Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has told an international meeting that he, as Chairman of the Caribbean Community, has placed climate change at the top of his agenda as it presents a challenge and an opportunity for the region.

While delivering a statement at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta, during a Climate Change Session, Mr. Stuart said climate change was a challenge the region could not ignore as it threatened the fabric of societies and economies.

???A timely and ambitious response, however, provides an unparalleled opportunity for our region to be in the forefront of the global transformation to a low carbon climate resilient economy,??? he suggested.

The Prime Minister told the diverse group of leaders that they must send clear political messages to their Ministers, negotiators, and the world, of their collective commitment and resolve to finalise an ambitious agreement in Paris that helps them place the world on a below 2 or 1.5 degree Celsius pathway.

He expressed the view that the draft Leaders??? statement, which was before them as version six, was a significant improvement over previous drafts. He opined, however, that the clarity of message was missing in two critical areas.

???First, I do not believe that we are signalling strongly enough that we will work to ensure that the Paris agreement will not lock in a level of ambition that would make the below 2 or 1.5 degree goals improbable. As I stated in September in New York, at an informal working lunch convened by the UN Secretary General, the best way of guarding against this risk is through regular five-year review cycles that would help to inform the updating of national commitments.

???This was included in the conclusions of that lunch hosted by the Secretary General, and was subsequently also included as a key element in the French-Chinese joint statement on climate change a few weeks ago. Surely we as the Commonwealth can be as ambitious! I therefore hope that as leaders we can agree to strengthen the relevant sub paragraph in the draft??? by replacing the phrase ???periodic and regular??? with ???five-year???,??? he said.

Mr. Stuart pointed out that the second issue had to do with the treatment of loss and damage. He explained that it was acknowledged in the document that some of the countries were already suffering significant loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.

However, he stated that in one of the paragraphs the officials simply recognised that loss and damage was an important issue that should be addressed in the Paris outcomes.

???In a group where some of its members face an existential threat from climate change, we can do much better. I suggest we make a strong call for the Paris outcome to scale-up and strengthen global support to minimise, avert and address loss and damage in particularly vulnerable countries and regions,??? he argued.

Mr. Stuart urged the leaders to commit to supporting President Hollande and his team to deliver ???an ambitious legal agreement in Paris that sends a clear signal that a decarbonised future is inevitable???.

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