Small Islands want Firm Decisions on Kyoto Protocol at Durban Talks

Clifford Mahlung, Jamaica's chief negotiator and a representative of the Alliance of Small Island States, (AOSIS) at a community meeting in Cascade Portland, Jamaica, during a Voices for Climate Change Community tour and dialogue in 2009 by Panos Caribbean

By Indi Mclymont-Lafayette, Journalist

DURBAN, South Africa — The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), including Caribbean islands such as Jamaica, are calling for firm decisions on the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol at the 17th UN meeting on climate change being held here.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol is a UN treaty which sets targets for greenhouse gas emissions cuts from First World country parties.

“AOSIS is insisting that delaying decisions re the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol or waiting until 2020 to decide on a new instrument under the United Nations Framework Convention will be detrimental to many small islands,” said Clifford Mahlung, Jamaica’s chief negotiator and a representative of the AOSIS.

“We want a second commitment period decision now (at this meeting). We want to see the major elements of a new agreement announced, including the legal format, while we are still here in Durban,” he added.

Clifford Mahlung, Clifford Mahlung, Jamaica's chief negotiator and a representative of the Alliance of Small Island States, (AOSIS) speaking to residents of rural Jamaican Community - during a Voices for Climate Change Community tour and dialogue in 2009 by Panos Caribbean in Cascade, Portland - Jamaica. The community is plagued by frequent landslides which affects agriculture and safety and sometimes makes the community inaccessible by vehicular traffic. -- The tour was part of Panos Caribbean's "VOICES FOR CLIMATE CHANGE" project: a regional initiative aimed at utilizing the influence and talents of performing artistes in the Caribbean to raise awareness about Climate Change and increase knowledge about its effects on Small Island Developing States and what every one can do to lessen the impact.

Mahlung was speaking on the third day of negotiations at the UN climate change meeting which will run from November 28 until December 9.

One of the issues being debated at the meeting is whether a second commitment period will be agreed upon for the Kyoto Protocol — the first commitment period for which ends in 2012 — or whether a new agreement will be formulated to replace the existing one.

According to Mahlung, the longer it takes to make the decisions is the more dire it will be for small islands who are experiencing severe climatic impacts, such as sea-level rise, more intense hurricanes and prolonged droughts.

As such, AOSIS is calling for strong targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If these targets are met, it is expected that the climate impacts for small islands may be lessened in the long run.

Mahlung is a part of a eight-member Jamaican team attending the UN meeting. The other Jamaican delegates include the new head of Jamaica’s Meteorological Office, Jeffrey Spooner; Leonie Barnaby from Office of the Prime Minister; Keith Porter from the Forestry Division; Hopeton Peterson from the Planning Institute of Jamaica; Nicolette Williams from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and journalists Indi Mclymont-Lafayette from Panos Caribbean and Carol Francis from the Radio Jamaica Group of Companies.

Other Caribbean delegates include representatives from the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre in Belize Carlos Fuller and Kenrick Leslie; negotiators Crispin d’Auvergne and Alma Jean from St Lucia; negotiator Leon Charles from Grenada; Tesha Burke from the Caribbean Youth Environment Network; negotiator Kishan Kumarsingh; and journalist Linda Hutchinson from Trinidad and Tobago.

The Caribbean countries are an active bloc of the 43-member AOSIS group.

This music video is one of the productions of the VOICES for Climate Change Education Project by Panos Caribbean and various partners.

VOICES for Climate Change is a joint project of the The National Environmental Education Committee (NEEC) and Panos Caribbean: The project is a national climate change communication strategy which utlises the expertise, talent, influence and VOICES of established performing artiste as well as new, upcoming talent in the industry to educate and spread awareness on climate change issues and promote environmentally friendly behaviour.

Performing artistes from Jamaica and the Caribbean involved in the project includes, Tony Rebel, Queen Ifrica, One Third, and other Digicel Rising Stars winners and outstanding contestants, Lloyd Lovindeer, Omari, Amique and other performing artistes!

The Voices for Climate Change Education Project is part of Panos Caribbean’s Environment programme activities.

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