Guyana calls for meaningful collective action to combat climate change

Bharrat Jagdeo

Translating negotiating positions into meaningful collective action is long overdue in efforts to combat climate change. That’s what Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo told the 16th conference of the parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. He said this can only happen if political leaders make the necessary decisions and stand by them.

But he lamented the small number of political leaders at the Cancun climate conference, noting that if the process of downgrading the attendance of political leadership continues, the decisions needed to create a better future for the planet will not be made.

Jagdeo: We all accept – most of us reluctantly – that we cannot secure a global, legally binding climate agreement here. But what we can secure are decisions to make progress across a number of areas that advance our work towards such an agreement. We can make progress on addressing deforestation and forest degradation, we can make progress on technology transfer and we can make progress on financing. But ultimately, the question at Cancun is more profound than might be implied by simply listing these areas for action. Ultimately, the question at Cancun is a question of sincerity.

NARR: President Jagdeo said there are three ways in which that sincerity is being tested.

Jagdeo: One, even if we accept we cannot secure a legally binding agreement here, are we sincere in our commitment to securing one as soon as possible? Can we find a way through our differences on the form of that agreement? And can we leave here having set out a specific path to achieve a legally binding agreement? Two, is the developed world sincere in its commitment to provide immediate action on financing for the developing world? In many ways, this is the defining test of international sincerity. I recognize that not every country here supports the Copenhagen Accord, and that many associated themselves with the accord reluctantly. But even those that chose for their own legitimate reasons not to support the Accord, can we welcome some of its elements, especially those that relate to financing?

NARR: The Guyanese president warned that it would be a mistake of profound historical consequence if this test of sincerity was failed by those who pledged to provide the financing.

Jagdeo: If individual members of the developed world cheat even on the financing commitments of the Copenhagen Accord, they will send a disastrous signal that they are not up to the challenge of defeating climate change. The potential for progress will rapidly dwindle, and those of us who have expended extensive political capital in trying to mobilise public support for action on climate change will see that support retreat. Specifically, and most immediately, we must see a stop to the repackaging of existing aid commitments as part of the U$30 billion that was promised for the period 2010-2012. The glossy brochures and propaganda, implying progress where there is none, are corrosive to progress.

NARR: Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo. This is Donn Bobb reporting.

(duration: 3’47″)

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