Caribbean Leaders and other delegates who attended the Second Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change in Grenada. Source: CARICOM. - Photo: 2023

Caribbean SIDS Set Key Priorities for UN Climate Conference

By Linda Hutchinson-Jafar

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad | 20 October 2023 (IDN) — In the lead-up to the 28th UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, Caribbean leaders representing Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have revealed their critical priorities, which emphasized the immediate necessity for climate action and the crucial support from developed nations.

These priorities were established during the 2nd Caribbean SIDS High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change convened in Grenada on 28-29 September, shaping the path and strategies that will steer the Caribbean’s involvement in COP 28 from 30 November-12 December 2023 in the most populous city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Key among the priorities is the urgent call for the capitalization of the Loss and Damage Fund which involves securing new and additional grant-based financing of a minimum of US$100 billion annually, aimed at swiftly facilitating reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in the aftermath of climate-related events. The fund’s accessibility is advocated for all developing nations that have borne significant loss and damage due to the impacts of climate change, with possible measurements relative to GDP percentages.

Additionally, the Caribbean region emphasized the crucial delivery of the US$100 billion by developed country Parties. According to the outcome document from the conference, this funding is viewed in the context of providing sufficient, predictable, and grant-based financial support for ambitious climate adaptation and mitigation actions.

Another critical point of action pertains to the need for capacity building and the adoption of appropriate technology in various sectors to effectively address climate challenges.

Furthermore, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is committed to supporting the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) application to host the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage, highlighting the region’s dedication to addressing climate-related loss and damage issues.

To foster collaborative efforts and shared priorities between regions, coordination with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) for a high-level event at COP 28 is being considered.

Caribbean SIDS, among regions most susceptible to climate change impacts, faces a growing perilous predicament without timely and suitable intervention.

Their concerns encompass a broad range of threats, from global warming and rising sea levels to more frequent and intense tropical cyclones, storm surges, droughts, changing precipitation patterns, and coral bleaching. For example, out of the 29 Caribbean SIDS, a staggering 22 were affected by at least one Category 4 or 5 tropical cyclone in 2017, resulting in an estimated cost of US$93 billion according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Robust climate action

At the conference in scenic Grenada, Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Edward Davis issued a resounding call for robust climate action and financial accountability on the global stage.

Highlighting the staggering impact of human activity on the environment, he noted that over a trillion tons of carbon dioxide have been released into the Earth’s atmosphere since the onset of the Industrial Revolution.

Davis urged industrialized nations to honor their commitment made at COP 15 in Copenhagen, which sought to mobilize $100 billion per year by 2021—a commitment reaffirmed at COP 21 in Paris and extended to 2025. He expressed disappointment that this target has not been met and called for transparency in monitoring the financial pledges made.

He urged leaders in the Caribbean to speak with one voice at COP 28 and achieve concrete benefits in their efforts to combat climate change. “The time has come to double down on our efforts to tell these developed nations to write the cheque as they have kicked the can down the road for far too long,” Davis said.

Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell also issued a passionate call for urgent action to rectify inequalities and fight for climate justice on a global scale.

He pointed to the unsettling reality that a mere 20% of industrialized countries are responsible for the climate crisis while they control a staggering 85% of the world’s GDP.

Mitchell said while some industrialized nations are beginning to feel the effects of climate change such as droughts and wildfires, they possess the capacity to respond by relocating industries.

“We can’t. The sea level rises continue. There is no place to go in the Bahamas, there is no place to go, that’s the reality of what we’re dealing with, so we need to be unapologetic in our passion, in our drive, and in our commitment to doing this, “ he said.

Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Simon Stiell, observed that the Caribbean region played a pivotal role in the establishment of a global loss and damage fund at last year’s COP.

“We now have the challenge of turning that decision into operationalizing it … in terms of what it serves and directly benefits the most vulnerable,” said Stiell, a Former Minister for Climate Resilience and The Environment in Grenada.

Stiell emphasized the central role of finance which he termed “the elephant in the room” in the climate agenda.

“Finance is the one thing. If there was a single silver bullet in what needs to be done to avert this crisis, it is finance and it cuts across the negotiating process, every single negotiating track. If we talk about closing the gap, the implementation gap, if we talk about increasing ambition whether that’s in adaptation, in mitigation, loss and damage, it is finance,” said Stiell at the Caribbean meeting.

Critical gaps

A significant issue is the gap between the funds required for climate action and the funds currently available. The ambitious goal to reduce global emissions by 43 percent before 2030 necessitates approximately six trillion dollars, far exceeding the pledged one hundred billion dollars per year for developing countries. “That’s what as a global community we need to find and that is just to implement our nationally determined contributions,” Stiell added.

Emphasizing the significance of establishing the Caribbean’s COP 28 priorities and approach, he stressed the need for a non-transactional mindset and a more comprehensive, cooperative strategy to tackle climate issues.

During the high-level meeting, leaders and stakeholders engaged in discussions on six key thematic areas, crucial for tackling pressing challenges in the Caribbean SIDS with a shared goal of charting a comprehensive path towards a more sustainable and climate-resilient future for the Caribbean.

Leaders emphasized the urgent need to bolster resilience and achieve prosperity in the face of mounting climate change impacts, with a focus on enhancing adaptation efforts and addressing loss and damage.

Another pivotal topic was financing the transition to renewable energy in the Caribbean, exploring the vast potential offered by sources like wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectricity.

Discussion on transforming the international financial architecture was aimed at facilitating access to blue and green finance while promoting regional collaboration on carbon pricing mechanisms.

Delving into the impacts and opportunities within biological systems, the meeting examined the significance of preserving the Caribbean’s oceans, forests, and land.

Additionally, discussions revolved around accelerating e-mobility to reduce costs, and emissions, and establish a dependable electrified transportation system.

Lastly, the importance of building robust national systems for climate transparency was stressed, emphasizing the need for accessible data and information to track progress, enhance international accountability, and attract support. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: Caribbean Leaders and other delegates who attended the Second Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change in Grenada. Source: CARICOM.

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