Contact: Darnley Lebourne
Friday, December 18, 2009 - Prime Minister Stephenson King on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 delivered a ten (10) minute address to the 15th Conference of Parties to the Conference on Climate Change and the 5th Meeting of the Parties of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol being held in Copenhagen, Denmark. The conference which brings together 119 Heads of States and Governments began on December 7th and is scheduled to conclude on December 18th, 2009. Prime Minister King’s address was presented in his capacity both as Prime Minister of Saint Lucia and as CARICOM's Lead Speaker on Sustainable Development.
During his address to the conference Prime Minister King promoted the position of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and CARICOM, which advocates for global greenhouse emissions to be limited to 1.5 degrees Centigrade. This position is captured through the slogan: “1.5 to Stay Alive”. In presenting the position of CARICOM as against that of others who promote a 2 degree Centigrade increase, Prime Minister King stated firmly that: “The lives of our people are not, and will never be negotiable, whatever the inducement”. Prime Minister King noted the vulnerability of Saint Lucia and the Caribbean to climate change by highlighting the findings of recent scientific studies, which point to projected temperature increases, decline in overall precipitation of 20-30 percent and increases in the frequency of category 4 and 5 hurricanes, which are expected to peak in the next decade. These projections also warn of the inundation of the land around 14 of 50 of our seaports, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people living on the coast, due to sea level rise.
Prime Minister King during his address extracted an experience of Saint Lucia to dramatise the prevailing concerns. He noted the unprecedented rise in sea surface temperatures in 2005, which resulted in the extensive “bleaching” of coral reefs. This impact he explained affected Saint Lucia’s vital tourism industry due to the fact that the island slipped from its ranking as one of the top four (4) top dive destinations in the world and is now cited below the top ten (10) destinations. Mr. King observed that this development has not only affected the vital tourism industry but also the livelihoods of many fishers and their families.
The Saint Lucian Prime Minister challenged world leaders gathered at the Climate Change Conference to avoid expediency and the temptation to “postpone or evade the responsibility and cost of tackling climate change”. Prime Minister King stated that it was imperative that world leaders seek to “erase the artificial lines of territorial sovereignty that we have drawn upon the surface of the planet” and to work towards a pack that would “collectively, equitably and effectively address climate change” and would be acceptable to billions of people around the world.
Prime Minister King urged the conference to overcome fear and to take a “leap of faith” by “breaking new ground” and arriving at the right decision. The Saint Lucian Prime Minister in summing up his address, presented the conference with the following quote for their reflection and guidance: “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is doing what you are afraid to do. It is having the power to let go of the familiar and forge ahead into new territory."
Saint Lucia’s delegation to the conference, which is headed by Prime Minister Stephenson King, includes:
- H.E. June Soomer - Ambassador to Caricom and the OECS.
- Mr. Chripin d’Auvergne - Chief Sustainable Development and
- Mrs. Alma Jean - Sustainable Development and Environment Officer.
- Ms. Judith Ephraim - Sustainable Development and Environment Officer.
- Mrs. Dawn P. Nathaniel - Sustainable Development and Environment Officer.
- Mr. Neil Oculi - Student.
Mr. Cletus Springer - Director, Department of Sustainable Development - OAS.
- Ms. Una May Gordon - IICA.
- Ms. Angela St. Denis - Youth (CYEN)
- Mr. Nintus Magre - Youth (CYEN)
The composition of the delegation reflected the deliberate wish of Prime Minister King to include persons who represent the youth sector of our society. There were three (3) persons out of the eleven (11) person delegation representing the youth who are the future stewards of the world’s environment.
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