Jamaica has become the first Caribbean nation to commit to a tougher climate action plan under the Paris Agreement, adding targets for forestry and tightening restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from energy.
With the threat of COVID-19 still dominating the vast majority of global policy discussions, Jamaica has become the 11th nation to bring climate emergency back onto its national agenda.
Marking five years since the 2015 Paris Agreement, Jamaica submitted an updated plan to address climate change on the 1st of July. Known as a nationally determined contribution (NDC), these new goals are moving towards an economy-wide target by placing increased emphasis on land use change and forestry emissions, while committing to larger emission reductions in the energy sector.
Jamaica’s new NDC is more ambitious than its previous one,” the Jamaican government stated in a submission to the United Nations, referring to increases in both sector reach, and stricter energy sector emissions.
Although, unlike its predecessor, this new NDC did not project Jamaica’s total emissions in 2030, the plan promised to reduce emissions in land use change and forestry by 25.4% below “business as usual” (BAU) levels and by a further 28.5% with international support.
According to the IISD, new baselines mean the estimated BAU in 2030 in terms of emissions are 8.2 MtCO2e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent), far below the 14.5MtCO2e estimated in Jamaica’s first NDC.
Creating community projects
Alongside emissions targets, the NDC also proposed community-based projects aiming to encourage climate resilience. These included agricultural projects focusing on supporting the precarious fisheries sector, and integrated watershed management to preserve biodiversity and prevent ecosystem loss.
Accomplished through a variety of sustainable agriculture policies, initial estimates suggest that the project could yield substantial emission reductions of more than 550,000 tCO2e during its four-year duration.
Meanwhile, through banning single use plastics bags and straws, and an integrated waste management PPP(public-private partnership), Jamaica’s emissions from waste are also hoped to decrease substantially.
Acknowledging the risks facing the island nation due to climate change, the plan also emphasised future sea level rise, increased hurricane intensity, and drought as key areas of address, bringing crucial attention to the vulnerabilities of developing islands states.
Plans met with praise
Praised by Alok Sharma, President of the Cop26 talks and UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in a recent tweet, international attitude towards Jamaica’s commitment has been overwhelmingly positive.
[It is] fantastic to see Jamaica’s NDC showing greater climate ambition and scope during these difficult times. We ask all countries to publish their own ambitious NDCs as soon as possible.”Sharma said
However, Jamaica’s efforts alone are not enough. The World Resources Institute think-tank estimates that the 11 NDCs submitted who have submitted NDCs so far account for just 2.9% of global emissions.
Despite playing host to COP26 next year, the UK itself is amongst those who have yet to update their NDP, potentially at risk for missing the UN’s 2020 deadline to do so.
However, according to Climate Change News, a spokesperson has said the government was committed to bringing forward a plan “well ahead of Cop26”.