Over the next two days, Belize is virtually hosting what is dubbed The Placencia Ambition Forum (PAF). The forum is having the participation of regional and international leaders who will engage in climate change negotiations with the central idea of increasing ambition and a focus on safeguarding the Paris Agreement. Among the official remarks made this morning for the opening was Belize’s, Prime Minister Dean Barrow.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: History will reflect that at the start of the second decade of the twenty first century we on planet earth found ourselves in a defining moment and history will sternly judge how we respond to this acceleration of enmeshed health, economic and climate crises. If left to the small island and low lying coastal developing states history would absolve us. That is because we would seize the moment and tackle decisively not just the consequences of the pandemic but the persisting climate and economical vastation. At the Madrid Climate Conference in November 2019 the Alliance of Small Island States made a strong push for the 2020 launch of a decade of climate action. We called for strengthened NDCs, increased climate finance particularly for adaptation and loss and damage, and robust rules to support parties efforts for real reduction in global emissions. AOSIS also presented its own ambition package, in it we resolved to submit NDCs in 2020 and we committed to long term low emissions strategies. In fact we expressly undertook to pursue the initiatives needed to move to actual net zero emissions by 2050. Both our demands and our commitments stand. Make no mistake AOSIS fully supports the focus and finding a cure for and recovery from COVID-19, we point out though that there can be no cure for climate inaction. Accordingly we must all press for delivery on the promise of Paris. We are an alliance of low lying islands and coastal states, we confront destabilizing and extreme natural events on a continuous basis. These exogenous shocks coupled with endemic structural challenges routinely threaten our development and place the 65 million people across SIDS at daily risk. To put this in perspective, in the midst of this global pandemic four island states; Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga suffered tragic impacts of a category five cyclone. A few weeks form now it will be the Caribbean’s turn to face a predictably volatile hurricane season. The gravity and the urgency of the climate crisis is such that according to the IPCC we may only have a decade to escape the most dire consequences for people and planet. Avoidance of this doomsday scenario will require nothing short of a dramatic shift from business as usual.”
Also in his opening, Prime Minister Dean Barrow committed to a plan for Belize that will secure us a carbon-negative nation. Other remarks were made by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Gutierrez, Omar Figueroa, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, the Environment and Sustainable Development, and the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Ambassador Patricia Espinosa. The Placencia Ambition Forum is being organized by Belize as the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). The forum will wrap up tomorrow.