Government considering merging Met Service, Climate Change Division

Government considering merging Met Service, Climate Change Division

BY JEDIAEL CARTER Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

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THE Government is considering the possibility of combining the Climate Change Division and the Meteorological Service to increase the capacity and efficiency of the relatively new organisation.

"The vision was really for a Climate Change Department because we know the task is really great," Colonel Oral Khan, chief technical director at the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation disclosed at this week’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.

Housed at the ministry, the division now employs five people. But Khan and Clifford Mahlung, project administrator and senior climate change negotiator in the ministry, highlighted that there is need for an increase in the complement at the division.

Mahlung indicated that when started in 2013, consultants from the United Nations Development Programme, who aided in the set-up of the department, suggested a full complement of seven employees for the unit to function effectively.

"So you would have an adaptation expert, you would have a mitigation expert — who is really an energy expert; you would have a director, you would have someone who looks at finance. Because with finance there are many sources of financing out there, but if you don’t know how to tap into them and how to utilise them, how to develop the projects [so] they are responsive to the needs of the countries and the persons in the communities, you need to have that type of person there. That person is not there yet [at the ministry]. You need to look at the negotiating process itself, how much we can increase that process," Mahlung stated.

Khan, meanwhile, disclosed that the division, in tandem with the Commonwealth Secretariat, is seeking to address the vacancy in the financing.

"As I speak I know we are also, with the assistance of the Commonwealth Secretariat, looking at bringing on a climate finance expert who will help us in that department because a lot of work needs to be done there. A lot of financial resources are available, but to access those resources requires a lot of technical work, so we are getting some support from the Commonwealth Secretariat to bring on a climate finance expert," Khan stated.

He pointed out that though small, the division has been working with other Government stakeholders to address climate change-related issues.

"In addition to the work that is done by the very small team in the Climate Change Division, we do work closely with the met service, and before we had the Climate Change Division it was really the met service alone that had to carry all the responsibility of participating in negotiations and so on," said Khan.

The technocrat added: "There are colleagues in the Ministry of Energy, for example, who work with us closely for some of the initiatives. So we are looking at looking more broadly across Government, looking at how we can multiply the force to bring others into the process."

According to Khan, there is also a move to include people in local government.

"So we have those major contacts in all the ministries and major departments. And we are moving to take that network, not just at the central government level, but down to the local level. So we are building another level of the network where we can reach into the local authorities one level down, and therefore into communities," he explained.

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