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Small States Make Progress on Climate Change Talks

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Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill has informed that recent negotiations on climate change have resulted in a number of significant achievements, which will benefit Jamaica and other small island developing states.

He said that coming out of the recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), progress was made towards the establishment of a mechanism that will address issues relating to loss and damage in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. This, he said, will improve the capacity of these countries to adapt to climate change.

“This is of utmost importance to Jamaica, as ocean acidification caused by the higher than normal atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, profoundly impacts marine life,” he stated.

The Minister was addressing the eighth Climate Change Roundtable series held on December 18 at the Knutsford Court hotel in New Kingston.

The progress towards the setting up of the loss and damage mechanism came out of the efforts of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention. The group successfully completed its work, creating several new institutions that will enhance the future implementation of the Convention in the areas of mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer, capacity building and short term finance.

The Minister also reported that decisions were made that have reaffirmed the commitment of all parties to work towards a new instrument with legal “teeth” that will substantially address many of the issues of climate change, including significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement will be adopted in 2015 for entry into force in 2020.

The Minister led a delegation of six to the conference, which was held in Doha, Qatar from November 26 to December 8.

He informed that of the 41 decisions made at the conference, 27 of which were under the convention, 13 under the Kyoto Protocol and one was a joint resolution congratulating the hosts – the Government of Qatar – for their excellent organisation and support.

He said that coming out of the negotiations, the Kyoto Protocol will have a smooth transition into a second commitment period that will begin on January 1, 2013 until the end of 2020.

He however pointed out that the full operation of the Green Climate Fund has been delayed for another year. “This was not totally unexpected given the uncertainties that still exist with the global economy,” he stated. The Fund is expected to contribute to the ultimate goals of the UNFCCC.

A number of developed country parties have pledged some US$6 million in short-term financing up to 2015, namely Germany, United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Sweden and the EU Commission.

Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Dr. Arun Kashyap, also informed that the Convention was significant for many small island developing states.

He said the advancement towards establishing a new mechanism to address loss and damage is a “significant achievement” given that this process has been long resisted by developed countries fearing it could expose them to unlimited compensation claims.

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