The Cayman Islands must set more aggressive targets on increasing renewable energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the light of the Paris agreement on climate change, green energy advocates have said.
The Paris climate deal, hailed as an historic feat of international diplomacy, established a commitment from 195 countries to contain planet-warming carbon emissions.
Cayman, as a British territory, was not involved in the talks and is not a direct signatory to the agreement, which set a goal of reducing global temperature rises to less than 2C. The final submissions to the agreement are not enforceable and carry no consequences.
However. James Whittaker, president of the Cayman Renewable Energy Association, said the Paris accord represents a “paradigm shift” in the international approach to climate change and suggested Cayman would have to get on board.
Tim Austin, deputy director of the Department of Environment, said the National Conservation Council is also pushing for clearer and more ambitious targets.
A draft national energy policy, published in 2013, sets a goal that 13.5 percent of electricity sold should be generated from renewable sources by 2030. It also targets a 19 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to a “business as usual scenario.”
Mr. Whittaker said the Paris agreement, referred to as COP 21, represents an international consensus that far more radical action is needed. He said Cayman’s targets on renewable energy are among the least ambitious of any country.
While Cayman’s net contribution to climate change is negligible, the territory is among the highest producers of carbon emissions per capita in the world, according to Mr. Austin.
Mr. Whittaker, added, “I believe COP 21 sets ambitious climate change benchmarks globally and it clearly suggests that Cayman must take a more aggressive approach to adopting renewable energy and reducing our carbon emissions. This is something CREA have been telling the government for some time now. That said, it still doesn’t appear the decision-makers in government are yet paying attention to the critical issues of renewable energy and carbon reduction.”
He added, “I am cautiously optimistic that the government will finally wake up and realize that this paradigm shift is happening all over the world for a reason and will start to ensure it happens in Cayman soon.”
Mr. Austin said the Cayman Islands could request to be included in commitments coming out of the agreement.
“At the moment, the U.K. does not push out those climate agreements to its territories, but this could potentially change with Cayman’s recent request to the U.K. government to include Cayman in its second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol (2013-2020).
“The National Conservation Council is currently working on a climate change policy and would like to see clearer, more ambitious targets, in line with what the U.K. has signed up to.”
He said the Paris summit represents a significant milestone in gaining an international consensus that something needs to be done to curb the amounts of CO2 going into the atmosphere and limit the consequences of global warming.
Mr. Austin said the ambitious targets set in Paris were driven, in part, by small-island states concerned about the consequences of climate change.
|Tim Austin - DOE|
In 2009, the Maldives, one of the flattest countries on Earth, held a Cabinet meeting underwater in scuba gear as a stunt to generate publicity for the consequences of not acting on the issue.
Cayman’s position is less grave, but Mr. Austin warns that with the majority of Cayman’s population and major infrastructure located a short distance from the coastline, increasing storm intensity and flood risk present a potentially significant challenge.
He said the impact of climate change is already evident on coral reefs around Cayman.
Mr. Whittaker said Cayman’s size should not stop it from doing its part.
“While our aggregate emissions are small compared to large economies, we emit a lot of carbon per capita on this little island. I believe it’s a hypocritical and shortsighted position to just let the rest of the world handle it when we are expecting others to do things we are not willing to do ourselves.
“We need to show leadership here, regionally and globally. If we expect the world to change we have to be part of that change.” More
George Monbiot superbly sums up the talks, saying: “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.”
|The Path From Paris|
He writes that: “A maximum of 1.5C, now an aspirational and unlikely target, was eminently achievable when the first UN climate change conference took place in Berlin in 1995. Two decades of procrastination, caused by lobbying – overt, covert and often downright sinister – by the fossil fuel lobby, coupled with the reluctance of governments to explain to their electorates that short-term thinking has long-term costs, ensure that the window of opportunity is now three-quarters shut. The talks in Paris are the best there have ever been. And that is a terrible indictment.””
Here is 350’s Bill McKibben, following up on the Avaaz positive clarion call to arms with a powerful article in today’s Guardian titled ‘Climate deal: the pistol has fired, so why aren’t we running?’
“With the climate talks in Paris now over, the world has set itself a serious goal: limit temperature rise to 1.5C. Or failing that, 2C. Hitting those targets is absolutely necessary: even the one-degree rise that we’ve already seen is wreaking havoc on everything from ice caps to ocean chemistry. But meeting it won’t be easy, given that we’re currently on track for between 4C and 5C. Our only hope is to decisively pick up the pace . . . the only important question, is: how fast . . .
“You’ve got to stop fracking right away (in fact, that may be the greatest imperative of all, since methane gas does its climate damage so fast). You have to start installing solar panels and windmills at a breakneck pace – and all over the world. The huge subsidies doled out to fossil fuel have to end yesterday, and the huge subsidies to renewable energy had better begin tomorrow. You have to raise the price of carbon steeply and quickly, so everyone gets a clear signal to get off of it . . .
“The world’s fossil fuel companies still have five times the carbon we can burn and have any hope of meeting even the 2C target – and they’re still determined to burn it. The Koch Brothers will spend $900m on this year’s American elections. As we know from the ongoing Exxon scandal, there’s every reason to think that this industry will lie at every turn in an effort to hold on to their power –
What this boils down to is not an issue of National Security, but of Global Security, of Planetary Security. The huge subsidies doled out to fossil fuel companies must be clawed back and put towards the Clean Energy Agenda. This is particularly an issue given what we know from the ongoing Exxon scandal, there’s every reason to think that this industry will lie at every turn unless made to pay for their endangerment of humanity.
We have to raise the price of carbon steeply and quickly and use this income to mitigate and sequester carbon in the atmosphere.
Kevin Anderson concludes that we have to make: “Fundamental changes to the political and economic framing of contemporary society. This is a mitigation challenge far beyond anything discussed in Paris – yet without it our well-intended aspirations will all too soon wither and die on the vine. We owe our children, our planet and ourselves more than that. So let Paris be the catalyst for a new paradigm – one in which we deliver a sustainable, equitable and prosperous future for all.”
We must remember that the Montreal Treaty did work. Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of the United Nations stated "Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date has been the Montreal Protocol" Remember; "It always seems impossible until it's done" Nelson Mandela. More
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