CLOSE to three dozen representatives from various countries and organizations are meeting this week at the Bay Gardens Hotel as Caribbean negotiators prepare for the upcoming Paris talks in December.
Saint Lucia’s Chief Sustainable Development and Environment Officer, Crispin d’Auvergne told The VOICE yesterday that following the 20th Conference of Parties ((CoP) held in Lima, Peru recently, the crucial Paris meeting should see the “adopting of a new global agreement for reducing climate change under the convention.”
This week’s meetings, d’Auvergne said, seek to lay out the negotiators’ position based on analyzing the decisions that arose from the Lima meetings. Much is at stake, he said.
“All the negotiators are pointing towards Paris because that’s where we will have to adopt something that’s going to come into effect in 2020. That is why Paris is so critical – that’s where the landmark deal or a new agreement for climate change will be signed,” d’Auvergne said.
According to d’Auvergne, there are outstanding major concerns related to climate change that call for a collective approach. He believes that reducing the carbon footprints can only be achieved if everyone does their part.
“There are some responsibilities that the public has to take (to) reduce our carbon footprint. What needs to be recognized in the region is that the response to climate change has to be taken at the collective level — private sector, civil society, general populace and government — with government playing a leading role in that process,” d’Auvergne explained.
Among the major concerns outlined by d’Auvergne is that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are increasing faster than was projected back in 1990 and even 1997 when some developed countries pledged to reduce their emissions. The higher the concentration, he said, the greater the impact of climate change and sea level rise, higher storms and increased temperature on agriculture and health, coral reefs, among other things. Another concern relates to the flow of financial and other resources to support adaptation and mitigation in the region.
“There’s also the issue of what is now being described as ‘loss and damage’. You can adapt only to a certain point but if sea surface temperatures become so high that your reefs die off and they never recover, then you cannot adapt any further. That’s where the concept of irreversible loss and damage come in and that is something that the Caribbean and — Saint Lucia in particular – has been pushing and agitating for at the international level in their negotiations,” d’Auvergne said.
d’Auvergne said less rainfall is expected in the coming years as a result of climate change and that the region’s tourism sector can be affected since it is a major consumer of water. Also, any warming in the countries from which the region gets its tourists would mean that whenever those countries are not that cold, it might result in those tourists not needing to come to the Caribbean. An increase in diseases such as dengue due to higher temperatures here can also have the same impact, he said.
While the world has generally not fully met the Millennium Development Goals set for 2015, d’Auvergne said the Caribbean has met quite a few of its own. The region is being proactive, he said.
“This year we’re looking to supersede the Millennium Development Goals with sustainable development goals which will come out as what is known as the Post-2015 Agenda which is going to be negotiated at the United Nations this year,” d’Auvergne said.