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Government looks to merge Climate Change Division with Met office

Published:Tuesday | December 1, 2015 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor
Mahlung was tipped to head the Climate Change Unit.
Jeffrey Spooner, current head of the Met Service.

In a move that could be seen as years in the making, the Government is looking to merge the Climate Change Division with the Meteorological Service.

Precisely what the new entity - dubbed the National Agency for Meteorology and Climate Resilience - will look like is not yet clear, but a consultant is being sought to work through it.

"Potential consultants are currently being sought through a request for proposal document. Based on the proposals submitted by bidders/potential consultants, we anticipate selecting the consultant in December," the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change said in response to Gleaner queries.

According to the terms of reference available online, the consultant is to "conduct a prior options and strategic review of the Meteorological Service Division and the Climate Change Division, as required under Section A of the Executive Agency Act ... to detail and assess the different options to undertake the modernisation and recommend the way forward as an executive agency or other performance-based institution".


Strategic Reviews


Once the consultant does his/her work, a Cabinet submission will likely follow.

"Subsequent to the review and evaluation of the consultant's recommendations, a submission will be made through the internal mechanisms for consideration," the ministry noted.

"We will be guided by the recommendations of the consultant, stemming from the prior options and strategic reviews conducted," it added.

"In keeping with the Government of Jamaica modernisation and transformation mandate, the process is expected to optimise resource allocation and service delivery," the ministry said further.

Meanwhile, news of the amalgamation comes as little surprise. It was close to a decade ago that discussions began concerning the establishment of a Climate Change Unit.

Up to 2008, the expectation was that it would cost in the region of $8.7 million to set up and - operating out of the Climate Branch of the Met Service - be headed by Clifford Mahlung, a seasoned climate change negotiator now retired from the Met Service.

In 2010, then head of the Climate Branch, Jeffrey Spooner - current head of the Met Service - indicated it was still on the cards with expectations that it would:

n liaise with the Ministry of Environment and the Office of the Prime Minister in order to have an input in the formulation of climate policy; and

n advance work on Jamaica's national reports on climate change for submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

At the time, the plan was to have it manned by four people, including two climate change officers and an information officer, in addition to the unit head.

Fast-forward a year and then Minister of Environment Dr Horace Change revealed that, while still in play, his administration would not immediately move on the unit, given changes to do with transformation of the public sector.

In 2012, current Minister of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill announced his plans to establish what he labelled a Climate Change Department.

The Climate Change Division was subsequently established and staffed, reflecting earlier plans for a Climate Change Unit - two climate change officers, one of them responsible for mitigation and the other for adaptation, together with a division head in the person of Albert Daley. They also now have a communications officer working with them.