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Sep 25, 2018

Caribbean PM Sounds the Climate Change Call at GCAS

The Global Climate Action Summit was held in San Francisco, California on September twelfth to the fourteenth. It is an event that brought leaders and people together from around the world to “Take Ambition to the Next Level,” where climate action achievements were celebrated and deeper worldwide commitments were made. The Earth Journalism Network, with the support of the Stanley Foundation, selected News Five’s reporter Andrea Polanco and nineteen other journalists from developing countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Pacific for a week in San Francisco. The journalists attended several climate change events to learn about what cities and businesses are doing to tackle climate change in an effort to reach climate change targets. Andrea and the other journalists are working to tailor a number of stories to their specific regions. She files this first report.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

There is no denying the fact that the globe is warming at an alarming rate. And the Caribbean remains one of the most vulnerable regions in the world.  In 2017, unprecedented storms caused more than ten billion dollars in damage across the region.

 

Mia Mottley

Mia Mottley, Prime Minister, Barbados

“And that’s at one degree of warming. The world is currently on a path to well over three degrees of warming by the time a child is born today reaches old, even if the countries meet the commitments made of the first round of the nationally determined contributions.”

 

Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, was the only head of Government from the Caribbean to address the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. The summit brought together sub-national governments and businesses from around the world to launch deeper worldwide commitments and actions that can that can put the globe on track to take actions against climate change and realize the historic Paris Agreement.  For countries like Belize and Barbados – it is imperative that we pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to one point five degrees Celsius. Studies show that the point five difference between the one point five and the below two degrees Celsius as set forth in the Paris Agreement, would mean a ten centimeter -higher global sea-level rise by the start of the next century, longer heat waves, and would result in virtually all tropical coral reefs being at risk.

 

Percival Cho

Dr. Percival Cho, C.E.O., Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, and Sustainable Development

“Belize is aligned more along the lines of the SIDS, the Small Island Developing States. And the main demand, the main request that SIDS are making is that we need to be more ambitious in reducing our commitment to cap emissions, so that we maintain a global rise in temperature of only 1.5 degrees maximum. There is some general discussion that we could allow two degrees but at the level of SIDS we are saying that we cannot afford a two degrees increase in global temperatures because we are mostly low-lying states and we are prone to inundations, we are prone to hurricanes. And at two degrees the science has shown that Caribbean SIDS at least and SIDS elsewhere are going to take a very hard and difficult road ahead if we go with two degrees versus one point five.”

 

And so it is important that the rest of the world do its part, as well as to help vulnerable regions with limited adaptive capacity and high exposure. Prime Minister Mottley used the GCAS platform to champion support for the Caribbean region, where she called on the world – governments, businesses and people.

 

Mia Mottley

“The world has lost all of us; lost momentum since Paris in 2015. And although the rate of increase has slowed, we have not yet peaked our global emissions and we must do so by 2020. We really cannot afford to wait any longer. There is much work to be done. An affordable climate finance, believe you me, is greatly needed especially for small island states whose vulnerability is front of you today as I speak. The Green Climate Fund must be replenished, as it is our only hope in many instances. And access to these funds need to be stream-lined.   The agreements and goals that arose out of the week in Paris cannot be forgotten or cast aside, not anymore. The next round of nationally determined contributions will seal our fates for better or for worse.  My friends, my friends across the world, the time for talk has passed. This is truly a time for action, not just the action of leaders and governments, but the actions of you, you and you and you and me.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

 

At the heart of the Paris Climate Change Agreement is the commitment by national governments to review their progress and ratchet up the ambition of national climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions.  The Global Climate Action Summit, set midway between Paris 2015 and 2020, is timed to provide the confidence to governments to ‘step up’ and trigger this next level of ambition sooner rather than later. 

This story was supported by the 2018 Climate Change Media Partnership, a collaboration between Internews’  Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Foundation.

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