KINGSTON, Jamaica: Six Caribbean islands have now endorsed the Copenhagen Accord, a key outcome of the 15th United Nations climate change conference held in Denmark last December.
They are Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.
The six join 131 other countries – including small island developing states like the Maldives – in endorsing the accord, a non-legally binding agreement that critics say is woefully inadequate if the planet is to win the battle against global climate change.
Climate change threatens rising sea levels and the loss of coastal livelihoods; increase in sea levels and the loss of certain marine species; as well as an increase in extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts.
The accord makes allowances for an increase in global temperatures to two degrees Celsius, while providing for fast-track funding for developing countries to adapt to climate change. The agreement also makes provisions for developed countries to provide US$30 billion between 2010 and 2012 for adaptation and mitigation efforts in the developing world. In addition, developed countries committed to mobilizing US$100 billion annually by 2020 to address the climate change needs of developing countries.
“This funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance,” the agreement noted.
However, the Caribbean nations have reservations about the accord.
“It is not that they (Caribbean countries) agree with the accord, but that there are things in the accord that the region can take advantage of,” said Ulric Trotz, science adviser to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. “Our official position really is, accept the accord in the sense that you write to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), but at the same time you should mention reservations.”
Although it has signed the accord, Jamaica has noted reservations with it over the failure to realize a legally binding agreement with greenhouse gas emission reduction targets from the developed world and a move toward limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“The Ministry (of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade) wishes to convey the decision of the Government of Jamaica to associate itself with the accord,” said the island’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its March 30 letter to the UNFCCC secretariat on the matter. “In doing so, the Government of Jamaica wishes to underscore that it considers the accord a political document with no legal status under international law, and that its provisions do not replace or pre-empt negotiations towards a legally binding, ambitious and comprehensive agreement under the UNFCCC and the Bali Roadmap.”
(The Bali Roadmap is comprised of a number of decisions that represent various steps that are essential to reaching a secure climate future.)
Trotz said there were some hopeful signs coming out of the accord and the region would build on them heading towards climate change negotiations to be held in Mexico in November.
“The accord speaks (for example) to considering limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius…That is a hopeful sign that they (developed countries) are willing to take that on,” he said.
Trotz also said that other positive signs were the Caribbean nations’ commitment to providing new and additional funding for adaptation and mitigation and their recognition of the place of forests in any strategy to tackle climate change.