Minister of Planning and Development Penelope Beckles has called for “transformational implementation.”
She made the call she delivered an address at the United Nations 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on Tuesday.
Beckles, who is leading T&T’s delegation at the climate change talks, used her address to the delegates at the conference to call for climate financing for affected small islands, while touting T&T’s progress towards renewable energy.
“This must be an implementation COP. Even while we enhance our ambition, it is important that we shift into transformational implementation. We must move beyond pledges to action,” Beckles told the conference.
She pointed to the “unprecedented rainfall” T&T experienced over the last month and the loss and damage incurred by many citizens as she made a case for funding for small island states.
She added, “This is not a time for lowering expectation or for lowest common denominator agreements, COP27 must deliver on the just demand from vulnerable countries for financing arrangements on loss and damage.”
Beckles sought to ramp up support for adaptation to protect vulnerable people and ecosystems on the frontline of the climate crisis.
“This COP must send a clear signal to people everywhere, especially the youth,” she said.
She addressed that the conference as COP27 marked the theme of energy yesterday. With its own carbon footprint a concern, the minister assured the international community that T&T is working towards a greener future, saying the country is undertaking “widespread policy reform” to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
“Step-by-step, we are creating the architecture that will guide us towards a just and equitable transition to a low carbon development pathway,” Beckles stated.
She assured the delegates before her that T&T remains committed to making progress on the loss and damage agenda.
Loss and damage funding has emerged as the key point of negotiations at the summit, with the issue finally becoming an agenda item after nearly three decades.
Beckles said the Government has committed to a further enhancement of renewable energy capacity to 30 per cent by 2030. This, she says, will form the basis of the revised Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the national approval process is expected to be completed shortly.
She confirmed T&T will submit its revised NDC before the end of this year.
The minister touted several public and private projects that are moving T&T toward more renewable sources of energy. She pointed out T&T is progressing on a green hydrogen facility that will be fully financed by the private sector.
She added, “At the national level, the country has developed inter alia, a national climate policy that will guide climate action which is being updated to include the Paris Agreement and the decisions taken in the implementation of those provisions.”
Beckles said T&T is on the verge of tripling its renewable energy capacity by 2030, following the installation of 112 megawatts of utility scale superpower, the largest in the Caribbean.
However, she was cautious in being overly optimistic about the transition, instead acknowledging that transitioning to a low-carbon development will be significant but challenging.
“T&T understands it is imperative and not a choice,” Beckles stated.
The minister also used the opportunity to talk about several initiatives underway by the T&T Government, including a carbon reduction strategy from which the NDC under the Paris Agreement was derived and a long-term strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with detailed inventories of greenhouse gas emissions and identified intervention measures to reduce these emissions. She also said a financial management reporting and verification system for greenhouse gas emissions will be managed by the Environmental Management Authority.
She hopes to take a cabinet note to soon formalise the system into a legislative framework to make greenhouse gas reporting and mitigation actions mandatory.
She admitted small island states like T&T will need assistance from the international community to transition.
“A lot has been done, but I admit, we need to go further. We cannot do this alone. We count on the support of the international community to help us further our national implementation efforts to tackle the climate crisis, in particular, we would welcome proposals from an international platform to assist countries in their just transition planning. Such a platform would be a useful forum for sharing experiences and lessons learned on these critical activities,” Beckles said.
Her statement mirrored that of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s in Glasgow last year for COP26, when he told the conference, “We have embarked upon ambitious plans to reduce emissions and build climate resilience, but we will need help.”
Negotiations continue at the conference throughout this week, where the minister has been part of several panel discussions on climate change and its effects on the Caribbean region, while she has also been involved in ministerial meetings at the negotiating level.
This story was originally published on the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, with the support of Climate Tracker’s COP27 Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship.