Speech by the Prime Minister

22nd Session of the Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change






Mr. President,

Please accept Jamaica’s heartiest congratulations and best wishes on your chairmanship of this Conference.

I also express our sincere appreciation to the Government and people of the Kingdom of Morocco, for the excellent facilities and warm hospitality afforded us.

As a small island state, Jamaica finds itself looking ahead each year with some trepidation, to the anticipated hurricane season.  We do so because, increasingly, these occurrences are more threatening and more damaging in impact.  Against this background, we are in deep sympathy with the governments and peoples of Haiti, Cuba, The Bahamas and the United States of America, for losses sustained as a result of the passage of Hurricane Matthew this year.

These developments are potent evidence of the negative impacts of climate change.  Like other small island developing states, Jamaica is vulnerable to the effects of sea-level rise, severe weather events, changes in rainfall patterns and increases in temperatures.

In addition to experiencing more intense tropical storms and hurricanes, our countries are subject to more incidents of damage due to flooding, longer periods of, and more severe droughts, and increasing cases of vector-borne diseases transmitted mainly by the aedes aegypti mosquito.

Mr. President, an increase in the number of tropical cyclones since 2004 has also caused severe damage to our infrastructure and has reduced our GDP considerably. The delivery of potable water to Jamaican households was also severely hampered over the past few years, due to one of the worst droughts in the island’s history. These drought conditions also affected the health and agriculture sectors; the latter being mainly rain-fed, increasing the cost of production to farmers, as well as to consumers, who had to pay higher prices for agricultural products.

For these reasons, Mr. President, my country is committed, together with our CARICOM brothers and sisters, to the process which has been underway through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to seek international agreement to halt, and even reverse the adverse effects of climate change.

The entry into force of the Paris Agreement on 4thNovember, and the convening here, in Marrakesh, of this first Conference of Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties of the Paris Agreement, are major milestones on the road to developing a low carbon, climate resilient world. Jamaica is proud of the leadership role it has played to get us this far, and I wish to assure this august body that Jamaica remains fully committed to ratification of the Paris Agreement.  To this end, we are working assiduously on the requisite domestic procedures.

We are also conscious that with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, a global framework has emerged to address the multiplicity of issues, including climate-related concerns, affecting the growth and development of all our countries and the well-being of our peoples.

Mr. President, climate change is a developmental issue of global proportion that, in many cases, requires solutions which are beyond the efforts of many developing countries.  Small island developing states are challenged.  Mr. President, those of us which are also Highly Indebted Middle Income countries are even moreso.  For us, urgent action, increased support and creative solutions are a must.

This Marrakesh Meeting is therefore an opportunity to consolidate the progress made, and accelerate action on climate change. For small island developing states, adaptation to climate change is also critical.

Jamaica continues to build resilience in our systems through a rigorous national adaptation planning process, but our continued progress can only be realized through the strengthened global partnerships, which we expect to result from our meetings here this week.

We look forward therefore, to a scaling-up of ambition in limiting temperature increases to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels; increased levels of, and simplified access, to climate financing with a strong focus on adaptation for developing countries; the use of innovative mechanisms such as debt for climate change swaps; and the full acceptance of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage.

This conference is a further call to action for us to be decisive in the agreements reached, innovative in solutions proposed, and thereby hold ourselves accountable to future generations. It is time for action and I urge us to boldly seize the moment.

Thank you.