JIS News

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is giving high priority to climate change diplomacy, given the serious long-term threats to the country’s economic livelihood from the environmental phenomenon.
“The Ministry is committed to providing maximum diplomatic support for the climate change negotiations and consultations that are now in high gear,” said Portfolio Minister Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh on Wednesday (July 29) in his contribution to the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.
He informed that world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark in December this year at the 15th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to establish binding commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions under a new regime to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
“There is no question that climate change presents a fundamental development challenge for small, vulnerable, island states like Jamaica. Its impact and consequences cannot be overstated,” Dr. Baugh said.
“Climate change is already visible in rising sea levels and storm surges, coastal flooding, and extreme weather patterns, such as more frequent and intense hurricanes, which have wiped out our banana export industry,” he added.
The Foreign Affairs Minister noted that extreme weather patterns have also led to beach erosion, coral bleaching and pose serious threats to marine species and other natural ecosystems that live along the coastline.
“When we consider that Jamaica, overwhelmingly, depends on its coastal zone for much of its economic and social activities, including tourism, then it becomes frighteningly obvious that climate change is a clear and present danger to our development prospects,” Dr. Baugh stated.
Most of the island’s infrastructure, including the airports, hotels, some hospitals, and the road network, are located within the coastal zone, where the majority of the population also live and work. There is therefore greater risk of major structural damage and human dislocation in the event of a major hurricane.
He said that the Government was “cautiously optimistic” that an agreement will emerge in Copenhagen that will set more ambitious targets to substantially reduce emissions. He noted however that climate change goals cannot be met without the political will of the major emitters of greenhouse gases.
“It is our view that it is only fair that the industrialised countries acknowledge their historic responsibility for global warming and take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, any worthwhile global treaty to limit emissions must also involve all current major emitters, which include both developed and developing countries,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said.
Dr. Baugh stated that in addition to an effective international response to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions, Jamaica’s climate change position calls for concrete action on adaptation, mitigation, capacity-building, technology transfers and the provision of financial resources to assist developing countries to cope with the inevitable effects of climate change.
He further noted that serious focus must be given to integrating climate change into broader sustainable development planning to ensure that climate change considerations are fully integrated into sectors such as coastal zone management, water resources, tourism, health, human settlement and transportation.

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