As global leaders meet for the 2015 Paris Climate Conference dubbed COP 21, Caribbean heads, including St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony is making strong representation for the region at the summit.
Addressing the opening on November 30, 2015, Dr. Anthony said that the world must spare no effort to put on a trajectory, for warming of no more than 1.5 degree Celsius by 2100.
“I add my voice to the pleas for more ambitious cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. I also strongly support the calls for five years review of mitigation pledges with a major political moment in 2018-19,” he said.
Dr. Anthony underscored that 2015 will almost certainly be the hottest year on record for the planet and all of the data suggests that the high temperature mark, set in 2014, would be eliminated this year.
Equally threatening, he said, is the revelation that the by the end of 2015, the temperature of the planet would have increased by 1 degree Celsius above preindustrial levels.
“In simple terms, we have already passed the halfway mark to the 1.5 degree Celsius limit that has been recognized by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change as a temperature threshold for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).”
According to the Saint Lucian leader, the emission reduction pledges that have been submitted so far, indicated that the planet will warm by 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.
He declared that, “this is unacceptable” and suggested that more ambitious goals be set, in order to achieve more tangible results for the betterment of humanity and by extension its survival.
But in order to keep the increase in global temperatures under 1.5 degrees Celsius by mid-century and avoid catastrophic environmental changes, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 5-10 percent each year.
During his speech, Dr. Anthony who is also the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Lead Head of Government on Climate Change and Sustainable Development, touched on loss and damage caused by climate change, especially as it relates to SIDS.
“The issue for loss and damage is a serious one for my country, other SIDS and many developing countries. “These countries are characterized by its unique circumstances and special vulnerabilities. The devastating effects of climate change on our countries are well known and documented,” he added.
While the issue is no longer debated at climate change negotiations, Dr. Anthony suggested that the Paris Climate Change Agreement, should specifically recognize “loss and damage”, as a critical issue for SIDS, which should be separate from adaptation objectives.
“We will not be satisfied unless the Paris Agreement can lay the framework for an international mechanism that will help us address this great problem,” he asserted.
Turning his attention to climate finance, the prime minister said it is a well-known fact that many countries in the Caribbean have highly indebted economies. However, he stated that much of this debt has been accumulated in the repair and recovery efforts that follow the frequent extreme weather events.
Dr. Anthony underscored that adapting to climate change is beyond the capacity of Caribbean economies.
“We need quick, efficient and direct access to climate finance to make our economies and societies more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” he remarked.
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony said COP21 will determine the future of the planet and presenters will either be acclaimed as a generation of leaders that heeded the pleas of people by adopting a strong comprehensive agreement to fight climate change or deride it or as the leaders who lack will, courage and conviction and condemn the planet and its inhabitants to a future of despair, destruction and death.
“We have been presented with two options and we need to choose. We either condemn our planet to further destruction or we fail it,” he stated.
In conclusion, Dr. Anthony said SIDS and other developing countries are not the cause of climate change, emphasizing that those who have a historical responsibility for the problem, have a moral responsibility to fix it.
“They must help us adapt to the unrelenting and inevitable consequences already unleashed by the greed and abuse of the resources of our plant.”