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New Jamaican government urged to make climate change a priority

Panos Caribbean has urged the new prime minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, and his team to give priority to climate change, especially in light of developments at the Paris Climate Talks, held in December 2015.

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Jamaica had a strong delegation present at the talks and has provided leadership on climate change matters for the Caribbean. Panos said it is hopeful that the momentum built coming out of Paris can be continued under the new government.

Under the new deal from the talks, issues such as climate financing and adaptation to climate change were clearly articulated. Jamaica stands to benefit from the provisions under the agreement if no time is lost in ratifying the agreement and fully implementing the island’s climate change policy framework and action plan.

There is already broad consensus from the local scientific community as to the need for urgent action on climate change. This is given the negative, far-reaching implications of climate change for not only Jamaica’s economy, but life as we know it on the island, as elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Already, climate impacts are being felt. Such impacts include sea level rise, more extreme weather conditions — including droughts — and coastal erosion, all of which have implications for critical sectors, such as agriculture and fisheries, and tourism.

Under the former administration, some important strides were made and it is important — subject to deliberations with technocrats, notably from the ministry of environment, including the Climate Change Division and the Meteorological Service — that those gains be used as the foundation to accelerate Jamaica’s climate change response efforts, Panos said.

Some specific areas on which Panos considers there ought to be priority action are:

• Ratification of the new agreement from Paris;
• Climate finance; and
• Climate change mainstreaming, including gender considerations.

Stakeholders from the environment sector — the likes of the Jamaica Environment Trust and the Windsor Research Centre — have also identified the Cockpit Country; planning for sustainable development; protected areas; sanitation and public health; and the enforcement of environmental laws as key issues requiring the prime minister’s attention going forward.

Panos endorsed those additional areas, particularly since their handling will have implications for the island’s capacity to treat with climate change.

Panos said it is willing and available to support the effort to have issues of climate change and the fight for climate justice form a part of the ‘Partnership for Prosperity.’

Credit: Caribbean News Now

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