James Fletcher bats for Adaptation Fund

MARRAKECH, Morocco — DR James Fletcher, a well-respected figure in global climate circles and former head of the CARICOM Task Force on Sustainable Development, has come out to bat for the Adaptation Fund, whose future under the Paris Agreement is being hotly contested.

“I think the Adaptation Fund should sit under the Paris Agreement. You see, the Adaptation Fund is very important because the Adaptation Fund is specifically for adaptation. The Green Climate Fund deals with both mitigation and adaptation and if you listen to some of the pledges that have been made, there is still a heavy bias towards mitigation,” he said, from the international climate talks being held here.

james-fletcher
Dr. James Fletcher

“For us in the Caribbean, mitigation is important because mitigation will allow us to transform our economies, give us the energy security that we need. But as far as greenhouse gases are concerned, mitigation means nothing for the Caribbean. We contribute what, one quarter of one per cent of greenhouse gases?” he argued.

“So whilst from a moral perspective and also from an economic transformation perspective we are quite interested in mitigation and we want the mitigation funds to flow — particularly those mitigation funds that will give us access to grant or concessional financing, so some of our initiatives in geo-thermal and others can take place — the biggest issue for us is adaptation,” he said.

Investment in adaptation will enhance the ability of Caribbean islands — which are especially vulnerable to climate change — to be ready for and recover from climate impacts, including sea-level rise and extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts.

Already a number of Caribbean islands — among them Jamaica — have benefitted from the Adaptation Fund, which is helping to boost the resilience of the local agriculture and tourism sectors.

According to Fletcher, one needs not look very far for the evidence of the Caribbean’s vulnerability and the need for the Adaptation Fund.

“We need to see there is money for adaptation for us to make our infrastructure more resilient, our health sector more resilient, our agriculture more resilient, our water sector more resilient. These are issues that are very pressing and every time we have a hurricane season, every time we have a drought season, it really brings home the fact that we are way behind time where adaptation measures are concerned,” noted Fletcher, also the former minister for sustainable development for Saint Lucia, who is providing technical support for CARICOM at this year’s international climate talks.

Recent years have seen the Adaptation Fund struggling to raise needed funds to support its projects, following the decline in resources from the sale of certified emissions reduction credits from Clean Development Mechanism projects.

Fortunately, countries have been dipping into their coffers, with the result that the fund has been able to continue to do its work. This year alone, it had a target to reach US$80 million and up to yesterday afternoon, the news was it had received pledges for up to US$81 million.

Meanwhile, the fund — which was operationalised in 2010 — enjoys the trust and esteem of developing countries that for the first time, through its establishment, were able to enjoy direct access to funding for their approved projects.

It also has a readiness programme that supports the capacity of countries to effectively design and implement projects while, as a matter of policy, emphacising civil society participation and the need for gender mainstreaming.

 

 

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Caribbean strives for strength through partnerships in battle for climate security

caricom-team
The team of CARICOM leaders, negotiators and support staff at the Marrakech Talks earlier this week.

Jamaica and other Caribbean countries are looking at partnerships to ensure the security of the islands’ future, in the face of global climate change.

After two weeks here — three weeks for some, notably negotiators — it is clear that this will be critical.

The truth is, negotiating climate change is like dancing the Tango. To be effective, you need to be familiar with the music and if you’re not, you need to get familiar — and fast. Essential, too, is having a partner because no one dances the Tango alone. What is more, you need to know, understand and remain in sync with your partner, ever mindful of his/her foot.

Jamaica gets it, as do other Caribbean countries, whose leaders have been working — backed by their team of seasoned negotiators, which CARICOM has — in concert with each other and key international partners to get what they need from the negotiations. No where was this more evident than in Paris last year and they have continued those efforts this year.

“Climate change is of fundamental importance to Jamaica, ensuring that we have strong regulation, and monitoring regulations, in place to ensure that Jamaica is put in the best possible position to mitigate and to adapt — and do so as far as is absolutely necessary for our survival. Jamaica is, of course, a part of CARICOM where we have many common issues and we are also a part of AOSIS [Alliance of Small Island States]…” noted Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith.

