Saint Lucia has been given the responsibility of leading Caribbean Community (CARICOM) negotiations at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, France. This is so because Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister, Hon Dr Kenny D. Anthony, is the CARICOM Lead Head of Government on Climate Change. It’s a charge that the Government of Saint Lucia has taken seriously, with Minister for Public Service, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, Dr. James Fletcher, very much at the forefront of negotiations.
The Prime Minister has opined that Saint Lucia is held in high esteem on this issue due to its leadership. Said Dr. Anthony,
“When you have people like Dr. Fletcher who is extremely passionate and extremely knowledgeable, and he has a bright, talented and dedicated team around him, that is indicative of the sort of governance that is being practiced by this Government. And that is the quality of leadership you want to see.
“To read the words of a fellow Saint Lucian being quoted in the international press as one of the foremost thinkers in his field of endeavour, it’s the sort of development that should always give us pause. That we command such a position of respect and admiration should be a matter of pride for all Saint Lucians.”
Dr. Fletcher has been articulating the CARICOM position that global warming needs to be kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius. It is a perspective shared by the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) and now being championed by a growing number of developing countries. According to the Climate Vulnerability Forum, 108 countries in total are behind the 1.5 message.
The minister has been quoted by a number of major international news agencies, including the BBC, New Zealand Herald, Washington Post, Politico, the Sydney Morning Herald, US News and World Report, and the Associated Press, among others. He says that “1.5 to stay alive” is gaining momentum at COP21. Most importantly, the draft agreements reflect that currency.
Said Dr. Fletcher,
“It’s a fight that really should not be focused on numbers, 1.5, 2, 2.5. It should be focused on lives. We’re not fighting for numbers; we’re fighting for lives.
“I believe there is language, and I’ve been speaking to both the US legal people and our legal people, and urging them to come up with language that I believe will address this.
“I think we are closer now. I have seen language that might even suggest that, I think, that there is a solution. But it’s not left to me.”
Climate scientists believe that keeping warming to 1.5 degrees could increase the chance of survival for coral reefs, slow the rise in the number of ever-increasing severe weather disasters, and help keep the planet from hitting dreaded tipping points of irreversible environmental damage.