Jamaica Unruffled By Proposed US Cuts to Climate Research

News that the United States (US) is to cut financing for climate research has been received without worry in Jamaica, where the stated intention is to press ahead with efforts to shore up the island’s resilience to the changing climate.

“We will continue to do what we can in terms of the development of the sector strategies and action plans and to ensure that, sector by sector, community by community and parish by parish, resilience is built right across the island and that the people are engaged in the discourse and taking steps to build their own resilience – and that the challenges which climate change pose is clearly understood,” Principal Director of the island’s Climate Change Division UnaMay Gordon told The Gleaner.

She was responding to comments from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the US, Mick Mulvaney, who said recently that President Donald Trump has been clear in his stance on climate change.

“Regarding the question as to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward, we are not spending money on that anymore. We consider it a waste of your money to go out and do that,” Mulvaney said, addressing reporters at the White House on March 16.

Back in Jamaica this past Tuesday, Gordon added: “I really would not want to comment on what any other sovereign government does. We are taking care of the business of building the resilience of Jamaica for all Jamaicans.”

Still, she said it was the hope that the support received from the US would continue.

“The US has been a good and faithful partner through USAID (United States Agency for International Development) to Jamaica and we would want to thank them for the continued support and we expect that the support will continue in meaningful and tangible ways,” she said.

Gordon’s statements would seem to reflect those of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who last spoke to The Gleaner on the issue of US climate finance flows at the global climate talks in Marrakech in November.

It was there that worry emerged over what it would mean for climate finance should the US opt out of the historic Paris Agreement, which aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change.


And this, through, among other things, “making finance flows consistent with a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development” while implemented “to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances”.

“The signing of the Paris Agreement is a significant movement in the world – towards making some definitive attempts to address the issue of climate change. I believe it is still early days yet for us to cast any conclusions. I am still confident and very optimistic that the movement which has started will not be turned back,” Holness said then.

“There is always room for negotiations, for change, for improvement, and for Jamaica, it is in our interest to ensure that this movement continues because we are susceptible [to climate threats]. We are seeing the effects of increased tropical storms, of sea-level rise, of droughts, unpredictable weather events, which are impacting on our infrastructure – damage to our roads, our gullies, our drains,” he added.

Gordon reiterated those sentiments this week.

“The emotions about the climate change discourse has come a far way. We will continue to see and hear the climate sceptics, but the science is clear and, therefore, we will not be distracted from our mission,” she said.

The United States has been a significant contributor to climate finance over the years, in research and other areas.

To the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, alone, it has contributed some US$2 million annually over the last five years. And has, since the 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen, “ramped up its climate finance for developing countries fourfold”, according to the Overview of the Global Climate Change Initiative: US Climate Finance 2010-2015 report available on the State Department’s website.

“Between 2010 and 2015, the United States allocated $15.6 billion in climate finance across adaptation, clean energy, and sustainable landscapes activities. Additionally, in 2014 the United States pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, the largest pledge by any country,” it added.



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