“We continue to foster these relationships, very much as part of our strategy to ensure that we are a part of a body and a group of islands that have shared concerns, shared interests and shared vulnerabilities. This has given us additional strength at the bargaining table and in the negotiating process  — and one we certainly intend to continue to ensure,” she added.

FF Min & team.jpg
Kamina Johnson Smith, Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister (second right) and UnaMay Gordon (left), head of the Climate Change Division with Petre Williams-Raynor (right), Country Director, Panos Caribbean – Jamaica, and Indi Mclymont-Lafayette, consultant with Panos Caribbean.

Johnson Smith emphasized the role of partnerships in ensuring success here at what has been dubbed a “procedures COP” and later, as the wrangling over climate change, and, more particularly, on climate finance, continues.

Up to this afternoon, discussions were still ongoing on long-term climate financing, even as countries speculate on the future of such funds from the United States, with businessman and climate sceptic Donald Trump set to replace Barack Obama in the White House.

“Bilaterlal relations are always important to sustain and support our multilateral spaces. Jamaica is to continue to ensure that we are well positioned in both. Our foreign policy certainly looks at strengthening partnerships with existing partners and we are also looking at strengthening relationships with non-traditional partners and new partners within the Hispano-phone countries, which are near to us, such as the Dominican Republic, stronger relations with Cuba, stronger relations with Panama and Mexico,” Johnson Smith noted.

Several Caribbean heads of state have made the effort to be present in Marrakech for this the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the first Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement. They included David Granger from Guyana, Allen Chastanet from Saint Lucia, Ralph Gonsalves from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Roosevelt Skerrit from Dominica, and Andrew Holness from Jamaica.

What is more, they came with some clear goals in mind.

“One of the reasons for me attending here is to be able to meet the other world leaders. Today (Tuesday, November 15) was a very successful day in that. I had a long talk with the Caribbean leaders who were here, including Saint Lucia. Prime Minister Chastanet and myself discussed the issue of the structure of the funding,” Holness said.

“There are various ideas about how we can access the funding. I think where there is an agreement is that countries like ourselves need to improve our capacity to write the projects, to gather the data, to analyse the data and to present a case to access the funding. There is also a great deal, I would say, of suspicion, disbelief that countries will actually get the resources and the magnitude of resources necessary and so there is usually some attempt to say ‘let’s go and negotiate bilaterally’,” he added.

Holness issued a caution in this while reflecting the position of minister Johnson Smith concerning unity in strength.

“I think staying together as a group, keeping the funding on an international agreement level is also beneficial. That does not stop you, of course, from negotiating bilaterally for assistance,” he said.

The Marrakech Climate Talks are to end officially today.

 

Join the energy conversation this month… CARICOM hosts webinar today

kw1
Details of the CARICOM Energy Forum set for Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. EST.

IT’S been a few months since last I wrote a blog; I’ve been going through one of these ‘blog block’ phases where inspiration is limited and time even more so. Alas, I’m back and in full effect — at least for the time being — and all for CARICOM Energy Month (CEM2016), which warrants our individual and collective attention, certainly in the region.

The starting point is today — Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. EST — when regional stakeholders will gather online for a webinar titled “Energy Pricing: My Fuel Cost”.

It is to feature a mix of presentations from across the region and discussions among international industry experts, as well as representatives from refineries, marketing and distribution companies and governments.

As the Caricom summary puts it “from gasoline to diesel, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas, fuels help to power our lives”. It is, therefore, a webinar for all who are interested in getting a handle on the cost of fuel and what they can do to influence the costs.

caribbean-art
A sample of artwork that placed second in the photo and art competition of last year’s Caricom Energy Week.

It is the first in a series of knowledge webinars being hosted by the CARICOM Secretariat in collaboration with Panos Caribbean and New Energy Events this month, to boost awareness of energy issues in the region and help people find their role in charting a way forward for Caribbean energy.

