Sat | Dec 16, 2017

Earth Today | Jamaica fields sizeable team to global climate talks

Published:Thursday | November 9, 2017 | 12:00 AM
This September 23 photo shows some of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Maria in Roseau, the capital of Dominica.

WHILE THE effects of the recent hurricanes to devastate Caribbean islands linger, Jamaica has fielded a sizeable team to this year's international climate talks now under way in Bonn, Germany.

"It is a fairly significant delegation. There are Government of Jamaica representatives, academia, civil society, and the private sector," said Colonel Oral Khan, chief technical director in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

The team numbers more than 12 individuals, the majority of whom are self or otherwise grant funded.

Representatives - whose participation has been staggered over the next two weeks of the negotiations - include officers from the Climate Change Division, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Forestry Department, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, and the Planning Institute of Jamaica, together with a number of non-governmental organisations and the GEF Small Grants Programme.

Of course, not all representatives are designated climate negotiators, but the numbers help to provide the island with an ear in several sessions, while enhancing individual knowledge and awareness of climate change issues.

 

WIDESPREAD SENSITISATION NECESSARY

 

"Climate change is going to affect all sectors, not only persons in the Climate Change Division. So others need to be sensitised as to what is going on," Khan said.

"The private sector internationally (for example) is getting involved, especially in mitigation efforts. But there are also adaptation-type activities that they can get involved in as well. Also, because funding from the GCF (Green Climate Fund) will be open to the private sector, it is good for them to go to learn about what is being done in other countries by the private sector," he added.

Meanwhile, many worry over what could be a new 'regime of extreme' associated with climate change and others pick up the pieces following the loss of lives and billions of dollars in damage suffered, courtesy of the pummelling from the hurricanes.

Hurricane Maria, for example, packing category five strength, left Dominica in shambles while Barbuda is uninhabitable, thanks to Hurricane Irma.

It is against this background that Jamaica, as other Caribbean SIDS, have loss and damage associated with climate change as one of their priorities for the talks, which, for the first time, have a SID president - Fiji.

"Jamaica negotiates as part of the SIDS bloc (Alliance of Small Island States) and the G77 and China, and the issues are basically the same. 1.5 degrees Celsius (as a global warming target) is still very significant for us and how we treat with loss and damage, particularly given the hurricanes to affect the Caribbean," Khan said.

Local scientist Professor Michael Taylor agreed on the priorities.

"I want to see the SIDs issues on the table thoroughly discussed, including things like pathways to 1.5 degrees. The NDCs (nationally determined contributions to greenhouse gas emission reductions) would have to come in, in terms of mitigation and support for mitigation activities. And, of course, adaptation, bearing in mind we are not the large emitters, and a discussion of loss and damage," he noted.

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