Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Countdown to COP21: Jamaica on track to participate in climate talks despite Paris attacks

Published:Thursday | November 19, 2015 | 11:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor
Khan ... The issues to be negotiated on in Paris are very important to not just Jamaica, but to all small-island developing states, and Jamaica intends for its voice to he heard.
Police officers of the Research and Intervention Brigade (BRI) walk to their truck in Saint-Denis, near Paris, France, yesterday. A woman wearing an explosive suicide vest blew herself up yesterday as heavily armed police tried to storm a suburban Paris apartment where the suspected mastermind of last week’s attacks was believed to be holed up, police said.
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Jamaica remains on track to participate in the international climate talks despite last Friday's gun and bomb attacks in Paris, France, where the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) negotiations are to be held, beginning the end of this month.

"It is a subject that we have been considering. We are aware of the developments in France, and we are aware that precautions are being taken on that side to ensure that the conference can go through in a safe environment," noted Col Oral Khan, chief technical director in the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change.

"We understand that some activities may be scaled back, but we are preparing and will be seeking the approval of the Cabinet for the delegation to go," he added.

With a strategy meeting on how each member will be utilised already out of the way, the list

of proposed members of the delegation is to be submitted to Cabinet by the end of this week.

Khan - like Albert Daley, head of the Climate Change Division, last week - would give no precise details on the composition of the delegation.

However, it is anticipated that the team will comprise not only negotiators versed in going to bat for the island's interests, but also a number of civil-society actors and a youth representative. This is in addition to at least one minister of government.

According to Khan, no member of the proposed delegation has yet expressed any anxiety about going to Paris, where the attacks claimed the lives of more than 120 people and left more than 300 injured.

French officials have indicated that three teams of terrorists staged coordinated attacks at six locations throughout Paris late last Friday. The locations included two restaurants, a concert venue and the Stade de France.

Khan said while being mindful of the risks, the issues to be negotiated in Paris were paramount in their minds as they are critical to the future of the island and others in the Caribbean, as elsewhere.

"We are aware. We have concerns, but we are preparing to go. The issues to be negotiated on in Paris are very important to not just Jamaica, but to all small-island developing states, and Jamaica intends for its voice to be heard," Khan told The Gleaner.

Still, he said, "the final decision will rest with Cabinet to consider whether it is safe for our delegation to go".

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