It is being done under the theme “Sustainable Energy for Sustainable Development” (#SE4SD). Nice, right? Well, in case you missed that last hint, #CEM2016 is important for a number of reasons:

  1. Energy is the new black. It is the subject of now, considerations and decisions about which have far-reaching implications for island economies in particular as well as to the global effort to fight climate change. Think emissions.
  2. Many Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, are burdened by an enormous energy bill which, if not tackled, could railroad any shot at sustainable development.
  3. The Caribbean as a whole utilises far more energy than is optimal to produce a single United States dollar of gross domestic product (GDP). CARICOM countries collectively use some 13,000 Btu of energy to produce one US dollar of GDP compared to 4,000 Btu of energy used by Japan, as one example. This is to produce the same one US dollar of GDP and the global average of 10,000 Btu.
  4. #CEM2016, as we are calling is about opportunities. So yes, there are some weighty issues with which we have to contend re energy, but there are opportunities that exist — including the chance to collaborate with each other to solve some of our energy woes.

So where does all this leave us? Joining the webinar today: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1491162446055247874

You can dial in using +1646-749-3129 (U.S.) with the Access Code: 489-491-389. 

More phone numbers:                                                                                                                      Canada +1 (647) 497-9350                                                                                                                        United Kingdom +44 (0) 330 221 0086

Meanwhile #CEM2016 is not only about the webinars. There are a series of other items on the agenda, including a photo and art competition and a regional news reporting competition, together with a number of local-level activities in countries.

Also, do feel free to keep on top of #CEM2016 by following Panos Caribbean on Instagram and @panoscaribbean on Twitter. You will also want to follow @CaricomEnergy on Twitter as well as on IG — and JOIN THE CONVERSATION.

More anon.

Related links:

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20161110/caricom-spotlights-energy-citizens-urged-support-efforts

http://www.panoscaribbean.org/panos-jamaica-updates/15-english/news-updates/jamaica-news/83-your-fuel-cost-and-you-caricom-energy-month-continues-with-knowledge-webinar

 

Jamaica’s new Cabinet raises eyebrows among environmentalists, but…

JAMAICA’S PM Andrew Holness caused more than a few raised eyebrows yesterday, with the exclusion of the environment and/or climate change from a named ministry in his Cabinet.

And a variety of stakeholders have commented.

Independent blogger and social media activist Emma Lewis said: “I am appalled at the lack of an environment portfolio. I can only assume that this was an oversight on the part of the Prime Minister”.

“Did he simply forget?” she questioned.

 

Emma
Emma Lewis

“Understandably, there is major and important emphasis on economic growth in the new Cabinet. I understand the three Ministers without Portfolio in the OPM are all charged with ensuring economic growth. This signals to me, in the words of the last environment minister: ‘The economy outweighs all other considerations’. What about sustainable development. What about climate change?” Lewis noted further.

Meanwhile, as reflected in a Gleaner piece I did, published today, other civil society actors working in the environment were equal parts shocked and dismayed even as they hold to the hope that clarification will come — one that reflects some careful thought having been given to the environment, to include water and climate change.

“I don’t think this first signal is a very positive one. It used to be that the environment portfolio moved around from ministry to ministry. Now it would it seem to have disappeared entirely,” JET boss Diana McCaulay has commented.

For his part, head of the Southern Trelawny Environment Agency Hugh Dixon said: “I think with growth and prosperity being the sort of thrust of the new government, it seems to be an awful oversight as the issues that are at the forefront of development are predicated to a great extent on an awareness and sensitivity to [for example] climate change.”

Hugh Dixon
Hugh Dixon (Photo contributed)

“I would, with caution, say that I hope that wherever it has been dispensed to, it holds some order of priority consistent with its current standing globally and any sort of growth and development agenda,” Dixon added.

In the wake of their comments, the PM today released a statement indicating that the environment portfolio is now under his office.

“Prime Minister Andrew Holness is pleased to advise that the environment portfolio is situated within the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM),” said the statement from his office.

“The Prime Minister has always expressed a keen interest in the environment and considers good and responsible environmental management and planning as critical to facilitating economic growth and sustainable development,” it added.

And locating the portfolio in his office, he promised, bodes well for the priority the issues are to be given.

“The Prime Minister has taken a proactive role where environmental management and climate change mitigation efforts are concerned by situating this important portfolio in his office. With the environment portfolio in the OPM, it will benefit from effective planning and coordination of government activities and ensuing synergies in the land, water and housing portfolios which are also situated in that office,” the statement said.

