Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Jamaica holds judgement on future of US climate finance flows

Published:Tuesday | November 22, 2016 | 11:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor

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 2010-2015 report 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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