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COP21- 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - 30th November to 11th December 2015, in Paris, France

Posted in: Regional News by admin | 23 September 2015 | 2808


    Climate Change has been acknowledged as the most critical challenge currently facing humanity, and indeed the whole planet. The 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), scheduled for 30th November to 11th December 2015, in Paris, France is a crucial conference. It’s approximately 40,000 delegates need to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, to keep global warming below 2˚C.


    COP 21: Importance for the Caribbean

    For the Caribbean, as it is for many other developing countries, this conference may well be the last chance for effective action for survival. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR5) confirms that the climate problem is worsening; and global mean temperature increases could reach 3.7˚C to 4.8˚C by 2100. The Report also confirms that small island developing states (SIDS) will be disproportionately affected by climate change and sea level rise in several key sectors such as on highly vulnerable marine ecosystems, socio-economic sectors and more frequent and severe weather events.

    The Report points to the limited and, in many cases, the lack of capacity in SIDS to respond to the consequences of climate change in the near term at 1.5˚C warming and in the long term at 2˚ warming. This implies that even in the low emissions scenario, SIDS will experience substantial loss and damage. It further implies that the current global commitment to limit global atmospheric temperature increase to below 2˚C above pre-industrial levels is wholly inadequate since it will result in significant and irreversible negative impacts on the people, economies, and ecosystems of SIDS.

    Because of their location, the island nations of the Caribbean are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and climate variability. Increasing hurricane intensity, rising sea levels and soaring temperatures are an ever present threat to the people of the Region. ​

    CARICOM’S position

    The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), which became operational in 2005, coordinates the regional response to climate change. In its coordinated approach to  the challenges of  climate change, CARICOM Heads of Government have concluded that both mitigation and adaptation strategies  will require a significant and sustained investment of resources that Member States will be unable to provide on their own. Meanwhile, CARICOM countries have endorsed the 2009 Lilendaal Declaration on Climate change and Development, which defines the Region’s political position. They have also established a number of Regional projects designed to mitigate the threats posed by climate change and to put in place a long-term Regional strategy and implementation plan to coordinate the efforts of a wide range of organizations across the islands.

     With respect to COP21, key issues   outlining the Region’s position in the UNFCCC Climate Change negotiations for COP 21 includes:

    • The unprecedented opportunity

    The  adoption  of  the  post-­‐2015  development  agenda  will  signal  a  paradigm  shift  towards sustainable development.   However, given that countries are at different stages of development, provision is needed for the diversity among countries to accommodate and facilitate the disadvantaged group of countries identified by the United Nations. One of the harsh experiences the international community has learnt from the implementation of the MDGs is that “one-size does not fit all,” and CARICOM Member States will need to advocate for conditions that best suit their situation. With sustainability as its hallmark, there is an unprecedented opportunity to align actions for development with actions to respond to climate change. It  is  also  opportune  for  the  CARICOM Member States  to  pronounce  on  their  expectations  for  the  new global climate change agreement.

    • No Island left behind

    With adaptation limits likely to be exceeded for SIDs under the current long-­‐term temperature goal, the international community should revisit the 2°C goal.

    A recent report from the Structured  Expert Dialogue  (SED) – a process  established  under the United Nations  Framework  Convention  on Climate  Change  to review  the adequacy  of the agreed  long-­‐term global  goal  of  holding  warming  below  2°C  –  concludes  that  a  1.5°C  goal  would  avoid  or  reduce substantial  risks  that  would  otherwise  be  experienced  at  2°C.    Most significantly it finds that the emission pathways agreed should not exclude meeting a warming limit below 2°C.

    The SED Report coincides with the increasing recognition of the rising level of scientific evidence that indicates  the  2°C  goal  is  inadequate  and  that  ultimately  limiting  warming  below  1.5°C  would  be substantially safer.  For SIDs, the report vindicates its longstanding position that 2°C warming limit is too high and would imperil our very existence. It should also be highlighted that the IPCC AR5 and the 2014 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap report, both confirm that a 1.5°C target is still within reach.  These reports should therefore be taken fully into account by the international community in setting long-­‐term mitigation objectives for the outcome of COP 21.

    • All Hands on Deck

    Urgent action is needed now.   Critical international cooperation within the framework of a legally binding protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which links that action with the ultimate objective of the Convention is a sine qua non for COP 21.

