The Most Hon. Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica
G20 Leaders’ Summit, Buenos Aires, Argentina
30th November – 1st December 2018
Session II: Climate Change Resilience
The small island states of the Caribbean whose case I plead at this summit do not have the luxury of engaging in a philosophical debate on Climate Change. We are on the front lines. Every year without fail one or more of our our islands will be hit by weather events of greater frequency and intensity which can wipe out entire economies several times over in a few hours, as was the case last year.
Small Island developing states must support the strengthening of a global system that secures a commitment to the 1.5 degree target, and the commitment to finance its achievement.
I recently accepted the UN Secretary General’s invitation to Co-Chair the initiative on climate financing, jointly with my French colleague President Macron. I very much hope that we can count on all Leaders around this table to demonstrate their will to meet the longstanding commitment to mobilize the AGREED US$100 billion per annum by 2020 -while we seek as well to harness private sector investments towards the goal of building resilient infrastructure.
While the international community works towards a consensus on the approach to the existential global threat of Climate Change, vulnerable states must act in their own behalf to adapt and build their own resilience. We have a duty to be fiscally responsible, energy smart, and embracive of technology and innovation in this regard. Jamaica holds it self out as a small island state that has embraced fiscal responsibility and energy diversity. With the help of our development partners from the IMF, IDB, and the world bank we have reduced our national debt from 147% of GDP in 2013, to be just under 100% now. With the support of the US We have diversified our energy sector away from heavy fuel oils. However, despite our efforts and ownership of the problem, these gains could be easily reversed with the direct hit of a single hurricane.
It is for that reason that Jamaica has a simple, principle-oriented proposition: Countries that demonstrate fiscal credibility, and develop a track record of fiscal responsibility, but yet remain vulnerable to the fiscal impact of natural disasters, should be eligible for international cooperation and assistance in the acquisition of ex ante financial insulation for the cost of emergency response to natural disaster. Furthermore, GDP should not remain the sole determinant of graduation, where vulnerability so clearly impacts on small islands’ economic resilience. This aligns our commitment to promoting fiscal responsibility, Debt sustainability and climate resilience.
We must move from Climate Talk, to Climate Action.