GUYANA’s former President, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, has joined other world leaders in their call for urgent global action on climate change.The appeal was made early last week in the Polish capital, Warsaw, meeting place of the just-concluded UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
According to a release issued yesterday, he met Wednesday morning with UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon to specifically focus on the needs of the smallest and most vulnerable states, including those in the 39-member Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
He is said to have supported the delegation from the Republic of Nauru in the South Pacific, which currently holds the chairmanship of AOSIS, in their conversations with the Secretary-General about the threats to their members.
Mr. Jagdeo also brought the Secretary-General up to speed on what took place at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka during discussions about climate finance, specifically the report of the Commonwealth Expert Group on Climate Finance, which he chaired.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting with Ban, Mr. Jagdeo reportedly echoed a sentiment he shared with Commonwealth Heads of Government, this being the need for them to engage each other, if climate change is to be significantly addressed.
“The world has committed to finalising a legally binding climate agreement by 2015; that is now just two years away,” he said, adding:
“If we are to have a chance of averting catastrophic climate change, climate change has to become a Heads of Government issue between now and then. Leaving it to Environment Ministers or officials will be inadequate.
“That is why I fully support Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s plans for a Climate Summit in New York next year.”
He also stressed that the international community could do much more between now and 2015 to make a practical difference for the world’s most vulnerable countries.
“In my engagements with the leaders of AOSIS,” he said, “they emphasised their practical needs today; not in 2015. There is a lot the world can do to help the world’s most vulnerable countries. Negotiations for a post-2015 agreement are an important part of that.
“But, so are practical interventions today, to help build hurricane-proof hospitals and schools; to make agriculture and other economic activities more resilient to climate events; to create new financial mechanisms that make clean energy more attractive. These are practical solutions that can be delivered today.
“Not only do they make moral and economic sense, but they are indispensable to building trust within the international community that the world is serious about addressing climate change.”
In parallel with his advocacy for the more vulnerable countries, Mr Jagdeo continued to highlight the important role that forests can play in future climate solutions. On several occasions, he emphasised the power of partnerships between developed countries and forest countries on deforestation.
On that score, he joined the Governments of Colombia, Norway, the UK and Germany, during another engagement, in declaring that they will be working together through an ambitious partnership to provide performance-based payments across Colombia’s Amazon region.
This partnership – which potentially involves some 40 million hectares of the Amazon — will join with Brazil’s Amazon Fund and Guyana’s national forest mechanism to significantly expand the proportion of the Amazon that is generating payments for climate services.
At the same meeting, the Governments of the US, the UK, Germany and Norway announced their commitment of US$280 million to a new World Bank Bio-Carbon Fund to support more sustainable agriculture in countries like Colombia and Indonesia.
Mr. Jagdeo not only commended both Colombia’s vision and the new donor programme, but also highlighted the importance of continuing to spread the good examples of partnership that are starting to emerge.
The meeting at reference was addressed, by way of videoconferencing, by US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, who emphasised the importance of tackling deforestation as part of a global climate agreement , points which were also picked up on by the UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Mr. Ed Davies; the Chief US Negotiator, Mr. Todd Stern; Indonesian Presidential Advisor, Mr. Pak Heru; and the Norwegian and German Ministers of the Environment.
On Thursday night, Mr Jagdeo attended a high-level event hosted by the Indonesian Government, whose US$1 billion forest programme is one of the three largest in the world (the other two being in Brazil and Guyana).
There, he joined the Indonesian and Norwegian Environment Ministers, as well as the Head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Mr. Achim Steiner as the Indonesian Government provided a detailed overview of their work to date.
At that forum, he again stressed the importance of leadership from forest countries such as Indonesia, and talked about how Guyana was starting to see the fruits of several years of hard work as funds from the Guyana-Norway partnership start to flow into Guyana’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
However, he highlighted that partnerships should not be limited to countries like Indonesia, Guyana, Brazil and Colombia – but should include countries in Africa who were left out today.
He also re-iterated the importance of a functional REDD+ mechanism in a global climate agreement – noting that negotiations to achieve this were ongoing in Warsaw and must be completed there.