Jamaica backs ocean-based climate action

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness is urging all stakeholders to unite in accelerating the progress on ocean-based climate action.

The prime minister is part of the High-Level Panel for Sustainable Ocean Economy in New York at the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

In a statement yesterday in the margins of the UNGA, Prime Minister Holness stated that Jamaica fully supports the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment Report, which creates a measurable goal to use the ocean as a solution.

“The call to ocean-based climate action being made has the full support of Jamaica, as we believe it reflects the ambition required to face the urgency of today's climate risks. It is my hope that the reports before us will serve as a wake-up call globally.

“Though not the first report detailing climate risks, it is the first report which creates a measurable road map for using the ocean to provide solutions to the climate emergency we face. Jamaica will examine [it] thoroughly and use it to assist with our national development plan, we know other SIDS (small island developing states) will do so as well,” he said.

Holness pointed out, once again, that SIDS like Jamaica and other Caribbean countries disproportionately face the devastating risks of climate change.

He said the world should not forget that Caribbean countries such as Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Puerto Rico, and most recently The Bahamas have suffered the most extreme damage to their countries due to unprecedented storms.

The prime minister also highlighted the commitment that Jamaica has made to ocean-based solutions, through a number of initiatives. He outlined that these include an assessment of the health of approximately 7,000 hectares of existing mangroves and swamp forest, and the replanting of over 2,000 hectares, beginning in 2020.

He said, too, that Jamaica has declared approximately 15 per cent of its biomarine resource legally protected through 14 special fisheries conservation areas and two marine parks.

“By 2020 we will develop a method to support comprehensive and integrated management of all protected areas with an effort to determine the true economic value of marine and coastal ecosystems and to aid in decision-making,” he told the high-level panel.

Additionally, he noted the implementation of the ban on single-use plastics, which he said has already begun to change the composition of the waste stream, and reduce the non-biodegradable waste entering the marine environment.

The IPBES Global Assessment Report emphasised addressing climate change, biodiversity loss, and the importance of the ocean to human well-being with great urgency.

According to the high-level panel, this call to ocean-based climate action provides a pathway to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future that secures a healthy ocean and human well-being.

“We urge all actors to join and take action.”

In that regard, the panel has recognised the need for cohesive and accelerated ocean action, which will be emphasised in the following global events: The UN Climate Conference (the Blue COP25); UN Ocean Conference; UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15); and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

In supporting the achievement of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, the high-level panel is urging all actors to: Invest in nature-based climate solutions; harness ocean-based renewable energy; decarbonise ocean industries; secure sustainable food for the future; advance the deployment of carbon capture and storage; and expand ocean observation and research.

Meanwhile, the high-level panel recognised the specified needs and special circumstances of vulnerable, low-lying, densely populated coastal communities and cities, particularly in small island developing states and least developed countries.

The UN estimates that the world would need to increase its efforts between three and five-fold to contain climate change to the levels dictated by science – a 1.5░C rise at most – and avoid escalating climate damage already taking place around the world.

The Paris Agreement provides an open-door framework for countries to continuously scale up initiatives to combat climate change.

“Governments are here to show you are serious about enhancing nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement. Cities and businesses are here showing what leadership looks like, investing in a green future. Financial actors are here to scale up action and deploy resources in fundamentally new and meaningful ways. And coalitions are here with partnerships and initiatives to move us closer to a resilient, carbon-neutral world by 2050,” United Nations Secretary General Antˇnio Guterres stated yesterday.

He stressed that “the best science, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tells us that any temperature rise above 1.5 degrees will lead to major and irreversible damage to the ecosystems that support us. Science tells us that on our current path, we face at least 3 degrees Celsius of global heating by the end of the century”.

Guterres said the summit was therefore “not a climate talk summit. We have had enough talk”, adding, “this is not a climate negotiation summit. You don't negotiate with nature. This is a climate action summit. The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win”.


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