 

 

 

 

 

Green living & the Paris Climate Talks

Energy station
COP21 participants cycle to recharge their batteries. (Photo: Petre Williams-Raynor)

From free rides in electric cars to stations that allow participants to cycle in order to recharge their batteries, the Paris climate talks have offered options to ‘live green’.

“It is young, but it must be the future,” said Lorent Darrigarand of the electric car, the Renault ZOE.

He is the driver one of the Renault ZOE fleet of motocars made freely available to participants for transport to and from their hotels.

According to Darrigarand, it cost only 2 Euros to park and fill up on gas for the electric car in Paris, while it would cost 5 Euros to park a gas car in the city — on top of the cost for petrol.

The car, he said, runs about 140 kilometres before needing a refill — perfect for going to and from work within city limits.

It also handles well, with an easy pick-up and virtually noise-free engine.

The ZOE can be purchased for about 15,000 Euros, Darrigarand revealed in a conversation with the Gleaner.

But it has not stopped there at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) that constitutes the talks, where paper and cardboard are materials that make up chairs on show at one booth.

At the same time, welcome bags — some red, others green — and sections of the venue are made from repurposed material.

There are, too, several sorting bins — labeled with the message ‘Give value to your waste’ — that allow easy and appropriate separation of plastics from paper and organic items.

Bin
One of the sorting bins at COP21 which encourages “give value to your waste’. (Photo: Petre Williams-Raynor)

In addition, in buying a warm beverage from Alto Café, participants pay forward a Euro — on top of the cost of the drink — for the ‘Eco Cup’ in which it is served. Should participants return the cup, they are reimbursed the Euro.

Eco Cup
The Eco Cup that earns its holder one Euro back of money spent for a warm beverage. (Photo: Petre Williams-Raynor)

“It’s encouraging to see that the organisers are doing as we would say in Jamaica, ‘dance a yaad before you dance abroad’,” said journalist Desmond Brown, who has been covering the talks.

“The steps I see being taken here, though small, tell me the organisers are not only talking the talk about saving the earth, they are walking the walk,” he added.

Together, the efforts count toward making the negotiations climate neutral “by measuring and reducing the carbon footprint” of participants who have flown from across the globe to be present.

 

Hefty speed bumps to landing zone at Paris Climate Talks

Youths protest_COP21
Youths hold protest at Paris Climate Talks.

With just over 24 hours to go before the official end to the Paris climate talks, it is unclear how parties will reach consensus in order to ensure an outcome document with teeth and which assures security for the Caribbean, as others most vulnerable to climate change.

At a just-concluded press conference of negotiators from China, EU, and the G77 — put on by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and where Caribbean journalists supported by the ‘1.5 To Stay Alive’ campaign were represented — they said all the right words about optimism and needing to get to an outcome document that packed a punch.

But what also rang through is that getting there — if, in fact, we do — will be a climb. For one thing, there are parties that seem unwilling to make trade-offs, which for some — including the Caribbean and other small island states — may, in fact, be ill-advised.

Take the reported twinning of the 1.5 degrees Celsius ambition and loss and damage, for example. The Caribbean and their counterparts in the Alliance of Small Island States require a 1.5 degrees Celsius cap in increases in global temperatures, given the potential fallout — from biodiversity extinction due to rising sea levels and sea surface temperatures, etc. to the proliferation of diseases like dengue due to rising temperatures; and economic and social losses, given that most industries and key assets are sited along the coast.

Yet, earlier this week, the US is reported to have indicated a need to have compensation and liabilities excluded from loss and damage with a precise proposal on the language. In exchange, it was rumoured they would get behind the 1.5 ambition.

James Fletcher
Senator James Fletcher. (Photo: Petre Williams-Raynor)

“What I can tell you is that of now, I know G77 [which includes the AOSIS membership] has rejected the exclusion clause that was posed by the US to exclude liability and compensation. That was our negotiating position the last time I heard,” Dr. James Fletcher, head of the CARICOM Task Force on Climate Change said Wednesday, following the release of an updated draft text.

