St. Vincent and the Grenadines is expecting a strong, legally-binding global climate accord when negotiations are held in Paris this year, but nation’s prime minister, Ralph Gonsalves, says the actions of major emitters suggest that the talks will be “another empty diplomatic dance”.
The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21 or CMP11) will be held in a Paris from Nov.30 to Dec. 11.
It will be the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
“Let us be clear: St. Vincent and the Grenadines, island and coastal states will not settle for a climate change agreement that does not “comprehensively and unambiguously bind major emitters to deep and ambitious emissions cuts, and meaningful financing commitments to fund adaptation and mitigation efforts in the most vulnerable countries,” Gonsalves told the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.
At the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will be pushing for a strong, legally-binding climate accord that will keep global temperature rise to between 1.5 and 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrialisation levels.
They say such an agreement is needed to curb the catastrophic impacts of climate change that many SIDS are already experiencing.
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“Our existential struggles in the face of climate change inform our posture in the frustratingly meandering negotiations to arrive at a legally-binding agreement within the parameters of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” Gonsalves told world leaders.
He said that the Paris talks are two months away “but the precariousness of our global plight is not matched by the ambition of our partners.
“Indeed the posturing and recalcitrance of some major emitters suggest that COP 21 may be yet another empty diplomatic dance that prioritises process over progress,” he said.
Gonsalves said that SVG is embracing a green future.
“We are actively engaged in transitioning from fossil fuels to a renewable mix of solar, hydro, and geothermal energy. Within the next three years, 80 per cent of our electricity needs will be provided by renewable energy. If we could control our own climate destiny, and insulate ourselves from the recklessness of other emitters, we would approach the future with greater confidence.
“But we know that our own mitigation efforts are inadequate in the face of a global threat,” he, however said.
“We know that the politics of delay and denial threaten our very existence. The world has run out of time and excuses. The future cannot be saved by the timid or entrusted to companies whose seductive words of corporate responsibility mask deceptive practices that place profit over planetary survival.”
Gonsalves said that his nation’s beauty “is now belied by the grave and gathering threat of climate change.
“Rising and raging seas attack our coastline and infrastructure from beyond our shores, while rains and climate volatility make landslides and deadly flooding a real and increasingly-frequent internal threat to lives and livelihoods.
“The intensifying vulnerability of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and its neighbouring islands to climate change is clear in the alternating bouts of drought and flooding that have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in loss and damage in my country in successive years.”
He noted that less than two years ago, devastating flooding washed away 17 per cent of the nation’s fragile gross domestic product and claimed 12 lives.
“Our quest to recover, and to make our people whole again, is a continuing struggle, and one that takes place against a backdrop of hope that we are not soon beset by a similar tragedy.”
Gonsalves also noted that Tropical Storm Erika struck Dominica one month ago.
“The death and destruction wrought by the storm is heart-rending, and serves as yet another unwanted reminder of the ominous threat of global warming and the precarious nature of our developmental aspirations in the face of an increasingly inhospitable climate,” he said.
He noted that SVG and other Caribbean countries have joined friendly states in assisting Dominica, and beseeched other countries that “have not yet supported this noble effort of relief, recovery and reconstruction to do so with the utmost urgency and generosity”.