MEMBERS of the Government’s Climate Change Division are optimistic that consensus will be reached on a legally-binding replacement to the Kyoto Protocol at the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris, France later this year.
Jeffery Spooner, director of the Meteorological Services of Jamaica, told editors and reporters at the
Jamaica Observer’s Monday Exchange that one of the objectives of the conference is to achieve a universal agreement to cut carbon emissions and provide financing to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that may suffer the ill effects of the carbon-induced climate change.
“Over the years we have had the climate change convention, which was not a legally binding instrument and which had no targets that were realised. As such the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated. Then, the targets that were set were sufficient for (that period),” Spooner said.
But, according to Spooner, as the emissions of greenhouse gases in particular continue to spiral, the Kyoto Protocol was found to be insufficient to reverse the effects of climate change. Further, some developed countries that had pledged to make financing available to SIDS have failed to follow through on their promise.
“As such, the negotiations for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol have started, and the Ad Hoc working group on the Durham Platform for Enhanced Action [ADP] was implemented to develop a protocol — another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the convention applicable to all parties. The negotiations are continuing with a view of concluding negotiations in Paris,” he said.
Spooner added that he hopes to see ambitious targets to reverse the impacts of climate change.
“This means significant cuts in the emission of greenhouse gases is very important to this agreement. It should be legally binding so parties that are committed are held to their targets. It should be ambitious, therefore, the financial resources pledged in Copenhagen should be legally binding. The loss and damage and the slow onset of climate change should be looked at,” he said.
He added that, given the far-reaching implications of climate change, focus should be shifted from only adapting to the change, to reversing and mitigating the effects while investing in technologies that will aid adaptation.
Asked what was the basis of the Jamaica’s optimism, Albert Daley — who heads the Climate Change Division — pointed to what he described as the commitment of global players, most notably the United States, China and the European Union.
“One of the greatest critics [of the climate change phenomenon] has been the US, but they are less critical now. They are committing to reduce greenhouse gases, so they are now onboard. If one of the greatest critics and the greateat country in the world is on board, then we are hopeful that there will be some sort of agreement in terms of greenhouse gas emissions that will benefit SIDS,” he told the Exchange.
Daley explained that one of the aims of the new agreement is to get large emitters of greenhouse gases to commit to serious reduction in order to stave off a possible global temperature increase.
“If not, we’re heading to a scenario where our temperatures could rise anywhere between two and six degrees centigrade over the next 100 years. If that happens, we’ll be in serious problems. That is why we want this agreement being negotiated to be such that countries commit to substantial reduction in greenhouse gases so that this looming problem will be much less of the problem it has the potential to be,” he said.
Meanwhile, Technical Officer Dr Orville Grey said that the Jamaican delegation has “no choice but to be optimistic”.
“It’s going to take a lot of back and forth. It’s going to take a lot of dicussion in the sidehalls… but based on the outcome of the last session in Geneva, there are signs that people are willing to sit at the table to have an agreement that will have an impact,” Dr Grey added.
Gerald Lindo, a technical officer in the division, argued that getting people to embrace energy efficiency should also be a priority.
“Get people to embrace energy efficiency and set targets for people to cut back overall. In setting the final limit of global warming, it is at two degrees, but according to the Alliance of Small Island States, based on what we’re seeing, we can’t go beyond 1.5 and to get to six. It verges on the apocalyptic,” he said.