint Lucia Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology; the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States; and the Regional Council of Martinique.

With funding from the Caribbean Development Bank, the campaign ran over five months – from October 2015, ahead of the Paris Talks, through February 2016.

RAISING AWARENESS

Over the period, artists, artistes, media workers, civil-society organisations and government officials worked together to raise awareness of the importance of the negotiations and their implications for the region.

The key message conveyed was the need for a transparent and verifiable agreement that limits carbon emissions and ensures global temperatures do not rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

It also sought to highlight the fact that it is the poorest countries, communities and people who are the most vulnerable to climate change, and that the fight against climate change is also the fight against poverty and for social justice.

Among the products from the campaign were a Facebook page (www.1point5.info) and Twitter account (@1point5OK) that attracted hundreds of followers; the 1.5 Selfie Video Challenge (http://www.1point5.info/actscentral); and a flash mob held in Jamaica and involving Panos’ Voices for Climate Change Education artistes.

There were also a number of creative outputs from artists, including Jonathan Guy-Gladding, out of Saint Lucia, who did a painting that bears the name of the campaign; and the production of a new album titled Earth Inspired that features the 1.5 to Stay Alive campaign theme song – available at soundcloud.com/panos-caribbean – and individual songs by artistes Aaron Silk, Minori Russell, Pam Hall and Lovindeer.

Aaron Silk and another Caribbean artiste Adrian ‘The Doc’ Martinez also attended and performed at the Paris Talks as part of the campaign. In doing so, they attracted onlookers to not only the Caribbean pavilion, but also helped to focus the spot light on 1.5 degrees Celsius as a necessary ingredient in the new climate deal.

Whether this year’s talks – which constitute the 22 Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – will yield anything momentous remains to be seen.

“This COP is not one of the big ones that is going to create a lot of excitement. But we have the Paris Agreement now; we have to keep our vigilance,” he said.

BIG BOoST

“We are hoping that even one of the larger emitters will sign off [on the Paris Agreement] before Marrakesh. That would give a big boost going into those discussions and could possibly bring along sufficient parties to ensure that the agreement could come into force even before 2020,” Khan added.

Up to August 23, there were 180 signatories to the Paris Agreement.

“Of these, 23 states have also deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval accounting in total for 1.08 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions,” reveals the UNFCCC website.

With only 23 states having so far ratified, the journey to having the agreement enter into force could prove long.

The agreement itself stipulates that it shall enter into force on the 30th day after the date on which “at least 55 parties to the Convention (UNFCCC) accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession”.

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