Petre Williams-Raynor, Contributing Editor
JAMAICA MUST this year push for not only "adequate and predictable" financing, but also for further work on the international mechanism on loss and damage, to protect it and other vulnerable countries from slow-onset events such as ocean acidification.
So said Clifford Mahlung, one of the island's seasoned climate negotiators and the Latin America and Caribbean representative on the Adaptation Committee of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
His comments come ahead of the Warsaw climate talks set for later this year.
"The impact of this [ocean acidification] is that our fishing community is now highly threatened, not only by severe weather events, sea-level rise and dangerous storm surges, but [also] by activities that could threaten our conch industry, for example, as the high acidic content of the salt water becomes slowly more concentrated," he told The Gleaner recently.
The island's conch industry earns some US$30 million annually.
"The Jamaican economy depends highly on the marine ecosystem as part of our food security, and an employer of persons who may now need to find alternate livelihoods," Mahlung, a meteorologist, added.
Ocean acidification, he noted, also has implications for the island's coastal aquifers that store fresh water.
"They could become contaminated with sea water due to sea-level rise and the impact of storm surges. These processes are irreversible and so you lose those sources of fresh water," he warned.
Another slow-onset event is rising sea-surface temperatures.
"As the sea water gets warmer, the fish will migrate from the tropics, and that has already started to occur. We will see more of that if we are not able to stabilise the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," Mahlung said. "And even if we do, some of these activities will still occur in the foreseeable future," he added.
"It is, therefore, critical that there is progress on the international mechanism on loss and damage during the Warsaw conference set for November 11 to 22 in Poland.
"The establishment of this international mechanism will provide some of the assurances that these issues will be highlighted and addressed. And Jamaica has been playing a leading role in these discussions so far," he noted.
"This type of mechanism that can, one, provide for those islands that may be lost in terms of rehabilitation of population and, two, in introducing new technologies or the financial assistance that countries will need to diversify into other economic activities, is very important," Mahlung added.
Adequate and predictable financing
On the issue of 'adequate and predictable' financing, the negotiator said the hope was that the promised financing for the Green Climate Fund - agreed to during the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks in Denmark and confirmed at Cancun, Mexico in 2010 - would finally begin to come in.
"The developed countries have already pledged US$100 billion per year up to 2020 for the Green Climate Fund. South Korea has been chosen as the location of the fund and so the pledges for the first replenishment need now to come forward," Mahlung said.
According to the Green Climate Fund's website, "Given the urgency and seriousness of the climate change", its purpose is to "make a significant and ambitious contribution to the global efforts towards attaining the goals set by the international community to combat climate change".