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CARICOM mobilises for Marrakesh talks

Published:Thursday | September 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor

Despite the successful inclusion of 1.5 degrees Celsius as a target in the Paris Agreement to address global climate change, Caribbean leaders and negotiators are continuing their push for a climate-secure region.

They met earlier this month for the CARICOM climate change negotiators and ministerial meeting at the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort to coordinate their efforts going into this year's climate change discussions set for Marrakesh.

"It was very useful," said Dr Orville Grey, senior technical officer with responsibility for adaptation at Jamaica's Climate Change Division, of the September 5-7 meeting.

"What it did for us is helped us to prepare, especially from the perspective of SIDS (Small Island Developing States), where you don't necessarily have a lot of resources (or) a lot of persons going to meetings to cover all the agenda items," he added.

"We have to look at how we get different member states to cover the various agenda items and all of us being able to understand what is happening across the board and be able to act," Grey, who is also one of Jamaica's climate negotiators, further said.

The Paris Agreement charts the course for a global climate change response, aiming to:

• hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

• increase the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development in a manner that does not threaten food production; and

• make finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.




Going into Marrakesh, the key issues for the Caribbean are what they have been for some years now: finance, technology, capacity building, adaptation, loss and damage, and mitigation.

Newly added to that list, Grey said, is the "early entry into force of the Paris Agreement and any agenda item related to that".

"We are pushing for parties to ratify because the sooner we can have it enter into force, the better it is for us to try to get 1.5 as a realistic target," Grey said.

"We want to maintain the momentum we got in Paris so that people don't think the job is already done. Paris was a huge success in a lot of ways, but we are not there yet."

The region's success with Paris Agreement can be credited, at least in part, to the 1.5 To Stay Alive campaign implemented by Panos Caribbean and regional actors, including the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.

Other partners included 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, they were able to mobilise and energise artists, media workers, civil-society organisations, and government officials who worked together to raise awareness of the importance of the negotiations and their implications for the region.

They also made the argument that the fight against climate change is also the fight against poverty and for social justice.

At the end of the campaign, a Facebook page and Twitter account with hundreds of followers had been created; a 1.5 To Stay Alive Selfie Video Challenge was launched; a flash mob involving Panos' Voices for Climate Change Education artistes was staged; and a group of journalists and two artistes had participated in the talks.