BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 25, 2016–Fourteen CARICOM nations, with only the exclusion of Montserrat, a British overseas territory, have joined 160 countries and the European Union in signing the historic Paris Agreement on Friday, April 22, according to a listing of the signing ceremony published by the United Nations.
The participation of 175 signatories far exceeded the historical record for first-day signatures to an international agreement, a UN report said.
“The world will have met the requirement needed for the Paris Agreement to enter into force,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “if all 175 Parties that have signed today take the next step at the national level and join the Agreement.”
“Fifteen countries submitted their ratifications during the signing ceremony including small island developing countries that are on the frontlines of climate impacts,” the report added.
UN documentation published after the signing reveals that Belize, Barbados, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia were among those 15 states which have also deposited instruments ratifying the treaty.
We note that the formal process for ratification in Belize requires the approval of the Senate, the Upper House of Parliament in Belize, which is controlled by the ruling party.
All Central American countries, except for Nicaragua, also signed the Paris Agreement, but apart from Belize, no other country in Central America has deposited its instrument of ratification for it.
“As members of SIDS [small island developing states], CARICOM was the first to call global attention to climate change—at a time when others were ready to dismiss those nascent warnings as apocalyptic theatre,” said CARICOM chair, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize, at the event in New York.
SIDS and CARICOM in particular, would be among those severely impacted—if not decimated—by the adverse impacts of climate change, Barrow said.
The Caribbean Climate Change Center has shared the results of a study by Krins Karnauskas, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, which indicates that 73% of islands will become substantially more arid by mid-century, up from an estimate of 50 percent, posing a threat to food and water security.
“In 2009, the world knew already that our survival was at stake; yet it took a veritable label of Sisyphus—six long years of drawn-out battle to finalize an agreement validating our hopes and vindicating our rights,” the CARICOM chair said.
He warned, though, that the aim to reduce global warming by 1.5% is threatened on the current trajectory, and underscored that the problem is “a matter of survival for our region.”
“A child born in one of our SIDS today may very well see her home disappear within her lifetime,” said Barrow, adding that it is essential that unrelenting pressure be maintained to realize the aims of the Paris Agreement.
“Everyone must play a part,” he added, underscoring the need to “act together, act urgently act now… to get absolutely right an existentially fraught climate future that is already upon us.”
“Even as the agreement was adopted, countries recognized that present pledges to reduce emissions were still insufficient to reach these goals. The Paris Agreement mandates regular meetings every five years, starting in 2018, to review progress, and to consider whether it is necessary to increase ambition,” the UN report said.
Barrow also spoke of the need for an equitable climate financing mechanism, and the promise in the Green Climate Fund as an effective implementation mechanism under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), against the backdrop of latest developments of the financial landscape of the Caribbean.
That landscape has changed substantially with de-risking, which Barrow said has been depriving domestic financial institutions of correspondent banking relations and threatening to lock already small economies out of the international trade regime.
At the meeting, companies were challenged to put a US$100 price tag on a metric ton of carbon they emit.
“As world leaders from the US and more than 150 countries gather on April 22 to sign the Paris Climate Agreement, more than 100 leading companies joined together to welcome the agreement and call for the US economy to shift to a low-carbon future,” the companies said in a joint statement Friday. They include Adidas, Du Pont, eBay, Hewlett Packard, Ikea, Kellog’s, Timberland, and Philips.