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Climate change summit in Glasgow – COP26

COP 26 is the 2021 United Nations climate change conference which is happening in Glasgow in the UK in November.  COP stands for Conference of the Parties and in the 30 years they have been happening, climate change has gone from a peripheral issue to becoming a global priority.

In Grenada, climate change has its own Ministry, called the Ministry for Climate Resilience which has within its jurisdiction, Environment, Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Disaster Management along with Climate Resilience. It is presently headed up by Senator Simon Stiell which has as its Vision Statement: “To achieve a smart island state through sustained protection and management of our natural resources and environmental assets.”  Govt of Grenada portal.

Caribbean Civil Society organisations have been calling for urgent climate action at successive COPS. In 2018 they organised under the banner of “1.5 to stay alive” which is considered the most the global temperature can rise for the planet to stay feasible for humans to survive.  In 2021 Caribbean Youth voices are organising under the banner of ‘Stay alive and thrive’.

The Western media are proclaiming that 2021 is a historic year for global climate action as there is great concern that unless the targets set in 2015 in Paris are implemented, they will be lost: one of the targets being to limit the global temperature rise to well below “2 degrees C”, preferably 1.5 degrees C.

This target was fought for by less affluent Nations, which are already suffering with unlivable heatwaves, floods and drought. The difference between 1.5C and 2C may not sound like much, half a degree Centigrade but as the President of the Maldives, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, told world leaders at the United Nations in September, “the difference between 1.5C and 2C is a death sentence for the Maldives”.

The Regional Climate Week 2021, the Caribbean and Latin America week was held in May, other regions were later, were seen as the possibility to build  momentum towards success at COP26, a platform for regional stakeholders to  create a set of points in order to plead their cause at the Conference.

However, due to the failure of any progress on tackling the climate crisis in June’s G7 meeting in UK and the recent G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting, a new position paper has been drawn up which lays out a five point plan, highlighting key deliverables for developing Nations to be able to tackle the climate crisis.

The five points laid out in the paper are:

Cutting emissions: Despite welcoming recent progress, the sum total of climate policies in place across the world will not keep global warming within the limits that Governments agreed in Paris.  An acceleration of net-zero targets is urgently needed led by those with the biggest responsibility and capacity.

Finance:  The promises made by developed countries in Copenhagen in 2009 and again in the Paris Agreement are unequivocal and must be delivered.  At least $100bn per year was promised by 2020 with increased annual sums from 2025, this target has been missed and has to be addressed urgently, however, (in the aftermath of Covid, this may prove to be difficult).

Related:  Climate finance

Adaptation:  With climate impacts increasing, a specific goal of at least 50 percent of climate finance needs to be committed to helping the most vulnerable adapt, with regular reviews.

Loss and Damage:  The consequences of the developed world’s historical failure to cut their emissions adequately are already resulting in permanent losses and damage for the most vulnerable. Responsibilities have to be acknowledged and promised measures delivered.

Implementation:  After several summits of stalling, governments must by COP26 finalise measures on transparency carbon trading and set a 5 year common timeframe for delivering new national plans (NDC’s).

Without this 5 point plan, leaders of developing countries warn that the outcome of the Glasgow summit will end in failure. The plan has been developed and endorsed by Government leaders representing countries and UN negotiating blocs which make up more than half the nations of the world.

Jamaica, whose contribution to climate change is ridiculously insignificant already submitted a very ambitious NDC, which almost doubles its clean and renewable energy target. We should not expect less effort from major emitters.

“This is the time for action, keeping 1.5degrees alive and within reach is at stake. The survival of millions of people from the most vulnerable communities is in our hands. With political will, we can get both the ambition and solidarity we need.  Time is ticking, let’s act,” noted Parnell Charles Jr, Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, Jamaica.

It would have been interesting and informative for the readers to know where Grenada positions itself, however despite requests for this to be shared, nothing has been forthcoming from the Ministry; Senator Stiell, however, had time to grant Sky TV an interview, which was broadcast on their Daily Climate Show but not publicly in Grenada.

In the interview, Sen. Stiell made an impassioned plea for money to help “his people” to do more than survive, however, no mention was made of what Grenada might do to help itself.

No mention of an upgrade of our NDC, no mention of the responsibility we have to our own people such as ensuring that sand mining no longer happens – this is partly responsible for the destruction in Telescope, Mt Rodney and many other beaches.

No mention of protection of mangroves which in turn protect our coastal areas but which are under constant threat from developers and people looking to make quick money by making coals from the mangrove trees.

There is a great deal Grenada can do to help itself but foreign money seems to be far more important.

FOE – Grenada