The international community has a moral responsibility to significantly scale up its support to assist vulnerable countries address the uncertainties, risks and impacts that climate change poses to their economies and societies.
That was Prime Minister Freundel Stuart???s strong message to a high-level small island developing states (SIDS) meeting on climate resilience in Paris.
Mr. Stuart told his audience that one of the greatest challenges which CARICOM and other middle-income countries faced was access to grant and concessionary financing.
???Without access to grant or low cost financing, our region cannot strengthen resilience to climate change. I therefore urge bilateral donors and the multilateral development banks to reform their existing access criteria for climate financing,??? he urged.
He pointed out that at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta, leaders agreed to advance an initiative on debt and climate change. ???It is these practical actions and initiatives that deliver immediate results,??? he stressed.
The Prime Minister offered CARICOM???s full support to the various initiatives launched and expressed the Caribbean Community???s willingness to work with partners on strengthening those commitments.
He said as Chair of CARICOM, he had placed climate change at the top of his agenda and was therefore actively working with other leaders to finalise an ambitious agreement in Paris that would ensure a climate resilient future for the Caribbean and the world.
???I have been asking for the Paris agreement to deliver on two important fronts. First it must avoid locking in a level of mitigation ambition that makes it impossible to stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius. We have to avoid this risk at all costs, and the best way to do so is to agree to review and strengthen commitments every five years, with the first such review occurring before 2020.
???The current national climate plans or INDCs [Intended Nationally Determined Contributions] place us on a 3 degree or more pathway. The Caribbean or the Pacific cannot adapt or build resilience to a 3 degree world,??? Mr. Stuart argued.
He said it was necessary for leaders to embrace the urgency of strengthening resilience to the impacts of climate change. Highlighting Dominica???s recent devastation from tropical storm Erika, he noted that in just a few hours, two decades of development gains were washed away and several lives lost.
???Today, at just one degree of increased warming, these events are becoming the new normal. Estimates of annual losses from climate change impacts in the Caribbean range from 5 to 30 per cent GDP in the coming decades,??? Mr. Stuart disclosed.