Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Seven-member Jamaican delegation for climate talks

Published:Friday | November 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Minister Robert Pickersgill - File

WITH THE stakes high at this year's global climate talks, set for Peru next month, Jamaica is to send a delegation of up to seven people to advance its national agenda.

However, making it a reality for all seven has required fund-raising, according to Albert Daley, head of the Climate Change Division (CCD).

In addition to support received through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for three of the seven, he said they had applied for funds from another UN entity as well as dipped into their own coffers.

He was speaking with The Gleaner following the November 6 national consultations on the status of negotiations on climate change, which presents serious socio-economic challenges for Jamaica and other small-island developing states (SIDS).

Greater levels of warming, for example, will prompt an increase in the island's already exorbitant oil bill while more severe hurricanes will compromise the agriculture and tourism sectors.

Meanwhile, with some country delegations numbering more than 20, Jamaica's team is small - but not insignificant.

"The thing about it is, you have a lot of streams of negotiations going on simultaneously ... four or five at any one time. Sometimes they are consecutive, but not always, given the number of items to cover and the timelines," Daley explained.

"So we may have an issue that we are very keen on and would like to be physically present for, but because there is a clash with something else - for example, if we are required to report to the Alliance of Small Island States - we have to go there. But then we miss out on some of the other things we would want to be in on. That is the risk always."

It is a risk best managed by numbers, given that last-minute deals are sometimes brokered, leaving those delegations under-presented at a disadvantage.

Timing and Scheduling

"On the final days of the negotiations when you have to go into the night, because there are so many meetings that a party would schedule a meeting at 11 at night ... or they are writing a text and would seek to adjust it the best way possible, what you have in those situations is people who are tired and then say they have to sleep, so you don't get to represent your country," Daley said.

"And it seems to be a strategic thing where [some parties] leave things until people are tired, because they have much more people as part of their team and so they are always represented where they want to be. Our position is undermined by that," he added.

It is essential, therefore, for SIDS especially to strive for adequate numbers in their delegations to ensure representation on issues of importance to them, including finance for adaptation and greenhouse gas emission cuts.

"The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC [the 20th meeting of which is being held in Peru next month] is the supreme negotiating body where all the issues that have been thoroughly negotiated and agreed on are formally adopted by representatives from 195 countries that are parties to the Convention as the official decision of the Convention," noted former lead climate negotiator for Jamaica, Clifford Mahlung.

"It is difficult or near impossible to change a decision once it has been adopted. Therefore, if countries are serious about being a part of what is decided at the COP, then it is important that there is full representation where the delegation has to bring credentials to allow them to participate in the adoption of the decisions," cautioned Mahlung, who is included in the delegation.

The others are Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister Robert Pickersgill; Met Service boss Jeffrey Spooner, himself a seasoned negotiator; Daley and his two technical officers from the CCD; along with a Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative.