KINGSTON — Minister of Housing, Environment and Water, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says that Jamaica and other developing countries are fully on board in meeting the requirements to address climate change.
He said that significant progress was made at a meeting in Panama last week, with a draft text prepared, on most of the areas on which there will be negotiations, at November’s 17th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“The private sector, the public sector and citizens, must in their own ways, actively contribute to the adjustments that have to be made to secure a more viable future,” the Minister stated at a Climate Change workshop held today (October 13) at the Wyndham Hotel in Kingston.
The workshop was to review the reports generated from the meeting of Latin American and Caribbean countries in Panama and to prepare Jamaica’s position paper for next month’s COP conference in Durban, South Africa.
Minister Chang informed that some progress has also been made in terms of finance, as developed countries have shown some willingness for long-term financing to address climate change, “and it is our hope that there will be agreement for the Green Climate Fund to be put into operation."
The Green Climate Fund was created at COP 15 in Copenhagen, Denmark as a way to finance mitigation, adaptation, technology and capacity building in response to climate change
At COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico countries pledged $30 billion in funding for 2010-2012, which would then increase to more than three times that amount annually from 2020 with funding from possible sources including international taxes on air flight, trade or financial transactions.
The Minister told the gathering that a recent analysis done by the Economic Commission for Latin America, shows that current climate risks are high, costing the Caribbean region between four per cent and 10 per cent of annual Gross National Product.
He said the report, which will be shortly submitted to Cabinet and Parliament, highlights the impact that climate change will have on Jamaica’s water resources, agriculture, human health, coastal zones and human settlement and tourism.
“We have scientific data and assessments, which show that climate change is real, that it is likely to affect the ability of countries to carry out their sustainable development agendas and that small islands and low-lying coastal areas are the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change,” Dr. Chang stated.
He noted that Jamaica has been experiencing more frequent and severe hurricanes, increase in temperatures and rising sea levels, which has resulted in saline intrusion in fresh water aquifers in South Clarendon, for example.
Jamaica became Party to the UNFCCC in 1995. The objective of the Convention is to achieve stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
Governments are required to gather and share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies and best practices, launch national strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to expected impacts, including the provision of financial and technological support to developing countries, and cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter