We stand on the edge of a precipice. Climate change threatens the very existence of many small island and low-lying coastal states in the Caribbean and around the world.
Amongst other things, climate change has already caused extreme weather events, coastal erosion and changes in weather patterns that have had tragic consequences in our region and beyond.
The international community has a chance to address this existential threat by coming together in Paris for the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change. This conference will take place for 12 days starting on November 30th.
The Caribbean Community, which I have the honour to chair, has been working assiduously to ensure that when the world???s leaders gather in Paris we can all agree to take the necessary measures to combat both the causes and the consequences of climate change.??For us, the agreement that emerges from Paris must do several critical things.
First, all countries must agree to take individual and collective action to curb greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the average temperature increase to one point five (1.5) degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. Any temperature rise above this will endanger the survival of the world???s most vulnerable countries, including those of our Caribbean.
Second, all countries should commit to cooperation, through regular reporting, verification and updating on mitigation and should provide support to the particularly vulnerable small island developing states and least developed countries.
Third, we want to see strengthened support and more financial resources to mitigate climate change and to help countries as they adapt to climate change ??Fourth, CARICOM considers that the question of loss and damage should be addressed separately from adaptation in the new agreement.
Finally, we will advocate strongly for special consideration to be given to the unique circumstances of SIDS and reaffirm the need for Caribbean countries to receive improved and prioritised access to public, grant-based financial support to address climate change.??We cannot afford to allow the international community to squander the opportunity of the Paris Climate Change Conference.
Caribbean countries have exhibited leadership in developing a common framework to support the transformation of their energy systems and are adopting ambitious national strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We are now looking to the international community, with the developed countries taking the lead, to work with urgency and purpose to achieve an ambitious, comprehensive and meaningful outcome in Paris.
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