Wed | Jan 29, 2020

Caribbean negotiators dig in as Paris talks near close

Published:Thursday | December 10, 2015 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor
Fletcher: We will have to work throughout the night to try to bring the parties together.
Spooner: It is not a hill but a mountain that we have to climb.

PARIS, France:

WITH ONLY two days to go before the official end to the climate talks here, Caribbean negotiators are working feverishly to safeguard the region's interest in the final outcome document.

That document - referred to as 'the text' throughout the negotiating process - is widely expected to inform the global response to climate change.

"All of the Caribbean issues are still alive, which is a good thing ... . We haven't lost anything in the text," said head of the CARICOM Task Force on Climate Change Dr James Fletcher.

But, he cautioned: "We haven't sealed the deal on too many things. What has happened is that the COP [Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] president (Laurent Fabius) has put out the latest version of the text."

"It is a shortened version ... but we are still not anywhere near a final text because there are so many options still on the table," explained Fletcher, who is also St Lucia's minister of sustainable development, energy, science, and technology.

He was speaking to The Gleaner following the 3 p.m. release of the latest text yesterday, which reflects the current state of play of the negotiations on issues such as adaptation, loss and damage, finance, technology, and mitigation.

The options the minister referred to are the so-called 'bracketed text', on which no consensus has been reached among countries. Until they are agreed, the brackets cannot be removed and there can be no final document.

Areas of interest

Among the Caribbean's particular areas of interest are loss and damage; 1.5 degrees Celsius as the target for a cap on greenhouse gas emission increases; and additional, predictable, and adequate financing.

"What has been happening since that draft text was distributed is that the various groups have been meeting to review the text to identify where there are possible areas of compromise, where there are significant red lines [points of no return] and issues that they cannot live with," he said.

Once those groups - including the Alliance of Small Island States of which CARICOM countries form a part - come back, the process will move forward with a meeting of all countries, as they attempt to reach consensus on a final document.

A mountain to climb

In commenting on the work it would take to get there, one of Jamaica's senior negotiators, Jeffrey Spooner, said: "It is not a hill but a mountain that we have to climb.

"And we all have to climb it, in the interest of the planet for the next generation," he added.

Meanwhile, Spooner said there was no question of the Caribbean pressing home what it needs in order to ensure its survival in the face of climate impacts, including sea-level rise, coastal erosion, droughts, stronger hurricanes, among other things.

"By tomorrow [today], we will know exactly where we stand and, of course, we will still press for our concerns. '1.5 to Stay Alive' and loss and damage - these are two important items for us," he said.

Fletcher agreed.

"By and large, all of our issues are on the table, and that is a good thing. What has to happen now is that we have to fight to ensure that not only do they remain on the table, but that they are reflected in the final text ... ".