LaRocque indicated that CARICOM countries had a unified voice at COP21 and he “wanted to pay tribute to the excellent work done by the Climate Change Centre for preparing the community for what I consider to be a sucessful outcome of the COP21 in Paris.”
The Paris Agreement commits all counties to limit global warming to as far below 2 degrees Celsius as possible striving to stave it off at 1.5 degrees. This will require all countries to undertake ambitious efforts to limit their emissions of greenhouse gases which are produced primarily by the use of fossil fuels and deforestation. The Agreement also acknowledges that counties are already experiencing the adverse impacts of climate change, that those impacts will continue to increase and that urgent action is required to undertake measures to enable communities to adapt to extreme and slow onset events precipitated by climate change. In a major victory for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and all Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the Agreement contains an article on Loss and Damage in which countries agree to cooperate to address irreversible and permanent loss and damage, and non-economic losses and work on resilience, risk management and insurance solutions.
Developed countries have pledged to continue their efforts to leverage US$100 billion per year to assist developing countries in their mitigation and adaptation efforts through 2025 and to raise that baseline after 2025. Similar pledges have been made for the transfer of technology and capacity building. A significant provision of the Agreement requires all countries to participate in a transparency framework in which all countries will report biennially on the actions they have undertaken to meet the mitigation and adaptation pledges they made in their nationally determined contributions which will be submitted every five years. In addition developed countries are required to report on the level of support they have provided and an indication of what they will provide, while developing counties will report on the support they require and what they have received.
The CARICOM Climate Change Centre is especially pleased that the Paris Agreement will be informed by science. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been mandated to produce a Special Report in 2018 on the impacts of global warming at 1.5°C above pre-industrial level and emission pathways to attain that target. The Centre played a major role in advocating for that target and for ensuring that the region was well represented and prepared to engage effectively in the negotiations in Paris. With the support of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (UK-DFID) it prepared technical papers and convened annual regional meetings to develop informed regional positions. With additional support provided by the Climate Development and Knowledge Network (CDKN) and the High level Support Mechanism (HLSM), these efforts were scaled up in 2015 as the Centre convened several technical and ministerial meetings and sessions of the CARICOM Task Force and the Regional Coordinating Committee which resulted in a Declaration on Climate Change which was adopted by the CARICOM Heads of Government and was the blueprint for the region’s position for COP 21. Its efforts culminated in Paris with a Caribbean-wide pavilion which was used by the Caribbean delegations to showcase their vulnerability to climate change and the efforts they are undertaking to address climate change, to convene strategy meetings and to engage in bilateral meetings. Support for the pavilion was provided by the Government of Martinique and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) among others.
The Centre’s efforts in 2016 will now turn towards ensuring that its member States formally adopt the Agreement as soon as possible, that they are prepared to undertake the obligations of the Agreement and that they can take full advantage of the opportunities provided in the Agreement.