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CARICOM reviews second draft agreement

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) delegates were locked in talks this evening at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) being held in Paris, to review the second draft agreement to reduce global warming.

It is expected that a final document will reflect a compromise with developed nations who are pressing for any further increase in greenhouse gas emissions to be capped at two degrees Celsius, while CARICOM and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are demanding 1.5 degrees.

This is one of several matters of contention for the region, whose leaders have reiterated that any figure above 1.5 will be detrimental to Caribbean economies.


Secretary General Irwin LaRocque

Secretary General Irwin LaRocque

“We have been negotiating really hard for 1.5. For us it’s not a matter of just a number, for us it’s a matter of survival.  We have just crossed the threshold of one percent for the first time and already we are seeing the impact in our member states. The kinds of what I would call oddball storms that we’re having, the most recent one in the Bahamas.  We saw some sea swells that are unusual, so we are in fact experiencing climate change.

“So we continue to push for 1.5, it is a red-line issue for us. We cannot leave here without some sort of recognition of 1.5 degrees Centigrade as a long-term goal,” CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said.

Another sticking point is the financing of the cost to developing countries of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and sharing the burden between the world’s richest economies and developing countries.

There has been a glimmer of hope, however, after a so-called High Ambition Coalition made up of the European Union (EU), the United States and 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries joined forces to press for a new ambitious agreement.

The EU has pledged US$519 million to support climate action until 2020. The coalition has also called for transparency in the final agreement to track nations’ progress on climate change pledges, but there has been no consensus on the region’s calls for a 1.5 degree cap.

However CARICOM appears to be receiving the backing of China this week in its calls for 1.5 degrees. According to CARICOM, the 15-member regional grouping has also secured support from Beijing on other areas including having an internationally legally binding agreement from COP21; inclusion of loss and damage as an integral part of the COP21 agreement; and special consideration given to SIDS including CARICOM countries.

More than 190 countries attending the conference are hopeful that a new accord will be adopted by Friday’s deadline, bringing an end to years of failed negotiations.

The new draft agreement, which is an updated version of the document presented last weekend, was submitted to the plenary of the Paris Committee at 3 p.m. local time, with COP21 President Laurent Fabius noting that while there has been some progress in the negotiations, there is still work to be done.

“On several topics we are almost at the end of our efforts thanks to the commitment of the parties,” Fabius said, noting there are still too many areas where consensus had not been reached.

Delegates attending COP21 hope that a final agreement can be reached when the conference concludes on Friday evening.

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