Secretary-General of the United Nations, President of the 70th General Assembly, Fellow Heads of State and Government, Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen???
Secretary-General, as Prime Minister of Barbados, I had the honour of chairing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in the latter half of 2015, and of being actively involved in the adoption of the Paris Agreement, at a time that witnessed this historic milestone in global environmental governance.
I can assure you that, as a region, CARICOM lauds this achievement largely because it accorded truthful consideration to the vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), as enshrined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This has been, and remains, the principled negotiating position of Barbados, and I believe of the entire SIDS community.
Secretary-General, this year Barbados is celebrating its 50th Anniversary of Independence and today, alongside several other CARICOM Member States, will sign and ratify the Paris Agreement. This action also sanctions the consideration and acceptance of Barbados??? first Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UNFCCC, submitted last year in advance of COP-21.
We consider the scope of the communicated actions to be both ambitious – in terms of our contribution to the global effort, as well as necessary for the pursuit of our low-carbon, sustainable development aspirations. We know the challenges that will confront us and therefore look to the Paris Agreement and the other instruments of the UNFCCC as facilitative mechanisms that will enable us to meet, or even exceed, our communicated obligations.
Secretary- General, the famous American industrialist, Henry Ford, said and I quote:?????Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success???.??Accordingly, with this Agreement, the question before us now is how do we as a global community work together to successfully achieve our stated goal of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
In light of recent reports that 2015 was the hottest year on record and of the study that concluded that climate forecasts underestimated the sea-rise impact of Antarctic thaw, there is no time for complacency. These reports oblige us to actively and with determination build on the positive spirit cultivated in Paris, through real actions to deliver on our established obligations.
The contribution of vulnerable and fragile Small Island Developing States like Barbados will be constrained by the development of the operational modalities to support the implementation of the Agreement; by the outcomes of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 ??C above pre-industrial levels; and by the facilitative dialogue among parties. These modalities and the special report are both scheduled for delivery in 2018 as interim measures of our collective actions.
Finally Mr. Secretary-General, we commend all those who responded to the call of history, and highlight the fact that those who will both sign and ratify the Paris Agreement today are mainly SIDS. The continued dynamic leadership of your office and the UNFCCC secretariat in this global undertaking to address climate change are vital.
The very existence of Small Island Developing States like Barbados demands nothing less. Together we will survive, but left alone we will surely perish.??I thank you.