Climate Experts: Global Stocktake can be gamechanger for the Caribbean

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

Trinidad and Tobago is warming 2.5 times faster than the global average, according to statistical data. With similar trends across the Caribbean, this is a growing crisis which poses a severe threat to sustainable development in our region.

Without urgent course-correction on climate change and adaptation to its effects, the Caribbean will face worsening loss and infrastructural and environmental degradation.

This was the stark message coming from the Climate Analytics Caribbean event, “Islands All In for GST 2023”, which commemorated Earth Day and raised awareness of the United Nations climate change process, the Global Stocktake. The event featured a special selection of Caribbean short films in partnership with the Green Screen Environmental Film Festival, the only sustainability-themed film festival in the Caribbean.

Presenters gave profound warnings on the losses the Caribbean will experience above a 1.5 ?C warming limit, noting that natural wonders and essential ecosystems we enjoy today such as coral reefs may soon be a thing of the past, with catastrophic consequences.

In Trinidad and Tobago, every single year since 1986 has been warmer than the 1961-1991 climatological average,” said Kalain Hosein, Multimedia Journalist. “Trinidad and Tobago has warmed at a rate of 0.24C per decade since 1946. The last two decades have been the hottest on record. The trend is clear. We are getting hotter, faster, with decreased rainfall, causing alarming knock-on effects to public health, agriculture, energy consumption and more. This is not good news for our country.”

Hosein was announced as an ambassador for the Islands All in for GST 2023 drive which will advance regional participation in the Global Stocktake. He is joined as an ambassador by fellow multimedia journalist and climate champion Seigonie Mohammed, who also delivered a profound address.

With the Caribbean on the frontlines of the climate crisis, the Global Stocktake (GST) presents a critical opportunity for countries to implement initiatives to reduce emissions, and for our region and other small island developing states to receive much-needed financial and technological support to adjust and adapt to climate impacts.

The GST is hailed as a pivotal moment for international transparency and accountability. This stocktaking process will inform countries’ enhanced climate commitments on issues related to mitigation, adaptation, and finance, as well as cross-cutting equity issues. It will assess how our world is working towards staying within a 1.5 ?C warming limit, which is at the core of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s landmark Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement compels every country to do their fair share to demonstrate their climate action ambition and contribute to the solution. Every country around the world must account for their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and whether they are achieving them. This will feed into the Global Stocktake.

Trinidad and Tobago’s NDCs address emissions in the Power Generation and Transportation sectors and is perhaps the most ambitious NDC in the region,” stated Kishan Kumarsingh, Head, Multilateral Environmental Agreements at the Ministry of Planning and Development, Trinidad and Tobago. “It also contains an unconditional commitment to reduce emissions in the public transportation sector. The approach is to develop the requisite policy, legislative, institutional and administrative enabling environment to facilitate ambitious climate action as a holistic approach.”

Kumarsingh noted that Trinidad and Tobago is “walking the talk”, with work such as:

Development of a utility-scale solar plant to generate approximately 112 MW of power, with ambition to increase capacity to 30% by 2030.
Procurement of 240 electric buses to further reduce emissions from the CNG initiative.
Development of a green hydrogen roadmap, with assessment on the feasibility of wind power both onshore and offshore to power the green hydrogen economy.
Development of a net zero plan consistent with the Paris Agreement to identify additional emissions reductions opportunities and actions to raise mitigation ambition.
Development of a carbon pricing and carbon trading policy.

We still have time to turn the ship around – the Global Stocktake can help get us there,” stated Rueanna Haynes, Director of Climate Analytics Caribbean. “Technological solutions and know-how already exist to put us on the pathway that will avoid the worst and most dangerous climate impacts.

This global moment is designed to help us understand in more precise terms the gaps that exist. Showcase the solutions that are already being deployed. Secure real political commitment for cooperation to go further, faster. All based on equity and the best available science.”

In order for the promise of this process to be made real, whole of society buy in will be required. As a people, as a region we have the opportunity to contribute. And in fact, have already done so with a submission into the global process that presents the outcome of regional discussions on a Caribbean approach to climate justice. We can continue to contribute through engagement with governments on the upcoming political phase of the process. But critically, we should be preparing to help to implement the outcome of the Stocktake in the context of greater climate action on the ground.”

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