WE WELCOME the Government’s long-awaited decision to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. But it must be understood that the depositing of instruments of ratification at the United Nations Headquarters in New York last Monday is just the start of an ambitious programme of reform being undertaken by the Dr Keith Rowley administration.
It is no small undertaking to commit to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent across industry, power generation and the transport sector.
And to do so by 2030, in a situation where the world’s superpower, the United States, has been pulled out by Donald Trump. To effect our commitment, Government — and likely successive administrations — must embark on a comprehensive programme of implementation involving consultation with all stakeholders. An effective system of monitoring emissions is also a must.
In this regard, there must be greater transparency when it comes to the costs involved and what action is required by the State.
This is especially so since concessions will undoubtedly have to be made in the hydrocarbon sector which remains, for now, the primary economic earner for the country. Many will, no doubt, share the view that the country should have signed the agreement much faster than it did given our status as one of many Caribbean nations which have to face the brunt of the effects of climate change. However, we must laud the Government’s approach of not rushing and carefully deliberating.
At the same time, our ratification cannot be understood only in a national context. It is clear that Caricom lobbying has played a major role. Even when we have not been directly affected, we have often felt the human and economic impact of devastating storms that have decimated our Caribbean neighbours.
As a leader in Caricom, we bolster our ability to lobby on our neighbour’s behalf internationally by implementing the Paris Agreement. Therefore, the Ministry of Planning must continue its efforts to develop and enhance an implementation plan and reporting system.
The next stages should include rolling out the planned consultation and co-operation with the stakeholders.
As we seek to reduce hydrocarbon emissions, the Government must also support the Caricom Strategic Plan 2015 – 2019 initiative which aims to develop economic, social, environmental and technological resilience among the Caribbean Community. These processes must be set to a very specific timeline if we are to meet the stated 2030 goal. For the sake of current and future generations, we must.