|Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean??|
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, has emphasised that "the capability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other vulnerable developing countries to adapt to climate change, depends on the willingness of the [world’s] major emitters to substantially and permanently reduce their greenhouse gases levels within a defined timeframe."
She made this declaration today when she delivered remarks at the opening of a high-level diplomatic course on Climate Change and International Negotiations organised by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s at United Nations (UN) House.
"The current emission reduction pledges for 2020 made at Copenhagen in 2009 puts the world on a pathway to at least 3.5 degrees celsius or more of global warming, which puts in jeopardy the survival of a large number of SIDS and other vulnerable countries," Minister McClean pointed out.
Emission pledges have been made by a number of developed countries following stipulations of the Copenhagen Document from the 15th session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.?? Pledges aim to prevent hazardous anthropogenic (human causing) activities that contribute to climate change and seek to bring about a reduction in global temperatures to below two degrees Celsius.?? However, the Copenhagen document is not legally binding.
The Foreign Affairs Minister explained that "science has warned that if global emissions do not peak by 2015, we might, forever, lose the opportunity to achieve the below two degree Celsius goal, let alone the more ambitious 1.5 degree goal supported by over 100 vulnerable countries."
Noting that Barbados was encouraged by the outcome of the 17th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Minister McClean observed that "in our views it (the outcome) preserves the multilateral rules-based legally binding climate regime."
"The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action has created significant potential for moving the global climate agenda forward, but it is now our task to build on the progress achieved," she added.
Minister McClean remarked that the Barbados Government had identified as a key foreign policy priority, "an urgent and ambitious global response to climate change."
She outlined that the consequences of climate change, such as elevated air and sea-surface temperatures, sea-level rise and a frequency of extreme weather conditions, would adversely impact the economic and social development of the island.
"While all of us in the Caribbean and Latin American region will face the same impacts, the small size, high exposure and narrow resource base of Caribbean economies, make us particularly vulnerable to the ravages of climate change," she observed.
Asserting that the tourism industry in Barbados accounted for more than 40 per cent of the island’s Gross Domestic Product, 50 per cent of the total export earnings and over 40 per cent of employment, the Minister noted that "as one of the lowest-lying countries in the region, there is no single greater threat to the sustainability of the tourism industry in Barbados, and, by extension, our economic viability, than the threat posed by climate change."
Stressing that it was this reality that drove Barbados’ engagement in the international discourse on climate change, the Foreign Affairs Minister told participants at the workshop that "we have legitimate and well-founded concerns about the extent to which we might be able to adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change".
Today’s Climate Change and International Negotiations Course was attended by 20 representatives from 17 Caribbean and Latin American Ministries of Foreign Affairs.?? Participating countries included Bolivia, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, M??xico, Nicaragua, Panam??, Paraguay, Per??, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and Trinidad.??