Jamaica’s voice absent in high level Climate discussions now on in Durban, South Africa

Elections & Budget Restrictions Prevent Jamaican Government from Sending a high level Representative to Durban

VOICES for Climate Change performing artistes re-planting 400 mangrove plants in the Portland Cottage community in Clarendon, Jamaica with the help of members of the Portland Cottage Community. The artistes are part of Panos Caribbean’s VOICES for Climate Change Education project which is carried out in Collaboration with the National Environmental Education Committee (NEEC) with funding from various environment partners.. The project utilizes popular entertainers to spread the climate change and biodiversity conservation message. - On June 16, 2011.

By Indi Mclymont-Lafayette, Journalist

Durban, South Africa. December 7, 2011 – For the first time in four years Jamaica’s voice will be noticeably absent from the high level presentations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban South Africa where world leaders will be making their input to the climate discussions.
The opening speeches for the high level segment will run from December 6-8 but Jamaica was not named as a speaker over the two day period even though the island had a 6 member delegation present at the conference.
Head of the Jamaican delegation, Leonie Barnaby said that she was still trying to see if Jamaica would be given a chance to speak. It however appeared highly unlikely as the UN speaking system is based on rank with the heads of state and heads of government being the first to speak, followed by Deputy Heads of States, Ministers and then other heads of delegations. Since Jamaica does not have a Minister or high level delegate present their chances of speaking are minimal and the island was not listed in UN programme of speakers.
According to the 2012 Global Climate risk Index just launched in Durban, Jamaica is ranked 22 in the world among countries which have been affected by the impact of climate change (storms, floods, hurricanes, drought etc.) Jamaica and small islands in the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Oceans have been classified as a climate change hotspot based on the fact that they are at risk of sinking due to sea level rise. They also face other climate threats such as increasing temperatures, sea level rise, droughts, more intense hurricanes and flooding.
Despite this, Jamaica will not be among those making a statement. This is due in part to the upcoming general election and possibly budget restrictions. Roughly 7 other Caribbean islands will be presenting at the high level segment. They are Grenada, Belize, Dominica, Barbados, Cuba, St Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago. The number of high level representation of Caribbean islands is also less this year partly due to elections in Guyana, St Lucia and the Bahamas.
Speakers at the opening ceremony include South African President Jacob Zuma and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Statements will be made from heads of state, heads of governments and other heads of delegation over the reminder of the week. The annual Climate Change Conference is a platform which provides a greater level of visibility of what’s happening and the needs that must be met to reduce the effects of climate change.
At the conference, the Caribbean and other small islands are fighting to get firm emission targets of 1.5 degrees and 350 parts per million. If these targets are not met they argue that the small islands will not survive the impacts of climate change. (End 07/12/11)

Fishermen in Portland Cottage, Clarendon, Jamaica, tend to their fishing nets during a community event held by Panos Caribbean and other environment partners to raise awareness about the dangers and impacts of Climate Change and encourage and foster mitigation activities at the community level. The community has been affected by severe storm surge during at least one major hurricane in 2004 during which several homes were submerged and some washed out to sea. Several persons lost their lives. Fishermen in the community are also complaining of significantly lower sea levels as well as noticeable reductions in fishing yields. - JUNE 2012

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