After two weeks of negotiations, 196 countries have adopted what has been dubbed the “Historic Paris Agreement”- a product of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference on of Parties (COP 21). Negotiators have done their work and now it’s time for all countries to play their part in bringing the pact to fruition. Among the issues that countries have been tasked to maintain is the increase in the average global temperatures to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and implementing mechanisms to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. This aligns to the climate justice campaign slogan “1.5 to stay alive”; the slogan launch in 2009 and popularized during 2015 among Caribbean countries prior to COP21. “1.5 to stay alive” campaign received support from the creative arts and culture sector which has since composed songs, written poetic pieces, and even created animations to engage and inform Caribbean demographic.
Among other negotiation points that have been included in this milestone agreement is the setting of a minimum of US$100 billion per year starting from 2020, with priority given to developing countries for implementation of adaptation and mitigation projects. A review of this clause has been slated for 2025. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) were also seeking agreement on recognition of the special circumstances of SIDS, like Saint Lucia, and the issue of loss and damage has been separated from adaptation. These too have been included in the agreement.
Though many celebrate the outcome of countless hours of deliberation based on years of research, countries which are heavily dependent on fossil fuels for economic development and sustenance, and poverty reduction now need to make stringent sacrifices in order to comply with the Paris Agreement. Some researchers note that the opportunity cost of attaining the near zero carbon emissions required from the agreement may be to sacrifice development. It can, however, be noted that there is significant potential and entrepreneurial opportunities in adaptation and mitigation implementation. CYEN-Saint Lucia believes that this could be a platform for employment for youth, given Saint Lucia’s youthful demography. The contribution of youth in shaping all nations futures, in-turn their future, even in policy development was highlighted in Dr. James Fletcher, CARICOM Chief Negotiator, closing remarks at the conference; “our young people…who joined this truly remarkable effort to convince the world about our common vulnerabilities.”
CYEN is truly proud and appreciative of the work of our CARICOM negotiators for standing up for the future of the Caribbean and SIDS, for our future. Kudos.