Thoughts on the IPCC 1.5 Report
A Unified Caribbean Led Climate Talks, Called for Accelerated Climate Action The Caribbean and the alliance of small island states took to the global stage in Poland, urged increased financing, more ambitious targets and stressed time is running out
Super-sized hurricanes, a shortage of drinking water, rising flood waters and disappearing beaches are present-day realities wiping away livelihoods in the Caribbean. The Caribbean and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have advocated limiting global temperature rise around the world for years, while at home contending with the existential risks of global warming in real time.
During the 2015 global climate negotiations in Paris, small island representatives demanded a temperature goal of well below 1.5°C, a clear pathway to achieve it and increased, scaled-up funding to address climate change.
Three years on, the new “1.5 Degree Report,” published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a direct result of the small island nations’ insistence in Paris, held a stark warning for nation states and global emitters that it was past time to follow the lead of the island nations.
Penned by over 100 contributing authors from 40 countries, and drawing upon over 6,000 scientific references, the UN warned governments around the world it has only 12 years to implement transformational action, at an unprecedented scale, to avert catastrophic climate disasters by keeping within the limit of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
“For us in the Caribbean and Dominica included, we have nowhere to run,”
Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said days after the report’s release at a climate conference in Toronto, Canada.
“For us, the time for talk has elapsed.”
“The IPCC report presented convincing and indisputable scientific evidence, with high confidence levels, on the impact of human induced activities that contribute to global warming,” Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell said in remarks at a Green Climate Fund event on climate change in St. George’s, Grenada.
“It also addressed the potential impact it will have on human survival, if we continue on the current trajectory. The important takeaway is that it cannot be business as usual.”
The landmark report, published one year after the devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria, underscored what the coalition of small Islands have been saying all along: 1.5 To Stay Alive.
The Caribbean has united
Due in large part to their collective activism, their message came into sharp focus at the global climate conference held in Poland this December. Bolstered by its findings, the release of the report changed the way the Caribbean engaged in talks.
“It shows us the sense of urgency that it is much greater now. It also shows us that the kind of financing that we are asking for, it has changed the landscape totally. What was being provided will not be enough for countries to reduce their emissions to greenhouse gases, much less to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change,” Carlos Fuller, International & Regional Liaison Officer, CCCCC, said in an interview with The Caribbean Climate Blog.
To kick off the conference, CARICOM released a clear, fine-tuned statement on the IPCC report, citing the “devastating impacts from hurricanes and tropical storms and other weather-related extreme events”, and pushed for a comprehensive response to the damage already wreaking havoc.
CARICOM called on the international community to address loss and damage from the dangerous impacts of climate change and enable SIDS to submit proposals specifically; to act with utmost urgency to rapidly shift financial flows to facilitate and effect pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 °C; to demonstrate progress towards the mobilization of USD 100 billion per annum by 2020; and to increase that climate finance goal through to 2025.
The world’s first climate-smart zone
Instilling a positive, unified spirit on the global stage in Poland, the Caribbean is undeterred, forming a Caribbean coalition to accelerate climate action projects with the help of private and public sectors.
“The region has rolled up its sleeves and has tackled the impending threat,” Assistant Secretary-General, Directorate of Human and Social Development within the CARICOM Secretariat, Dr. Douglas Slater said.
Twenty-seven nations and territories from around the Caribbean have united to implement the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator with the support of over 40 international private sector companies and in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, UNDP, Virgin Unite and others.
The Accelerator’s multi-sector approach brings a new DNA to the fight against climate change with an emphasis on speed and scale. As such, the Accelerator, a Caribbean-led initiative, has identified a number of key areas for action including coastal resilience measures, renewable energy and electric transportation supported by innovative financing mechanisms.
Already over $1 billion has been mobilized to implement action. But this represents only a fraction of the $8 billion or so needed by highly indebted and vulnerable nations, as specified by their nationally determined contributions (NDCs), a set of commitments formally registered with the United Nations Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“I call upon my fellow CARICOM Ministers with responsibility for climate change to reexamine your NDCs in order to determine where we can lead by example through collectively raising our levels of mitigation ambition and communicating such to the international community…” Barbados Minister of Environment and Natural Beautification, Trevor Prescod said.