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Ambassador Rodney Charles. (IWN photo)
Ambassador Rodney Charles. (IWN photo)

WARSAW, Poland — Small island developing states (SIDs) are the “the conscience of the planet,” at the on-going global climate talks here, says Rodney Charles, Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador to the United Nations, and his country’s lead negotiators at the talks.

“We are seen here as the conscience of the planet and our job is to constantly remind them of the consequences of inaction and their two roles in that regard: one is taking the necessary action to moving toward a low carbon economy and secondly, to do what is necessary to help countries to adapt to the consequences of higher temperatures,” he said on Monday as the talks moved into a second and final week.

He said that negotiators from the Caribbean are having “significant discussions” regarding the status of the negotiations as they relate to mitigation and adaptation goals.

“Right now, we are forcefully presenting the case that unless we take urgent action, that we are actually facing the possibility that the planet may be irreversible condemned to higher temperatures and all the consequences that flow from that,” Charles said.

“We are getting a significant amount of pushback from developed countries who are not prepared to come up with the funding necessary to assist countries who are the victims of the consequences of higher temperatures as a consequence of global emission,” he further stated.

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At the talks, which bring together 190 countries, the Caribbean Community operates under the SIDs and Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) umbrellas.

Charles noted the impact of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines earlier this month, which has claimed 3,000 lives, and tornadoes in the United States earlier this week.

“We are not saying that these things are necessarily directly connected to climate change, but what we are told by the science, we can expect increasing frequency of high-impact climatic phenomena and, … our challenge is to keep the world always mindful of the challenges of climate change.”

Developing nations at the talks were surprised by Japan’s announcement last week that it was decreasing its 2020 carbon emissions target.

OASIS issued a “strong statement” saying they are taken aback by that action, Charles said.

“I gather from the body language of the Japanese ambassador that they were not expecting the kind of reaction from the global community.

“So, what we are seeing now is a moving together of forces that suggests that climate change and inaction on climate change and revising ambition will not be looked at without a reaction,” he said.

Asked if he thinks that the talks will end with the Caribbean in a favourable position, Charles said, “It remains to be seen.

“This is my first climate change conference and I am told that in the last two days, one sees a rising of action in order to come to a conclusion. I am hoping that.”

The 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 9th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol are being held here from November 11 to 22.

“But the purpose of this meeting is not to agree on climate change goals,” Charles, however, said.

“The purpose of this meeting is to set in train and lay the groundwork for the Secretary-General meeting that will take place next year with political leader and the meeting next year in Peru, and, finally, COP21 in France,” he further said.

“I think that given what we are facing and the fact that the earth cannot entirely and totally and forever absorb the consequences of our inaction, that something will happen,” he further told CMC.

Meanwhile, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, told reporters on Monday that “”at minimum”, developing countries need to feel confident that the commitment to the agreed upon US$100 billion for climate finance by 2020 “is still on the table despite growing financial circumstances”.

She further said that developing nations say there needs to be more clarify on how that funding is going to be mobilised, and that there need to be a reiterated and strengthened commitment to the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund.