The following is the address by Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, to the World Leaders Summit of the 26th Conference of Parties (COP 26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which got under way today in Glasgow, Scotland in the United Kingdom.
On behalf of the people of Jamaica, I thank the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Italian Republic, for their strong commitment and leadership in hosting this COP 26 within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the excellent arrangements that have been made to keep us safe.
The message is clear – climate change remains a pre-eminent priority for global action. As we have come to appreciate with the pandemic, “no one is safe until everyone is safe”. So too with climate change. All countries must act responsibly and with ambition, to preserve our climate for current and future generations.
Importantly, the pandemic demonstrated that the world has the capacity to develop global solutions in record time when we believe and agree that the problem threatens our safety and security. It also demonstrated the need for equity. Equity is similarly critical to our response to climate change.
FUNDING FOR LOSS AND DAMAGE
Countries that have profited the most from carbon over decades have a responsibility to make resources and technology available to others to adapt and transition to low carbon economies. This was the basis of the 2009 $100 billion per year pledge, which still needs to be met if the developing world is to achieve our resilience and low carbon emission goals.
Additionally, if we are to have any realistic chance of meeting our climate ambitions, we need financing that is predictable, less fragmented, and easier to access. Allow me to emphasise that for small island developing states, the greater need is for funding for loss and damage, which is necessary for our protection and recovery from disasters, as well as for climate adaptation.
There are creative funding solutions; for example, with grant support from development partners, Jamaica became the first small island state in the world, to independently sponsor a catastrophe bond which will provide financial protection against losses from hurricanes. Also, with GCF support we have launched a Green Bond Project with our stock exchange towards mobilising domestic and regional capital to finance resilient infrastructure projects.
Furthermore, in collaboration with the UK government, the GCF and Oxford University, we are developing a predictive climate risk tool to identify vulnerable areas and guide the building of infrastructure. This will also support sound investment decision-making.
Colleagues, while climate change affects all countries, the impact on Small Island Developing States is disproportionately greater. Climate change threatens our very survival. Meeting the 1.5 degress Celcius target is a matter of life and death for us. We are at a pivotal moment in history. All countries must increase their NDC ambition to get us back on track.
Despite significant fiscal constraints and developmental challenges, Jamaica is acting.
We submitted our enhanced NDCs in June 2020, one of the first countries to do so, and launched our Implementation plan last month.
AGRICULTURE PROJECTS ATTRACTING YOUNG PEOPLE
We have commenced preparation of our 2050 Long Term Emissions Reduction and Climate Resilient Strategy;
Our climate-smart agriculture projects are integrating technology, and once again attracting young people;
Our mangrove restoration programme is well underway, together with our efforts to plant THREE million trees in THREE years; and
Our fish sanctuaries and pilot programmes for reef restoration are effectively engaging coastal communities.
Colleagues, our actions will determine whether the planet will remain liveable for future generations.
Let us all play our part and meet this moment with urgent and decisive action.