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Caribbean laments survivability
Doha, Qatar—Caribbean countries attending the UN Climate Change conference in the Arab state of Qatar voiced concern about their existence and survivability against the impact of climate change including soaring temperatures and rising sea levels.
The failure of the ongoing UN Climate Change conference to address important issues will lead to serious consequences for the existence of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other vulnerable communities around the world, Barbados Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Maxine McClean said yesterday.
“We are not fully convinced that our negotiating partners fully understand what they are requesting of us when they seek our acquiescence to their demands,” she said while addressing the high-level session of the conference now into its final week.
“If we are to do what is right, we cannot continue on our current path. The time for procrastination is over. We cannot afford the luxury of further denial. We must respond with ambition and at a pace that is now beyond urgent. The time for incremental and piecemeal solutions is long past,” said Mc Clean.
Jamaica’s Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill said climate change is attacking the economy and the natural environment of the Caribbean country. Since 2001, Jamaica has lost an annual average of two per cent of GDP in damage and other losses associated with hurricanes, floods and drought. The cumulative cost of the damage and loss has been estimated at over US$1 billion.
Caribbean countries, under the umbrella group, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) have called for more ambitious emission reduction commitments than that which are on offer by all developed countries including those undertaking a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and enhancing mitigation ambition to ensure countries are on track to achieve below two degrees goal.
The Caribbean have also joined with other developing countries in seeking clarity on the delivery of scaled up finance after the end of the Fast Start finance period in three weeks and have secured support from other developing nations in calling for an international institutional anchor to address loss and damage from climate change.
“Since we have no control over stopping impacts such as acidification or increased water temperatures, then it is only just and fair that those who continue to ignore the obvious signs and this impose this burden on us, begin to be held accountable for the havoc they are unleashing on us small islands,” said Pickersgill.
Recalling the recent World Bank report which points to a possible four degree world, the Jamaican minister said such a scenario will affect all countries of the world. “You see my friends, we are all adrift in the same boat and half the boat won’t sink, the entire boat will. We are all in this together,” he said.
Grenada’s Minister of the Environment, Foreign Trade and Export Development said his country faces the threat of a serious drought next year, which will follow on the heels of the 2010 drought and severe hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. Damage caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 amounted to 200 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
“Grenada has now experienced two, once-in-50-years storms within one year of each other and is facing two once-in-50-years droughts within three years of each other,” he told the high-level session. Small island developing states worldwide over the last year have also witnessed a startling increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather because of climate change Nauru’s Foreign Minister Dr Kieren Keke told the UN conference.
“Droughts are making it harder and harder to grow crops and coral reefs, the foundation of the marine ecosystems we rely on for food and survival, are dying before our eyes,” he said while delivering a statement on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) which includes the Caribbean.
Keke said despite 20 years of commitments to take action, global temperatures and sea levels continue to rise alongside record greenhouse gas emissions and referred to a series of scientific reports which indicated that unless emissions are immediately reduced, the world is on track for a three to five degree rise in temperature and an unthinkable future.
“…Unless we commence ambitious action across all areas of the negotiations, some of us will not make it to the end of the century,” he said. As far as raising short-term ambition, he said AOSIS has submitted a common sense approach that would bring countries together over the next year to identify actions they can take to lower their emissions.
But he said poor countries will not be able to take the kind of action needed without the mobilization of finance, technology, and capacity building from the developed world. Keke said many small islands and other vulnerable countries have been left to shoulder the costs of climate impacts that are already occurring and will now be impossible to avoid.