The Paris Agreement at COP 21: CARICOM’s Official Statement

As I observed earlier in this blog, reactions to the conclusion of COP21 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, within and outside the Caribbean, have been decidedly mixed. Somewhat belatedly, I am sharing with you CARICOM Chairman Freundel Stuarts’s Statement, which seems to say all the right things. Will the Caribbean be able to make progress towards its specific goals and overcome its very real challenges, which Small Island Developing States are already encountering? That remains to be seen.

CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of Barbados Freundel Stewart.
CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of Barbados Freundel Stuart.


23 December 2015 — On behalf of the Governments and People of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and in my capacity as Chairman of CARICOM, I applaud the historic adoption of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change by 195 nations in the French capital on Saturday (12 December 2015), after several years of discussions and an intense negotiation period from 30 November to 12 December 2015.

The Community welcomes this globally binding commitment to combat Climate Change. We believe that the actions and investment approved in the Agreement will bring us closer to the goal of maintaining global average temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and along a clear trajectory downwards towards 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

That Agreement will also help to realise the goals of lower greenhouse gas emissions, greater resilience and sustainable development, especially among the Small Island and low-lying coastal Developing States (SIDS), with the most vulnerable populations, such as the countries of the Caribbean. We determinedly and successfully promoted recognition of the special circumstances and vulnerabilities of SIDS, which are among the lowest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, but are the most threatened by climate change.

Our Community is already experiencing the effects of climate change, particularly with the intensification of climatic events and unusual weather patterns, as demonstrated in recent catastrophic events in St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and The Bahamas.

CARICOM’s interests were strongly represented in a focused and coordinated manner by Heads of Government, Ministers, the CARICOM Secretary-General and his staff, and a team of experienced and skilled negotiators led by Dr. the Hon. James Fletcher. We are satisfied that our strong advocacy helped to ensure that the Agreement reflected the Region’s position on our major red line issues.

The Region’s successful campaign, built around the slogan “1.5 to Stay Alive”, received energetic support from several groups and organizations, including youths and cultural artistes, whose efforts must be applauded.

The Agreement reflects the Region’s position on financing support for the implementation activities in SIDS, including a baseline contribution of 100 Billion USD by 2020 and future additional provisions. This will significantly strengthen our capacity to attain the ambitious goals of Climate Change adaptation. We also applaud the proposed international cooperation on Climate-Change-friendly technologies and capacity building in developing countries as another adaptation measure.

The Region was also at the forefront of the successful campaign for inclusion of Loss and Damage as a distinct element in the Agreement, which goes beyond adaptation and addresses irreversible losses and permanent impact on CARICOM and other SIDS, resulting from human induced climate change. Our team also left the negotiations satisfied with the support received on REDD-Plus (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation).

We congratulate the Government of France for guiding an inclusive and transparent process in which small States, like those in CARICOM, had a respected voice alongside bigger, more powerful nations. We particularly recall the initiative of the French President Mr. François Hollande to convene a pre-COP21 meeting earlier this year with CARICOM Heads of Government in Martinique.

The task now is to ensure that the provisions of this legally-binding Agreement are implemented. The international community must now retain the energising and uplifting spirit of Paris in the process going forward. The world expects no less.

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