“I know G77 will be meeting at 6 or 7 o clock. Maybe then there might be a shifting of positions but, as of now, our position is that we do not agree to an exclusion clause for compensation and liabilities because of what it means, not just for loss and damage, but what it means for the agreement itself. And the advice we have from our legal people is that that would be a dangerous thing to do in the formulation that has been proposed by the US. That is and remains our position,” he added at the time.

It is important to note that since that time, negotiators have been locked in a series of meetings — until 5:30 am this morning (Thursday) and then again since then.

It does make well the point though. If there is to be no trade off, then how are parties to get to a final outcome document?

Among other issues in contention is the inclusion of human rights in the text, given concerns that national constituencies could likely bring lawsuits against their governments for the climate change impacts they suffer personally.

One example that has been used is the recent case of drought in Jamaica, where hundreds were denied access to water for weeks. The UN General Assembly explicitly recognises the right to water and sanitation. And this is perhaps the least of it.

There is contention, too, over finance — ‘additional, adequate and predictable’ quantities of which Caribbean islands, again as others most vulnerable to climate change impacts, are calling for.

Of course, finance, as Dr. Mariama Williams of the South Centre has indicated, is usually one of the last things to be negotiated since it is contingent on most, if not everything else on the table for negotiations.

This brings us back to the essential question: If there is to be no trade offs, how is the world to get to a final agreement? And if there are to be tradeoffs, what is to be bartered?

 

Caribbean stays the course on ‘1.5 To Stay Alive’

 

1point5_Gladding
The painting done by Jonathan Gladding as a contribution to the ‘1.5 To Stay Alive’ campaign of the Caribbean. (Photo: Contributed)

 

THE Caribbean is intent on securing a 1.5 degrees Celsius target as a cap in global temperature increases, with the start of the 2015 international climate talks in Paris.

The region’s position was repeated in the speeches of a number of presenters on this the opening day of the global negotiations — reflecting the statements of Dr. James Fletcher, chair of the CARICOM Task Force on Climate Change last week.

“The conversation has been about two degrees Celsius. And we have said, ‘two degrees cannot work for us’. With two degrees Celsius, we will have major ecosystem collapse in many of our countries,” he said.

James Fletcher
Senator James Fletcher. (Photo: Petre Williams-Raynor)

Fletcher, also Saint Lucia’s minister of sustainable development, energy, science and technology, was speaking at the announcement of the winner of that island’s ‘Media Climate Change Challenge’ — won by journalist Alison Kentish of Helen Television System — on November 26.

“You will have extinction of some of the biodiversity that is so rich — both marine and terrestrial biodiversity — that makes us who we are. Two degrees Celsius will unleash major diseases on us, will cause our coastal defences to be majorly challenged,” added Fletcher, who is also Saint Lucia’s minister of sustainable development, energy, science, and technology.

According to the minister, patron of the ‘1.5 To Stay Alive’ campaign, launched in October to bolster the Caribbean’s efforts in Paris, “It has to be 1.5 degrees Celsius”.

“Now, there is a cynicism among developed countries who say ‘two degrees, 1.5, 2.5, what is the big deal? It is just numbers’. And we keep saying to them, it is not just numbers; we have to leave Paris with an agreement that recognises 1.5 as a threshold for small island developing states like ours,” he said.

1.5 profile pic
A profile shot created under the ‘1.5 To Stay Alive’ campaign for use by all interested stakeholders.

Since its October launch, the ‘1.5 To Stay Alive’ campaign has gained momentum, with the implementation of a range of activities — from the launch of its Facebook page (www.1point5.info) and Twitter account (@1point5OK) that have attracted hundreds of followers to the ‘1.5 Selfie Video’ challenge (http://www.1point5.info/actscentral).

These are in addition to a range of creative outputs from artists, including Jonathan Guy-Gladding, out of Saint Lucia, who has done a painting titled ‘1.5 To Stay Alive’. A number of artistes have also been producing songs on the issue  all of which can be found at eh website — www.1point5.info.

Meanwhile, it remains any — and everyone’s guess really — whether, in fact, the region will realise its goal given the level of greenhouse gas emission cuts that countries the world over would have to make to reach such a target.

