Caribbean Places Cards On The Table Ahead Of Climate Change Talks

August 6, 2015




Caribbean negotiators will be seeking compensation for loss and damage and will demand a legally binding agreement ahead of key climate talks in Paris later this year.

Non-government organisations, regional governments and other interest groups have been meeting the last few months to finalise and harmonise their approach ahead of the Conference of Parties (COP) in December.

Although said to be “very prepared” Caribbean negotiators will face an uphill task in convincing industrialised nations to compensate them for climate change related damage, according to Dr James Fletcher, a St Lucia parliamentarian.

He told OBSERVER media that the region wants compensation for loss and damage because some events cannot be adapted to.

“For example, sea level rises where you lose acres of coastline. You can’t adapt to that because you are obliterating livelihoods,” Dr Fletcher said.

He said Caribbean governments want compensation because climate change has led to higher levels of acid in the ocean “so now your coral reefs are dying and your shell fish are dying.”

Dr Fletcher, who is also St Lucia’s Sustainable Development minister, said developed countries are resisting efforts to have a loss and damage clause as part of the December agreement.

“So anytime there is a discussion about compensation, the developing countries retreat,” he said, adding that the issue is likely to “muddy the waters.”

According to Dr Fletcher, industrialised nations who are the main culprits of climate change are more comfortable with providing long-term climate finance to countries like Antigua & Barbuda.

The Caribbean Community and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are also likely to push more than words on paper.

“There must be a legally binding commitment,” Dr Fletcher said, noting that the goal may not be easily attainable.

“But we recognise, for us, that it’s life or death and the only thing to give us comfort is if we leave Paris with a legally binding agreement,” he said.

The Caribbean will also be rallying for an agreement that respects the science of climate change and its specific impact on SIDS.

Dr Fletcher said the agreement must also reflect strong ambition to cap global warning to no more than 1.5 per cent.

Importantly, he said, the agreement must also have proper and simplified access to climate financing.

The Caribbean is arguing that if these and other measures are not agreed upon in Paris it would change the life of the Caribbean as we know it, displacing hundreds of thousands of people and cost the region billions of dollars in damage.





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