Six Caribbean countries endorse Copenhagen Accord

Six Caribbean islands have now endorsed the controversial Copenhagen Accord, a key outcome of the 15th United Nations climate change conference held in Denmark last December, Jamaica’s Observer reports. .

They include Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Bahamas, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica.

The six islands join some 131 other countries of the world, including small-island developing states the likes of the Maldives in endorsing the accord, a non-legally binding agreement that critics say is woefully inadequate if the planet is to win the battle against global climate change.

Climate change threatens rising sea levels and the loss of coastal livelihoods; increase in sea levels and the loss of certain marine species; as well as an increase in extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts.

Meanwhile, the accord, among other things, makes allowances for an increase in global temperatures to two degrees Celsius, while providing for fast-track funding for developing countries to adapt to climate change. The agreement, which critics add did not go far enough to safeguard the world’s most vulnerable to climate change, also makes provisions for developed countries to provide US$30 billion for the period 2010 to 2012 for adaptation and mitigation efforts in the developing world. Beyond that, developed countries committed to mobilising jointly US$100 billion annually by 2020 to address the climate change needs of developing countries.

“This funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance,” the agreement noted.

Still, it is not without reservations that Caribbean countries have given their stamp of approval to the accord, which in the end was essentially decided on by a few countries, notably the US, Brazil, China, India, and South Africa.

“It is not that they (Caribbean countries) agree with the accord, but that there are things in the accord that the region can take advantage of,” said Ulric Trotz, science adviser to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. “Our official position really is, accept the accord in the sense that you write to the UNFCCC, but at the same time you should mention reservations.”

Caribbean countries have taken heed. Jamaica is just such an island, noting its reservations over the failure to realise a legally binding agreement with ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets from the developed world and a move toward limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“The ministry (of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade) wishes to convey the decision of the Government of Jamaica to associate itself with the… accord,” said the island’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its March 30 letter to the UNFCCC secretariat on the matter. “In doing so, the Government of Jamaica wishes to underscore that it considers the accord a political document with no legal status under international law, and that its provisions do not replace or pre-empt negotiations towards a legally binding, ambitious and comprehensive agreement under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and the Bali Roadmap.”

“In this regard, Jamaica reaffirms the UNFCCC as the primary inter-governmental process to address climate change and supports the two-track negotiating process within the framework of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Co-operative Action and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments by Annex 1 Parties (developed countries) under the Kyoto Protocol,” it added.

Trotz said, in the interim, that they were some hopeful signs coming out of the accord and noted that it was on these that the region would build going into the climate change negotiations set for Mexico in November.

“The accord speaks (for example) to considering limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius… That is a hopeful sign that they (developed countries) are willing to take that on,” he said.

Trotz added that other hopeful signs were their commitment to providing new and additional funding for adaptation and mitigation and their recognition of the place of forests in any strategy to tackle climate change.

Trotz’s sentiments have been echoed by Jeffrey Spooner, the Group of Latin America and Caribbean representative on the Adaptation Fund Board, and one of Jamaica ‘s climate negotiators.

“It is a way forward,” he said in a previous news report. “At least it has identified the importance of climate change and the importance of tackling it now. And to be honest, there is nothing to lose in associating ourselves.”

He added that the fight to secure a legally binding agreement is “not over”.

“There is a lot of work to be done still. But at least the accord has kind of set the stage. There are some countries who are totally opposed to the accord and as such it is going to be very difficult to negotiate anything to do with the accord,” Spooner said

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