Still, Caribbean islands are tenacious and appear ready to do battle in order to ensure what they consider the survival of the region and the Caribbean way of life.

 

 

Miami conference could offer answers to Jamaica’s water woes

THE Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) Conference and Exhibition in Miami could offer up solutions to Jamaica’s prevailing water woes.

“This CWWA is coming at a very crucial time and serves as a great opportunity for exchanging experiences, learning of new and more appropriate water and wastewater management technologies and options, and fostering new partnerships among private sector, donors, intergovernmental agencies, academia, NGOs, youth groups, utilities, and the public sector,” said Christopher Corbin, programme officer for

assessment and management of environmental pollution and officer in charge of communication, education, training and awareness at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit.

UNEP is a partner in the conference.

“It also offers, through the Ministerial HLF (High Level Forum), an opportunity to raise these issues at the highest political level (CARICOM) and to explore how linking to climate change can help further the water and sustainable development agenda in the region as we lead up to the next Climate Change COP (Conference of the Parties),” he added.

The conference, which kicked off Monday, is being held under the theme “Improving the Quality of Life with Water and Waste Management Solutions” at the InterContinental Hotel.

Among the issues being explored is wastewater as a resource. To inform those discussions, the Global Environment Facility-funded Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management (GEF CReW) project held a regional “Resource Valuation Workshop’ on the fringe of the conference this past weekend.

The workshop was intended to share experiences from the development and application of a resource valuation methodology for use in wastewater management planning based on case studies in Trinidad & Tobago and Panama.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) conducted the studies in collaboration with local agencies.

Chris Corbin of UNEP (Photo: Contributed)
Chris Corbin of UNEP (Photo: Contributed)

“Coastal ecosystem valuation has contributed to better-informed and more holistic decision-making about resource use, has helped in the justification of policies and investments that protect coastal ecosystems or promote their sustainable use, and has helped with the identification of sources of finance for coastal conservation,” noted a UNEP release.

“WRI proposed a valuation methodology based on typical economic analyses used by infrastructure decision-makers, but tailored for water resource managers and updated to consider ecological and health co-benefits from wastewater treatment. The valuation methodology used is a cost-benefit analysis, which evaluates the marginal improvements to ecosystem and human health as a result of improved wastewater management, and compares these with marginal costs,” it added.

Wastewater, a valuable resource for Jamaica. (Photo: Contributed)
Wastewater, a valuable resource for Jamaica. (Photo: Contributed)

Among other things, the studies aim to improve local and national capacity for wastewater management, in line with project objectives to:

  • identify infrastructure investment options for wastewater management, for both green and grey infrastructure;
  • value costs and benefits of possible wastewater management options, including both direct and indirect benefits; and
  • develop a greater understanding and capacity for valuing coastal ecosystems and wastewater management options and improving regional understanding of the connection between wastewater treatment and coastal ecosystems.

Meanwhile, Jamaica has set itself a target for the use of wastewater, as reflected in the new draft Water Sector Policy and Implementation Plan. The plan, states: “The Government encourages the re-use of treated wastewater where it is safe and economical. Wastewater that is properly treated at sewage treatment plants may be safe for activities such as irrigation and some industrial processes.”

“Over the longer term and something we definitely have to give more consideration to is reusing treated water for irrigation purposes and that would free up more of the freshwater that currently goes to irrigation for domestic purposes,” said Colonel Oral Khan, chief technical director in the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change.

The island has been hard hit by unusually low levels of rainfall, which have prompted water lock-offs by the National Water Commission.

 

Jamaica’s Cockpit Country back on the front burner

A section of the Cockpit Country (File photo)
A section of the Cockpit Country (File photo)

Last week in the news, there was much talk about Jamaica’s Cockpit Country and the threat of bauxite mining in the area — a matter that has remained unresolved for too long.

Civil society stakeholders — among them the late, great journalist and environmental advocate John Maxwell — have, as far back as seven years ago, called on Government to declare a boundary for the Cockpit Country — which teems with life from an abundance of flora and fauna while providing some 40 per cent of the Jamaican population with freshwater, among other things.

