Ministers take charge of COP21 negotiations
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
by CNS via OCS Commission
Saint Lucia's Dr. James Fletcher says COP21 talks in Paris have moved from technical experts to negotiations amongst politicians, high level ambassadors and heads of delegations.

Caribbean negotiators have handed over the draft version of the expected global climate change agreement to the ministers who are expected to hammer out the final document by the end of this week at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21). It is up now to ministers to continue the technical discussions delegates had during the first segment of the talks but with a politically nuanced view as countries should agree to complex economic and development meeting points to address climate change.

Dr. James Fletcher, Minister for Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology of Saint Lucia, says it is now up to the ministers: “The ministers now have to take up that mantle, work with the negotiators because the discussions have now moved from a negotiating discussion among technical people to a negotiating discussion among politicians, among ministers and high level ambassadors and where there are heads of delegations. That’s where the game is now.”

If the accord comes through, the world should break apart from its fossil fuel dependence and quickly move towards a low-carbon economy with more resilient cities, communities and businesses. The Caribbean is intent on striking a deal to keep the global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees of pre-industrial levels.For this to happen though, parties must agree to heavy cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and financial support to comply with inversion in cleaner energy and adaptation to climate impacts.

Dr. Fletcher said there is still a significant amount of work to be done but the operation has now moved into a different mode: “The COP President has set up negotiating groups so there are co-chairs on particular subjects – ambition, differentiation, means of implementation and adaptation. I happen to be one of the co-chairs with the minister from Norway looking at ambition and our job now is to meet with the various groups, find out what their positions are, find out what are the negotiating positions, where are they willing to compromise because the intention is that we will have a draft text ready by Wednesday that will then be circulated. There will be further discussions and there will be, hopefully, a final text on Thursday that will be sent to the COP for its review with the intention of adopting a text on Friday evening.”

Minister Fletcher is very pleased that the region has done “a very good job” in preparing for the climate change talks. He pointed to several preparatory meetings and the circulation of position with the help of the CARICOM Secretariat and the assistance of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) adding that: “Everybody should know very clearly now where our positions and where our redline lie.”

Minister Fletcher said the climate change message has also caught on in communities throughout the Caribbean: “There is a very clear appreciation of the issue of climate change within the Caribbean. I can see my own country, Saint Lucia, I’ve been quite surprised, very pleasantly surprised at how much people are talking about climate change. We’ve had our young people get involved – the Caribbean Youth Environment Network, not just in St. Lucia but right across the Caribbean;  our artists have gotten involved, you talk about artists from all persuasions right from the internationally famous artists like David Rudder down to locally famous artists.  I think this El Niño event, that has really strengthened the climate impacts and what has happened in Dominica and what has happened in The Bahamas has really driven home to people that climate change is real. We’re coming into this COP with a very strong appreciation from Caribbean people and a very strong call to action from them to their Governments to do something about climate change.”