Posted: Friday, June 10, 2022. 11:24 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: President of the United States, Joe Biden, and his Vice-President, Kamala Harris, have met separately with leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to address their specific concerns with regard to the climate crisis and the challenges of rebuilding regional economies coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the opening of the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, Biden told his fellow leaders, in an echo of a famous line from John F. Kennedy: “And no longer is this a question of what will we do – what will the United States do for the Americas. The question is what we accomplish by working together as true partners with diverse capabilities but equal and mutual respect, recognizing both our individual sovereignty and our shared responsibilities.”
Recognizing that 22 million more residents of the Americas fell into poverty in the first year of the pandemic and the inequity gap continues to rise, Biden announced the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (APEP), which he said “builds on all the work we have done with the region and will guide our engagement going forward.”
On Thursday, Vice-President Harris announced the U.S.-CARICOM initiative known as the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) 2030, which she said “is the United States government’s primary mechanism for addressing energy security and the climate crisis in this region. Through this partnership, we will support energy infrastructure and climate resilient projects at every stage of development from beginning to end in 4 particular ways. First, we will work with you to identify new clean energy projects. Second, we will provide technical assistance to make sure these projects are viable and appealing not only to you but to investors. We will bring then investors to the Caribbean on roadshows to showcase the projects and fourth and finally, we will improve access and importantly we will improve access to development financing which will make these projects a reality.”
CARICOM Secretary-General Dr. Carla Barnett responded, “We are therefore pleased to have this conversation, we are aware that our own public sector fiscal constraints limit the extent to which our governments can finance and transition to renewable and therefore the undertaking to provide sources of financing that our private sector can access is really very important.”
We are told that the next step is setting up an “Actionable Committee” to look at energy security, food security and access to affordable financing.
Incumbent Chairman of CARICOM Heads of Government Prime Minister John Briceño outlined the basics of what the region is asking for in his speech to the plenary session of the Summit on Thursday evening: “Now is the time for actions that are focused on achieving a sustainable, resilient and equitable future for the hemisphere. Action must include equitable access to vaccines and treatment for COVID-19 to end the acute phase of the pandemic and a strengthened and sustainably financed global health architecture. Action must include the Paris 2030 delivery agenda. We demand firm plans from developed countries for emissions reduction targets in line with the 1.5-degree centigrade Paris temperature goal, a plan to scale up climate finance beyond the floor of the US$100 billion annually through to 2025, and doubling of adaptation finance. Action must include finalization and use of a multidimensional vulnerability index to determine access to grants and concessional development finance, so that countries like ours can affordably finance our recovery and build resiliently. Action must include debt relief. Action must include a coordinated, multilateral response to the deepening food and energy crises including financing and technology transfer to support the acceleration to renewable energy. Action must include finding peace in the Ukraine. Today Belize affirms the integral role of democratic governance. Let there be no doubt about our unshakeable commitment thereto. The confluence of crises of our times requires all the countries of the hemisphere to work together in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation.”
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