Caribbean Negotiators Determined to Succeed in Paris

by Desmond Brown

PARIS, France – They have come to Paris in “full force” with “a determination to succeed”. But whether that optimism will translate into an acceptable agreement for Caribbean leaders and negotiators remains to be seen.
The Secretary General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque told Caribbean News Service (CNS) on the side-lines of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21), the region wants to ensure that the Paris agreement has enshrined in it, a provision for review every five years: “There ought to be transparency in terms of the commitments that countries make to this and I would hope that the commitments that the developed countries have made to provide financing are commitments that they will honour and I dare add that such commitments to provide financing should not be tied up in all the bureaucratic manoeuvrings to access these financing.”
Ambassador LaRocque added that: “We also feel very strongly that the vulnerability that our countries exhibit should be a major criteria for accessing those resources and not per capita income. We already have seen signs that some donors, some developing partners, even when they’re providing climate financing, are selecting who they provide the assistance to, based on per capita income and that is not something that we would like to see at all. As a matter of fact we are dead against that. Climate change does not know per capita income. We are vulnerable and the assistance must be provided on the basis of our vulnerability.”
CARICOM is a 15-member political and economic union comprising small, developing, climate-vulnerable islands and low-lying nations. Climate change is an extremely important issue for the region and leaders have long held the position that the situation must be addressed as it has already begun to impact the region. The Secretary General of CARICOM added that Some of the very critical issues facing the region include the issue of global warming in particular and what should be an appropriate target for the Caribbean to try to achieve: “We are currently experiencing severe climatic events in our region so we know that climate change is upon us and we certainly cannot leave here without some indication or some setting of a goal of seeking to achieve 1.5 degrees (Celsius) for the continued survival of our region of Small Island Developing States. “There is also the issue that we are currently experiencing loss and damage from these weather events. So we would also like to see reflected in an agreement such as this the recognition of the principle of loss and damage which is to be addressed going forward. Adequate financing must be provided so that our countries could first and foremost adapt to also address the issue of loss and damage.”
The CARICOM Secretary General echoed the call of the region’s leaders that the special circumstances of Small Island Developing States must also be reflected within the context of an agreement coming out of Paris: “We are here in full force. As you would have seen earlier this week, a number of our Prime Ministers addressed the meetings. Two of our Prime Ministers have remained here and have engaged in some very meaningful bilaterals on behalf of the region. Our ministers have begun to come in and they will take over in the sense of the political negotiations into next week. I feel we’re very well represented. We have a cohesive and coherent position going forward and we are negotiating in all of the realms that exist.”
The CARICOM Secretary General is also “very hopeful”, noting that: “we cannot be engaged in this without being hopeful”. He pointed out that there are a number of countries who share in various combinations some of the issues being put forward by the Caribbean: “Of course a negotiation is exactly that, a negotiation. And you have to seek to find compromise and we are seeing compromise across a number of countries. But I think we are here with the capacity to negotiate and a determination to succeed and I think that will see us through to next week. Let’s see what it brings next week Friday or Saturday when we rise from here.”