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Charles pledges to take climate-change war into schools – Jamaica Gleaner

Despite world leaders brokering a subpar agreement on global-warming targets at the COP26 summit, Jamaica’s Climate Change Minister Pearnel Charles Jr is optimistic about the island’s progress on its environmental mandate.

Weighing in on the Glasgow climate conference which ended just over a week ago, Charles acknowledged that he was “definitely not satisfied” that the major global warming benchmark of 1.5ºC was not achieved.

“The intention was to be able to ensure that the negotiation and the meetings moved us in the right trajectory and at the right pace. Unfortunately, we haven’t moved at the right pace, but we are definitely moving in the right direction,” he told The Gleaner following a tablet handover ceremony at Green Park Primary and Junior High in Clarendon last week.

The COP pact, which aims to mitigate the greenhouse emissions crisis and particularly target a reduction of coal, fell short in pledges to limit temperature rise to 1.5ºC.

Highlighting another plus from the summit, Charles said more money has also been allocated for developing nations to stave off the impacts of climate change.

Doubling financing for adaptation is important to countries such as Jamaica, the minister said.

“We were able to finally complete the Paris rulebook which speaks to transparency in Caribbean mechanisms, and we were able also to get the agreement to operationalise the Santiago network which relates to loss and damage,” said Charles, whose portfolio includes urban renewal and housing.

Prior to the conference, Charles said the pledges saw the world hurtling down a trajectory of 2.7ºC by the end of the century, a disastrous projection according to global consensus.

The adjusted commitments, he said, put warming at 1.8ºC – not where Charles thinks it should be but he quips, “less disastrous and keeping within reach the goal of 1.5ºC”.

“[The] 1.5ºC is not ideal, but it is something we can work with if enough financing and support is put into building our adaptation and our capacity to withstand the impact of climate change,” he said.

The Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal and Climate Change will also be rolling out an initiative dubbed ‘Renewed Jamaica’. He said it should have been implemented some time ago but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the process.

Describing it as a behaviour-change initiative, Charles said it would be geared at transitioning the environmental agenda from a national campaign into climate action in homes, schools, churches, and communities.

“We are targeting primary and secondary schools. It is a start, and at the same time there will be a lot of stakeholders with other government agencies to integrate activities into their operations to reflect climate resilience, to reflect climate protection and activities that are gonna advance climate action,” he said.

While he is optimistic that climate change could one day be incorporated into the curriculum, Charles said for now, Renewed Jamaica will take the form of competitions and fun events, with the expectation that students will see themselves as ambassadors and agents for change.

cecelia.livingston@gleanerjm.com

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