    The AR5 and the SED report confirm that while the world is not on track to achieving the 2°C warming limit, limiting global warming to below a 2°C and especially below 1.5°C is still feasible.  To hold warming below 2°C target with a likely probability, the SED cites the AR5 findings that a reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions of 40-­‐70 percent by 2050 relative to 2010 levels is required.  Cost-­‐effective pathways are characterized in particular by immediate action.

    Such action will pose significant technological, economic and institutional challenges for developing countries and in particular for capacity constrained developing countries such as CARICOM Member States.

    In this connection, CARICOM Member States underscore the need for developed countries to take the lead in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and to provide the means of implementation, including finance, technology  and  capacity  building  support,  consistent  with  their  extant  obligations  under  the  United Nations  Framework  Convention  on Climate  Change  (UNFCCC)  and  additional  obligations  such  as the US$100 billion annually by 2020 commitment undertaken and reaffirmed in COP decisions.   In this regard,   developed   countries   should   provide   clarity   on   how   they   intend   to   achieve   these commitments.   In doing so, clarity must bring certainty.   As a first step, CARICOM Member States urge the earliest conversion of the initial pledges to the Green Climate Fund to legally binding agreements as a tangible demonstration of good faith and to ensure that the Fund can approve its first portfolio of projects before the COP 21.   CARICOM Member States should  further  seek  to  have  the  new  climate  change  agreement  establish  a mechanism  for scaling up finance, and incorporate  the technology  mechanism  as well as the Warsaw REDD+ Framework.

    The  efforts  of  developing  countries  to  meet  their  obligations  should  also  be  recognized  under  the UNFCCC together with the support voluntarily rendered to developing countries on the basis of South-­‐ South cooperation.  At the same time, it should be recognized that those efforts could be accelerated and further enhanced with adequate additional and predictable support as aforementioned   and including through innovative sources of financing.

    • No derogation from special consideration of SIDs

    The UNFCCC recognizes that small island developing states and low lying coastal states are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and further provides that the special needs and circumstances of the SIDs should be given due consideration in all aspects of the implementation of the Convention. CARICOM Member States maintain that there should be no derogation from this recognition and commitment in any COP decision or future implementing agreement under the Convention.


    • Adaptation an imperative, proportionate to mitigation

    With scientific evidence of approaching adaptation limits relative to different emissions scenarios, the relationship  between  mitigation  and  adaptation  should  be  articulated  in  the  new global climate  change agreement.   A high global mitigation ambition would reduce the amount of adaptation required.   The most recent estimates suggest that the developing world will require approximately US$140 to US$300 billion a year by 20501 to adapt to climate change. Taking the most recent commitments for adaptation in 2013 and the lowest estimated needs by 20501, adaptation finance will need to increase by 438 percent by 2050. As such, the CARICOM Member States advocate for the UNFCCC to incorporate commitments for support for adaptation relative to the commitments for mitigation.   It is critical therefore  that the new regime establishes  a clear  link  from  a  global  mitigation  goal,  to  clear  emissions  pathways  relative  to  that  goal,  and commitments for support to adaptation proportionate to achieving the global mitigation goal.


     1 $26 billion in committed adaptation finance in 2013, and $140 billion in adaptation needs (source: UNEP (2014). “Adaptation Gap Report.”)


    • Responding to loss and damage as a legal objective

    Weak implementation of greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments is leading to irreparable loss and damage.    Adaptation  and  mitigation  will  not  be  sufficient  to  prevent  all  future  losses  and damages.  It is not now  clear  what  these  additional  costs  will be and/or  how  much  of these  can be attributed to climate change. Still, it is important to start addressing such limits now. On the adoption of  the  UNFCCC,  while  such  consequences   were  not  provided  for,  an  insurance  mechanism   was envisioned.   As such, the new regime should provide for loss and damage in a manner that establishes the response to loss and damage as a specific objective under the Convention.

    The Caribbean Community Climate change Centre (CCCCC) is the principal Community Institution coordinating and managing CARICOM’s response to climate change. In this context, it continues to implement a range of innovative solution and projects to reduce the effects of climate change on the environment and livelihoods across the Region. Ongoing projects include: