Business

Caribbean islands anxious over climate change

By Marion V. Ali
Staff Reporter

Rich countries which are not prepared to make a concerted effort to change practices which have an impact on climate change run the risk of meeting by themselves at the next international conference on climate change set for December in Peru.

That is because the 15-member states that make up the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) say they are prepared to walk out of the meeting if these countries don’t offer some accord on their willingness to implement corrective action.

The 20th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is expected to come up with a legally binding agreement to be signed next year in Paris.

The agreement is expected to include common ground issues such as working on ways to reduce outputs of carbon gas as well as funding for mitigation for countries affected by global warming, among which are the islands of the Caribbean.

Climate change negotiators have reportedly drawn “a red line”, declaring that if commitments to reduce green house gas emissions are not of a significant amount, they will not accept the agreement.

If CARICOM decides to walk away as a body it would be the first time such a protest has been made, but CARICOM negotiators feel it would send a clear message to richer countries.

A similar discussion in 2009 on how to reduce green house gases yielded no tangible agreement and CARICOM countries feel that having an agreement in place is key to get developed countries to commit to keeping global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. CARICOM countries are also prepared, however, to accept a two-degree Celsius rise as maximum.

Climate change negotiators for the region are said to be concerned that emission levels are very close to tipping point, and that the impacts after that are going to be irreversible.
Climate change negotiators point to phenomena already occurring such as some islands in the Caribbean being affected by floods while others are affected by unusually dry spells.

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