Jamaica readies for 2016 climate talks
Jamaica has begun preparations to participate in this year's international climate talks set for Marrakesh in November, having earlier inked the historic Paris Agreement, which emerged from last year's negotiations, held in France.
"I know the Government intends to be represented as usual, so discussions have started on the complement of the team to go and how we will fund that participation," Colonel Oral Khan, chief technical director in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation told The Gleaner.
On Earth Day this year, Jamaica - represented by Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith - was among the more than 100 countries to sign the agreement that was the result of years long wrangling among world leaders and their technical teams.
In signing, they signalled their intent to ratify the deal, which sets out the road map for what many hope will be a climate-secure future, given its goal to hold "the increase in the global average temperature to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change".
The inclusion of 1.5 in the text constituted a victory for small-island developing states, including those of the Caribbean. The icing on the cake for the Caribbean lobby was the region's 1.5 to Stay Alive campaign - the collaborative effort of Panos Caribbean; the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre; the Saint Lucia Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology; the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States; and the Regional Council of Martinique.
With funding from the Caribbean Development Bank, the campaign ran over five months - from October 2015, ahead of the Paris Talks, through February 2016.
Over the period, artists, artistes, media workers, civil-society organisations and government officials worked together to raise awareness of the importance of the negotiations and their implications for the region.
The key message conveyed was the need for a transparent and verifiable agreement that limits carbon emissions and ensures global temperatures do not rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
It also sought to highlight the fact that it is the poorest countries, communities and people who are the most vulnerable to climate change, and that the fight against climate change is also the fight against poverty and for social justice.
Among the products from the campaign were a Facebook page (www.1point5.info) and Twitter account (@1point5OK) that attracted hundreds of followers; the 1.5 Selfie Video Challenge (http://www.1point5.info/actscentral); and a flash mob held in Jamaica and involving Panos' Voices for Climate Change Education artistes.
There were also a number of creative outputs from artists, including Jonathan Guy-Gladding, out of Saint Lucia, who did a painting that bears the name of the campaign; and the production of a new album titled Earth Inspired that features the 1.5 to Stay Alive campaign theme song - available at soundcloud.com/panos-caribbean - and individual songs by artistes Aaron Silk, Minori Russell, Pam Hall and Lovindeer.
Aaron Silk and another Caribbean artiste Adrian 'The Doc' Martinez also attended and performed at the Paris Talks as part of the campaign. In doing so, they attracted onlookers to not only the Caribbean pavilion, but also helped to focus the spot light on 1.5 degrees Celsius as a necessary ingredient in the new climate deal.
Whether this year's talks - which constitute the 22 Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - will yield anything momentous remains to be seen.
"This COP is not one of the big ones that is going to create a lot of excitement. But we have the Paris Agreement now; we have to keep our vigilance," he said.
"We are hoping that even one of the larger emitters will sign off [on the Paris Agreement] before Marrakesh. That would give a big boost going into those discussions and could possibly bring along sufficient parties to ensure that the agreement could come into force even before 2020," Khan added.
Up to August 23, there were 180 signatories to the Paris Agreement.
"Of these, 23 states have also deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval accounting in total for 1.08 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions," reveals the UNFCCC website.
With only 23 states having so far ratified, the journey to having the agreement enter into force could prove long.
The agreement itself stipulates that it shall enter into force on the 30th day after the date on which "at least 55 parties to the Convention (UNFCCC) accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession".