Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 28, 2015 (SKNIS): St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, will attend the upcoming United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP21 Conference in Paris, France, scheduled for November 30 to December 11, 2015. The COP 21 conference will follow on the heels of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which is presently taking place in Malta from November 27-29, 2015. The prime minister left the Federation on November 22 to attend both meetings.
Prime Minister Harris is scheduled to give an address at the conference on the opening day. The conference will be held as a result of hard negotiations among world leaders for five years. The negotiations are geared towards mitigating the acute differences between developed and developing countries in addressing the threat of global warming. World leaders are expected to face many important decisions regarding global policies to address climate change challenges. The decisions coming out of the COP21 are expected to have tremendous effect throughout the world and are hoped to prevent the planet’s catastrophic overheating through the formulation of a new global deal to curb emissions by 2020.
According to scientists, global warming is set to reach as much as 5C (9F) above pre-industrial levels. Scientists have also estimated that warming above 2C (4F) will result in catastrophic and irreversible changes to the weather, including droughts, floods, heat waves, fiercer storms and sea level rises. Although the Caribbean Region is not considered to be a major producer of greenhouse gases, the region has been identified as an area considered to be one of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In the case of St. Kitts and Nevis, climate change poses significant threats to the tourism sector, coastal and terrestrial ecosystems as well as critical infrastructure and human settlements along the coastal zone.
The international political response to climate change began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where the “Rio Convention” included the adoption of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC). This convention set out a framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The UNFCC which entered into force on 21st March, 1994, now has a near universal membership of 195 parties.
The conference is expected to attract close to 50, 000 participants with nearly 150 heads of government and 25,000 official delegates from government, intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, NGO’s and civil society.
Prime Minister Harris’ delegation to the COP21 Conference includes the Honourable Ian “Patches” Liburd, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Posts, Urban Development and Transport; Bjorn Hazel, Foreign Service Officer; Cheryl Jeffers, Assistant Physical Planning Officer; Calvin Pemberton, Chairman of Development, Planning and Control Board; June Hughes, Senior Environmental Officer; Mr. Gurdip Bath, Commercial Attaché, St. Kitts and Nevis High Commission in London; and Dr. David Doyle, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to UNESCO.