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Dec 10, 2018

The Caribbean Must be Counted at COP24

Every year, the world comes together to attend the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is the largest gathering of international climate change policymakers who have committed to make changes to reduce the risks associated with a warming earth. This year’s COP24 is a technical summit as it aims to establish rules of how the Paris Agreement will cut global emissions, tackle climate change and provide finance for climate actions. The COP 24 started last week in Poland and this week, reporter Andrea Polanco is there as a part of the Climate Change Media Partnership, which took twenty other journalists from developing countries to follow and report on the summit. Here’s her first report.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The second week of the twenty-fourth Session of the Conference of the Parties kicked off today. COP 24 is considered the most important since the historic signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015. It has brought together over twenty-thousand people to Katowice, Poland to lay out the plans of how that agreement will be implemented. When the summit opened, President of COP24 pointed out that the success of that 2015 agreement is contingent on this year’s COP.


Michal Kurtyka

Michal Kurtyka, President, COP24

“Without success in Katowice, there is no success of Paris. Because simply put, the framework will there will be no success of Paris. Get this summit across the finish line and deliver a joyous message to the people of the world. We have brought the 2015 Agreement to life in Katowice.”


And so since last week, government leaders, policy makers, researchers, scientists, N.G.O.s, climate change activists and others have been meeting to decide how the Paris Agreement will be implemented to achieve what was set out. One hundred and ninety five countries made the 2015 landmark decision to reduce emissions and keep global warming well below two degrees:


[Paris Agreement Video: Highlights]


But that agreement is not legally binding and doesn’t have specific timelines for countries to meet their pledges. These Nationally Determine Contributions (NDCs) – are each country’s own targets to tackle climate change and reduce emissions. And so to make good on that 2015 promise, the world has come together  at COP24 to develop a rules of how countries will reduce global warming. Carlos Fuller who is from the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center and a SIDS negotiator at COP 24, explains.


Carlos Fuller

Carlos Fuller, Negotiator, SIDS

“Dealing with things like NDCs; common time frames whether it is every five years you do an NDC or if it is every ten years. Should it be done together instead of everyone doing it a different year. On the accounting procedures, how do you account for your NDCs? At present there are different NDCs. Some say, ‘I am going to reduce my greenhouse gases by X amount of tonnes. Some say I will be more energy efficient; others say I will reduce my trajectory of how I am developing. So, you have to develop a common metric to be able to measure one against the other.”


And, like for the rest of the world, this COP is significant for Belize. Belize is a member of the small island developing states. This is a block of fifty-seven countries from CARICOM, the Pacific and ten others member states. Belize and these countries share similar sustainable development challenges, have limited resources and are some of the most vulnerable to natural disasters. And that is why some countries, including the SIDs, had requested further investigation into the below two degrees goal of the Paris Agreement. And when the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the one point five degrees report back in October, it confirmed the difference between a one point five and two degrees temperature would be catastrophic on water supply, biodiversity, oceans, food production and – there will be even more extreme weather events – and some of the hardest hit will be SIDS.  But moving from below two to one point five means more aggressive commitments to transition economies to clean energy. But last week that report was blocked by a few big countries, including the U.S.A., Russia and Saudi Arabia.


Carlos Fuller

“Some countries are objecting to it because they do not believe enough science went into it; however, I do not believe that. Others recognise that they have to transform their entire energy strategy and those countries which depend on the exportation of oil and coal for their economies, they are the ones who are afraid of bringing out this report because then it affects their economies.”


And according to CARICOM representative Douglas Slater, this rejection of the IPCC’s one point five report makes things a bit more challenging for the already vulnerable SIDS.


Douglas Slater

Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary General, CARICOM

“That is a challenge and I think it will be important for us, CARICOM countries, to use whatever opportunities we may have; at COP; out of COP; international fora; at discussions with our development partners and any level to present the findings of this report, to present our case.”


The SIDS Negotiators believe this rejection of the one point five report may hold some implications for them. But CARICOM refuses to give in:


Carlos Fuller

“How it would affect us is how an organisation would be able to use that report. So, for example, the financial mechanism of the Convention cannot use that to develop its work program; to provide financing you would need. Or other international organisations, whether it is the World Bank, the JEF, or whoever to be able to use that report to affect it.”


Douglas Slater

“We are small abut we can talk. We intend to use our voices to carry some powerful messages. We depend especially on our Ministers who are here to send a very strong message to the world that the Caribbean, CARICOM must be counted.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


Belize does not have any ministerial representative at COP24. But other representatives include Ambassadors Janine Felson and Lois Young, Carlos Fuller of the C.C.C.C.C., C.E.O. Percival Cho of the Ministry of Environment, National Climate Change Office and PACT. Negotiations continue all of this week. This story was supported by the 2018 Climate Change Media Partnership, a collaboration between Internews’  Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Foundation.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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