The OECS warmly welcomes the return of the United States of America to the Paris Agreement, restoring the commitment of the USA to addressing the existential threat to all humanity. The return to the Paris Agreement was enacted on Wednesday, January 20th, 2021, on the Inauguration Day of the 46th President of the United States of America Joseph Biden Jr.
President Biden affixed his signature to 17 Executive Orders on Wednesday including a move to rejoin the World Health Organisation and a move to tackle climate change.
Director-General of the OECS Dr. Didacus Jules applauded President Biden for signalling that climate action and the coronavirus pandemic are at the forefront of the Biden Administration’s agenda because “these are the twin faces of our existential threat.”
In rejoining the global effort to curb the accelerated heating of the planet, President Biden has ignited great expectation among Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that the world can move more aggressively in curbing greenhouse emissions and establish new targets for transitioning to a greener, cleaner environment and economy.
The Governments of the OECS and the wider Caribbean have all heavily invested in prolonged diplomatic advocacy, drawing attention to the grave dangers and the damaging impact of climate change throughout the world but particularly in our region. We have consistently called on the largest contributors to climate change to commit to urgent climate action such as carbon reduction targets and investment in new technologies that can safeguard lives and livelihoods.
The gravity of this threat to the Eastern Caribbean region was brought home to us in September 2017 when several Caribbean countries were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica (and current Chairman of the OECS Authority) Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit jolted the conscience of the world at the United Nations. He passionately addressed the General Assembly within days of Dominica’s utter devastation,
“I come to you straight from the front line of the war on climate change. We as a country and as a region did not start this war against nature! We did not provoke it! The war has come to us! We need action….and we need it NOW!”
The OECS is therefore heartened by the assertion of Todd Stern – the lead US negotiator at COP 21 in Paris – that the message of the Biden Administration is “We are back, let’s move hard. It will be deliberate, aggressive and strategic.”
The OECS notes, with appreciation, the elevation of Climate Change on the US domestic agenda and particularly looks forward to the new commitments that will be brought to the table at the United Nations Climate Conference planned for November 2021 in the United Kingdom.
We expect that tangible action will follow from this and that the call for a Carbon Tax levied on emitters will help to capitalize the pivot to that Greener, Cleaner world and provide support to SIDS to build their climate resilience.