‘1.5 To Stay Alive’ Makes Waves at COP21

ONE point Five (1.5°C) to Stay Alive – that was the position adopted by Small Island Developing States at the United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties being held in Paris, France. While larger countries debated what is realistic in terms of limiting global warming, countries like Saint Lucia and other SIDS pushed their mantra of “1.5 To Stay Alive”.

Image: Fletcher with a delegate at COP21
Fletcher with a delegate at COP21

That position which has now been adopted by South Africa and Australia, surpasses the 2 degrees Celsius adopted in 2010. The number of voices agreeing to the 1.5° C threshold is growing and getting louder.

Dr. James Fletcher, Saint Lucia’s Minister for Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology has consistently maintained that climate change is an existential issue – a matter of life or death for small island nations. He is quoted in the Washington Post as saying, “I left with the mandate that I cannot come back (from Paris) without 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

Minister Fletcher told the New Zealand Herald that he expects resistance from some countries to the 1.5 goal. “It’s a fight that really should not be focused on numbers – 1.5, 2, 2.5. It should be focused on lives. We’re not fighting for numbers, we’re fighting for lives,” he said.

Ahead of his departure to Paris, the Minister was supported by local and regional artistes in bringing awareness of the Caribbean’s position to the wider public. This effort was soundly supported by the Caribbean Youth Environment Network, CYEN, who presented promotional material as well as artist renditions of the 1.5 catchphrase. Dr. Fletcher promised to display them at the Caribbean Pavilion at COP21.

The world’s small island states are also pushing to include “loss and damage” in the legally binding text of the main COP21 agreement. Speaking to the BBC at the end of the first week of COP21, Senator Fletcher said he was “heartened” by the ensuing discussions.

“I believe there is language – and I have been speaking to both the U.S legal people and our legal people – and urging them to come up with language that I believe will address this. I think we are closer now. I have seen language that might even suggest that, I think, that there is a solution. But it’s not left up to me,” said Dr. Fletcher.


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