The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's 21st Conference of the Parties, which took place in Paris this month, resulted in a historic treaty – 'the Paris Agreement' – between 195 nations to combat climate change and unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future.
The Paris Agreement attempts to offer protection to small low-lying islands such as the Cayman Islands, by laying out plans to keep global warming to "well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels" and pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Minister of Environment Wayne Panton says the agreement will provide a guiding framework for Cayman on further steps to reduce its carbon footprint.
'The treaty calls for a special report in 2018 on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C and that report could provide some important information for Cayman in terms of the measures needed to address the effects of climate change', he said.
'Prior to the Agreement, the Cayman Islands Government had planned a review of its National Energy Policy. The treaty will impact our efforts to refine the local framework and enable more avenues to reduce greenhouse gas emissions'.
Cabinet recently took the decision to request that the United Kingdom include Cayman in its ratification of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (KP2), which runs until 31 December 2020. Under KP2 , the UK has a reduction target of 16% by 2020, compared with 2005 levels for emissions. Cayman is obligated to continue providing information to the UK on local measures to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.
In addition to the energy policy, Government currently has a draft national climate change policy. Both policies will be the two instruments to help guide the establishment of greenhouse gas reduction targets and the methods of achieving the agreed reductions, as well as identify actions needed to adapt to climate change.
The draft National Climate Change Policy (2011) and National Energy Policy will be undergoing a review and update in early 2016.
'Policies relating to energy security and climate change are intimately linked as they both seek to reduce our current reliance on carbon-based energy production and for the Cayman Islands, one is as essential as the other', Minister Panton said.
Both the Minister and the DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie are hopeful that the Paris Agreement will encourage Cayman to make greater strides in reducing its carbon footprint.
'To date, actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change have not been a focus of national policy. This will need to change if we are to make any meaningful progress on the issues surrounding climate change', Mrs Ebanks-Petrie said.
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