Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott listening attentively to discussions at the virtual Seventh CARICOM-Japan Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction. (GP)

An appeal has been made to step-up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-induced impacts, which negatively impact Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator, Dr. Jerome Walcott, delivered these virtual remarks at the Seventh CARICOM-Japan Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.

“We all have to work assiduously to increase climate action, build resilience and lower emissions.  In addition, it is imperative that climate finance is urgently increased and that the global community acts quickly and with a high level of ambition to make up for delays in financing commitments under the Paris Agreement,” Minister Walcott implored.

He explained why an urgent increase in climate action was needed, saying:  “Climate change is one of the most serious environmental problems affecting Small Island Developing States like ours. SIDS are characterised by their exposure to a variety of risks and with limited capacity to effectively respond to them when they occur. This is particularly true for us in the Caribbean, being especially susceptible and vulnerable to natural disasters every year.

“The regularity of natural disasters as seen in recent years, gives countries in our region a narrow window of opportunity to recover and rebuild their resilience. The 2021 hurricane season has only just started and already Barbados and St. Lucia have been affected by Elsa, a Category 1 hurricane which has caused a great deal of damage and destruction to the housing stock here in Barbados and which was preceded by considerable ash fall from La Soufriere in April this year.”

Senator Walcott stressed that in order for SIDS to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change, new and additional financial resources must be mobilised from all sources. 

He pointed out that the countries of CARICOM are keen to see the continuation of a long-term finance programme under the Conference of the Parties (COP); and urged countries to fulfil their financial commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The Foreign Minister noted this was especially necessary as the majority of SIDS’ funds have been “diverted to deal with the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

While emphasising that Barbados was committed to undertaking significant mitigation and adaptation measures, Senator Walcott pointed out that Barbados has not wavered in fulfilling its climate change actions.

He reported that Barbados, like several other CARICOM countries, had updated its Nationally Determined Contribution to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in line with new national priorities.

Senator Walcott highlighted a few of Barbados’ planned adaptation and mitigation measures, which include: Barbados’ goals to become a fossil fuel free economy and to achieve a 100 per cent generation of electricity from renewable energy by 2030; the electrification of the transport sector, which accounts for 30 per cent of Barbados’ total energy use; the goal of planting one million trees over the next five years in order to reduce Barbados’ emissions profile, as well as, investing in food security.

Minister Walcott applauded Japan for working assiduously to focus attention on the special vulnerabilities of SIDS and disaster risk reduction, and acknowledged that country as an important and dependable partner to the region.

“We are grateful for the assistance which Japan has extended over the years to CARICOM member states…, [and] Barbados is also very grateful for Japan’s continued support of the Green Climate Fund, from which the island-states and low-lying countries in our region stand to benefit hugely,” he noted.

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