Tue | Jan 23, 2018

Eleanor Jones: Marrakech mission accomplished

Published:Thursday | December 8, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Eleanor B. Jones, managing director, Environmental Solutions Limited.
Participants in the Green Zone of the recent climate talks held in Marrakech are a study in fascination as they examine this electric car on display.

For Eleanor Jones, head of Environmental Solutions Limited (ESL), it's mission accomplished following her recent participation at the global climate talks held in Marrakech.

If nothing else, she said there is renewed excitement about doing something about climate change and an affirmation of the role of the private sector in the effort.

"There is an excitement about taking action. The focus is on action, on implementation. Everybody now has to do something, and the diversity of participants, the countries, the agencies is very stimulating," she told The Gleaner from the talks two weeks ago.

"There are several different perspectives, but three themes that keep popping up are 'innovation', 'capacity building' and 'finance'. For each one, we apply that to all the sectors. From my perspective as a private sector actor, the question is how do you get them to really buy into the need to build climate resilience?" she queried.

"Climate mitigation is an easier sell in that it involves energy and you see the results more readily to a bottom line. They (private sector players) are not thinking of it as mitigation but cost saving. So what is happening is that they are looking increasingly at how businesses can play a role in not only what they do, but how they drive this energy," she noted.

It is one of a number of opportunities she has seen to get the message across to her colleagues inside the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, who she represented on the island's delegation to the talks.

The displays at the designated Green Zone at this year's talks, she said, were also inspiring.

"When you look at the Green Zone, a lot of the innovation has to do with the electric cars and how they handle waste in major airports and ports.

Some of those innovations are seen as impetus to push through on actions to safeguard climate resilience, even in the face of a possible decline in US financial support with the election of a new president.

"Some of the fear is that the US is such a major player with the finance that if they pull out, you won't have the money to do the research and so on. If they pull the money, it will be a major setback. However, within the US, the individual states have made tremendous strides toward building climate change resilience," observed Jones.

Small island developing states (SIDS) should draw inspiration from that, in the push toward climate resilience.

"We cannot afford as SIDS to sit back. We have to look seriously at not only mitigation, but also adaptation. This is where we need private sector to understand that whatever investments they make, you have to look at what the climate risk is. Climate resilience comes in terms of health and water too. When we talk about chikungunya, for example, there was a major impact on businesses," she noted.

Jones said she is personally committed to that effort.

"I have always been. This has been my passion and the reason for even starting ESL... We wanted to not just talk the science, but to show people solutions," she said.