Jagdeo: UN must be pressured to release climate funds
- CARICOM urged to hold one head
A mere four months before world leaders meet again in Cancun, Mexico, to attempt to hammer out an acceptable climate deal, regional environmental experts have been warned not to waste time.
This was the message from Guyana’s President, Bharrat Jagdeo, to the regional Ministers of Environment who gather at the International Conference Centre, Pattensen, yesterday, to decide on their strategy for that anticipated meeting.
Jagdeo was straight to the point – CARICOM member countries have to stop wasting its time and come up with ideas that will force the United Nations climate meeting to make committed funds available.
Yesterday, the President also felt that not many of the Caribbean nations are plan-ready for an estimated US$500M that is available for climate adaption and other critical projects.
Prime Minister Stephenson King of St. Lucia was among the other regional leaders at the
third joint meeting of the region’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) and the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) which is being co-chaired by Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada.
According to the President, the meeting should come out with concrete decisions. While last year’s climate change forum in Copenhagen was a major disappointment, with many of the regional countries still nursing their wounds, there is not enough room for self-pity and the CARICOM just cannot wait anymore on the international community.
He stressed that while the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the main negotiating arm of the UN, there are other possibilities out there that must be optimized and can be tapped into for resources that will help small countries.
While there has been some work on long term agreements and REDD+, Jagdeo was disappointed with the fact that not much is being done with the Fast Track Financing.
According to the President, the negotiations have to be taken in the context that they are being conducted in the political arena, and not as mere issues.
He noted that developed countries like the US, China and India will look out for what is good for them.
“We have to be careful not to be sucked into the technical process and not lose sight of the political and economic aspect by focusing on a perfect agreement.”
Last year, the UN committed US$30 over a three-year period for climate adaption projects.
The President, while expressing disappointment that some of the monies will be in form of loans, pointed out that still an estimated US$6.5B is available to be expended. It is against this background that CARICOM has to ensure the UN is pushed.
However, the region must show it is ready with projects to utilize the monies…that it is project-ready.
Offering a candid opinion, Jagdeo was convinced that many of the countries in the region are not ready.
“Where do the countries put the money? Do they know how to spend it? These are some of the critical questions that will need answers,” he said. Jagdeo noted that with the US not signaling a clear decision on measures to cut emissions, the Mexico meeting in December may not see any significant outcomes.
But all is not lost for the region, he assured. There is still time for solidarity and CARICOM will need to urgently define what is needed for the forum to be successful, even to the point of being selfish.
Already Guyana has shown a number of projects to use the Norway US$30M promised for this year. These include adaption projects, buying equity in the Amaila Falls Hydro Project and a number of Amerindian programmes.
He noted that one of the key areas that will have to be tackled will be renewable energy. With Guyana spending 30% of its GDP on fuel imports, there is an urgent need for an alternative, he said. The Guyana situation is stark compared to the US where only 5% of that GDP goes to fuel imports.
The Head of State also called for the technical and political officials at the negotiating tables to hold one head since there seems to be a divide.
Meanwhile, in short remarks at the opening, Prime Minister King stressed that the meeting was timely and while there was a feeling that member countries had relaxed since last year’s Copenhagen meeting, there is definitely a need to find common ground.
Also addressing the opening yesterday was Guyana’s Minister of Housing, Irfaan Ali, who drew the connection of climate change and the disastrous effects on countries like Guyana, which recently suffered a drought followed by heavy rains. The two-day meeting at Pattensen is expected to address issues related to water management, climate change and renewable energy, sustainable land management and sustainable consumption and production in the region.
On Wednesday, CARICOM in a statement said that while last year’s conference in Copenhagen fell below the Caribbean’s expectations in relation to the actions needed to tackle global warming, some gains have been made in the body’s advocacy to secure a target in greenhouse gas emissions that will limit global warming by 1.50c.
“The issue of water security will also generate much debate in light of the drought challenges faced by many of its member states, CARICOM disclosed.”