This, so as to inform any development, if any, within the area, once officially designated. Government, in turn — recognising the value of the Cockpit Country — gave the undertaking not to allow any mining in the area, pending the designation.

But last week a civil society actor in the person of Mike Schwartz, head of the Windsor Research Centre, caught on camera some activity indicating that mining was underway in the area or would be in short order.

His organisation, in tandem with the Jamaica Environment Trust, issued a press release (see full text below) denouncing Government for secretly trying to begin mining in the area.

Other stakeholders are in full agreement, noting that no one is truly served by the failure to designate a boundary.

Hugh Dixon (Photo contributed)
Hugh Dixon (Photo contributed)

“It is a classic case of state deception… But as I had suspected long ago, they have been pussyfooting around this issue of declaring the boundary because they literally want to get into the Cockpit Country before there is any clear demarcation,” said Hugh Dixon, head of the Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency.

“…The outcome is that we will all feel the consequences of the error of our poor government ways,” he added.

Meanwhile, it is unclear whether, in fact, the company — Norando Bauxite — is mining or preparing to mining. However, whatever they are doing, they are legally permitted to do so, as reflected in their own press release on the matter (see full text below).

To get caught up on developments with this story, here are a few links:

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20150520/cockpit-country-stakeholders-brace-resist-mining#.VV0WCUKLKyg.twitter

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Ministry-calls-off-press-conference-on-Cockpit-Country_18982094

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cockpit-Incursion-_18971087

WINDSOR PRESS RELEASE

Issued: Monday, May 18th, 2015

Headline: NORANDA INVADES COCKPIT COUNTRY: 

Windsor Research Centre (WRC), which is located five kilometers inside Cockpit Country, is appalled to discover that Noranda Bauxite Ltd has invaded Cockpit Country. 

“No Mining in Cockpit Country”!  That is what the public has been saying since 2006 and it is what Government of Jamaica (GoJ) has been promising us.  But… within the last two weeks, Noranda has crossed the Cockpit Country boundary with a Haul Road in preparation for mining.  How can this be?

 Here is what we know so far:

  • This breach is taking place right now, near Bryan Castle in St Ann at the Madras / Caledonia crossroad.  We observed it yesterday (17th May 2015) and took photographs (see attached).
  • Noranda has a Special Mining Lease (SML) # 165 inherited from St Ann Bauxite Ltd and dated October 2004. This allows them to mine up to the eastern boundary of Cockpit Country (see attached map) and it is valid until 2030.
  • The new Haul Road is outside the SML 165 and is penetrating so-called “Special Reserves”, which are inside Cockpit Country. According to SML 165, these reserves are to be used only if it turns out that there is less bauxite than predicted within the said SML.  In this case the Minister must grant the Lessee a new SML.

We therefore ask GoJ to clarify the basis upon which they are allowing Noranda to mine the Special Reserves. 

  • Is the bauxite in SML 165 finished?
  • If so, how could it be that the bauxite in SML 165 is already finished after only 10 years out of a 26-year Lease?
  • Was a new Special Mining Lease issued? 
  • If so, what account was taken of the importance of the Cockpit Country’s natural and cultural heritage and the still unresolved issue of the boundary?
  • Was an Environmental Permit requested or obtained?
  • Was an Environmental Impact Assessment carried out?

WRC calls upon GoJ to refer to its own study, “Public Consultations on Defining The Boundaries of Cockpit Country” which was commissioned from University of the West Indies (UWI) and published in 2013; we call upon the Minister of Land Water Environment and Climate Change, the Hon. Robert Pickersgill, to declare the boundaries of Cockpit Country, as recommended by the Public Consultations and we ask that Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, the Hon. Phillip Paulwell, close Cockpit Country to mining in line with GoJ’s assurances.

– END –

ORANDO PRESS RELEASE

Issued: May 19, 2015

Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners has not conducted mining operations outside of St. Ann or outside of areas authorized by the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) and the Commissioner of Mines.

The company has received all necessary permits for the area that we are mining. Other areas may require different permits, but Noranda has not conducted mining operations in those areas.

Noranda has and continues to comply fully with its agreements with and authorisations from the Government of Jamaica, the Commissioner of Mines, and the JBI.

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