The leaders of CARICOM put forth a list of requests to Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, who is the president-designate for the 28th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The event is set to take place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from November 30 to December 12, 2023.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, the chairman of the 15-member regional integration group, presented the list on behalf of CARICOM. Skerrit discussed the challenges faced by CARICOM on its 50th anniversary, especially with regard to climate change, which is currently the region’s biggest challenge.
“The Caribbean is one of the most vulnerable regions of the world; climate change, for us in the Caribbean, is an existential threat. We are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, suffering from the ravages of climate change that is not our making,” he said.
Skerrit believes that it is crucial for the world to lower emissions by 45% by 2030 and attain carbon neutrality by 2050, based on scientific evidence.
“The political leadership required, however, to deliver at the scale and speed necessary, is lagging. Despite the geopolitical challenges being experienced across the globe, we cannot let up on pursuing ambitious climate actions.”
He continued, “As the COP28 President-designate, we in the Caribbean will count on your leadership to ensure that COP28 is a COP of action. COP28 must deliver actions that are commensurate with ensuring that we keep 1.5 alive. Our lives and that of our children and their children depend on it.”
CARICOM countries are pushing for creating and funding a Loss and Damage Fund to assist countries vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. The financial support should be dispersed through grants, and CARICOM is optimistic that COP28 will produce a solid strategy to double adaptation funding.
The Caribbean is also looking to determine the host of the Santiago Network and establish a fair and inclusive Work Programme for Just Transition that encompasses both mitigation and adaptation for all small island developing states (SIDS).
“These outcomes are critical to [rebuilding] trust in the UNFCCC process. Developed countries must be accountable, keep their promises and deliver the climate finance required if trust is to be maintained.
“They must deliver on the US$100 billion per year by COP28 and must commit new and additional resources by 2025 as we articulate the New Collective Quantified Goal on climate finance,” Skerrit said.
In the meeting, he stressed the importance of taking immediate action to prevent a global catastrophe as time is running out. He also highlighted Dominica’s experience with such disasters, citing Hurricane Maria which caused damages equivalent to 226% of the island’s GDP.
This occurred just two years after tropical storm Erika, which had already wiped out 90% of the GDP.
“Other CARICOM countries have similar experiences. As bad as this is, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) makes it clear that without steep cuts aligned to a 1.5 pathway, the situation will worsen.”
“As a result, we have committed in my country to pursue climate resilience across all aspects of our society and economy to avoid such losses in the future and enable more rapid recovery”.
“We, like all our CARICOM counterparts, require profound development finance reforms, solutions to the debt crisis, and equitable access to climate finance to make resilience a reality truly,” Skerrit said.
According to the CARICOM chairman, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has stated that there is a 66% probability of temporarily exceeding the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit in the next five years. Additionally, the WMO predicts with 98% certainty that the next five years will be the hottest on record.
“We know that with every increment of warming, the frequency and intensity of climate-related disasters will increase…undermining our sustainable development aspirations,” Skerrit said, noting that it is with this urgency that Al Jaber will take up the mantle of the COP28 presidency.