2°C target not enough to protect island states, Caribbean countries make a plea for Paris

(Image: CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister of The Bahamas Rt. Hon. Perry Christie addresses Caribbean-France Climate Change Summit, May 9, 2015. Photo credit: Caricom Today)

Caribbean leaders met on Saturday (May 9) at the Caribbean-France Climate Change Summit in Fort-de-France, Martinique to advance their policy position on climate change in the lead up to COP21. The one-day summit was chaired by French President François Hollande, who will also chair the UNFCCC meeting in Paris. The president of the Regional Council of Martinique, Serge Letchimy, said that the goal of Saturday’s meeting was to give Caribbean nations an opportunity to express their views on climate change through a joint statement to be called “The Martinique Appeal.”

Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie presented the group’s position on climate change. Christie said, “Any Paris outcome must include: clarity on ambitious targets for developed countries, clarity on the adaptation measures and resources required to facilitate and enhance the sustainable development plans and programs in SIDS, and clarity on measures and mechanisms to address the development challenges associated with climate change, sea level rise and loss and damage for small islands and low-lying coastal developing states.” Christie added that a Paris deal must also clarify how the financial and technological support both for mitigation and adaptation will be generated and disbursed to small developing countries.

CARICOM countries include Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit noted that although the Caribbean Summit gave CARICOM countries an opportunity to ensure that their concerns will receive the appropriate attention in the Paris talks, the goal of COP 21, to limit global temperature rise to 2°C, is not good enough. “We remain convinced that the global goal of limiting average temperature increase to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels is inadequate for protecting fragile ecosystems in SIDS from the adverse impacts of climate change, and that a target rate lower than 1.5°C would be more appropriate. We are painfully aware that in the Caribbean, some ecosystems are already approaching the limits of their adaptive capacities, presenting major challenges for the livelihoods of the people. We therefore reiterate the call for urgent and ambitious action by developed country parties in particular, geared toward achieving this target”, Skerrit stated.

Skerrit’s fear that the 2°C target is not stringent enough to avoid serious climate impacts confronts the problem that warming is on track to exceed this limit with current mitigation commitments.

Researchers from the London School of Economics found that the commitments (intended nationally determined contributions or INDCs) some countries have made to reduce emissions are not extensive enough to limit global warming to 2°C. A May 2015 policy paper by Rodney Boyd, Nicholas Stern, and Bob Ward confirms that “there is a gap between the emissions pathway that would result from current ambitions and plans, and a pathway that is consistent with the global warming limit of 2°C,” and recommends that “countries should be considering opportunities to narrow the gap before and after the Paris summit.”

Similarly, a recent IEA’s report, Energy Technology Perspectives, finds that “clean-energy progress is falling well short of the levels needed to limit the global increase in temperatures to no more than 2 degrees C.” The IEA tracks recent progress in 19 key technologies and sectors to see how they are measuring up against 2°C milestones; 5 are off track, and the other 14 need to progress faster. The report claims that it will be very difficult for the world to achieve climate goals solely through the UNFCCC process and that new energy technologies are key to mobilizing climate action.

The debates surrounding whether the 2°C target is safe enough and if it is achievable are ongoing.



(Image: CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister of The Bahamas Rt. Hon. Perry Christie addresses Caribbean-France Climate Change Summit, May 9, 2015. Photo credit: Caricom Today)