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Armed with increased awareness of the debilitating effect of climate change on the nation's resources, Jamaica will send a delegation to Doha, Qatar, from November 26 – December 7, to give the country a voice in the deliberations of the 18th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The delegation will be headed by Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, who told journalists at a media briefing at his Ministry, on November 16, that as a country that is being severely impacted by climate change, Jamaica has an obligation to attend the conference.

“We must ensure that the country has political and technical delegates at the highest level to engage in negotiations to represent Jamaica’s interests. This will demonstrate to the global community that we insist on being part of the solution and that we want to have our concerns integrated into the decisions made,” he said.

The Minister explained that it is in this forum that “our negotiators share information on climate change and its impact on the country as well as advocate financial and technological support to aid in adaptation." He noted that facilities like the Adaptation Fund, from which Jamaica received US$9.965 million recently, are the result of consistent lobbying by developing states like Jamaica, for the provision of support in the face of climate change.

Noting the increased frequency of storms and hurricanes in recent times and its devastating impact on the island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Minister Pickersgill stated that it is “without a doubt one of the factors impeding economic growth and it will continue to have a negative impact, if we do not find ways to minimise these effects."

In the meantime, Acting Head of the Climate Branch, Meteorological Service and Jamaica’s lead negotiator at the conference, Clifford Mahlung, said the Doha conference could be the catalyst for a paradigm shift in the multilateral process, as the global community responds to climate change.

Among the expectations from the Doha conference, he said, will be the finalisation of negotiations to decide on a Second Commitment Period for the Kyoto Protocol, which means that the participating developed countries will make new commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It can also lead to increased opportunity for carbon trading projects for developing countries like Jamaica, where Jamaica will be able to generate emission credits and sell them to developed countries.

The decision will also be taken at the event to make the Green Climate Fund, which will be hosted in the Republic of South Korea, fully operational. For developing countries like Jamaica, the Green Climate Fund will be the main source of finance to assist the country in implementing projects related to mitigation (reducing emissions); adaptation (coping with the expected impacts of climate change); technology transfer and capacity building.

Mr. Mahlung explained that many of Jamaica’s positions are aligned to those of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the group of countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, so there is strength in numbers, thereby providing them with a more powerful voice in their negotiations.