VI Represented At UN Climate Change Conference – COP28

Premier and Minister responsible for Climate Change, Honourable Dr. Natalio Wheatley is leading a three member delegation to the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Dubai.

The COP is an annual event where countries that are party to the UNFCCC review and agree joint efforts to limit the extent of climate change and to support the most impacted and vulnerable countries, like small island developing states, adapt to impacts.

The Premier’s delegation includes Minister for Health and Social Development, Honourable Vincent Wheatley; Climate Change officer in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate Change Ms. Angela Burnett Penn and the Acting United Kingdom/European Union Representative Ms. Tracy Bradshaw.

The Premier and his team will join delegates from other overseas territories and countries around the world to participate in the meeting which is being held from November 30 to December 12. The commitments made at this year’s COP will be key to determining whether the world can still achieve the critical target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, widely recognised as the boundary of change small islands can survive.

The Virgin Islands delegation will have an opportunity to discuss its priority climate change issues and concerns with the United Kingdom delegation for representation during the conference negotiations. Key among these is the VI and other Overseas Territories (OTs) being formally recognised under the Convention to pave a path to allow access to international climate finance to support local efforts to build resilience to climate change impacts and transition to renewable energy.

Premier Wheatley accompanied by ministers/premiers from all other British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean, will be the lead panelist at a side event to be hosted by the Virgin Islands at COP28 through the CARICOM pavilion in collaboration with the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission. The event will explore the case for OTs accessing international climate finance in the context of being members/associate members of the OECS and CARICOM.

In addition, the VI delegation will participate in a number of bilateral meetings and be present at side events and showcase multimedia products to attract first international donors to the Virgin Islands Climate Change Trust Fund. The delegation will also seek investment in renewable energy initiatives and explore opportunities for the Territory to engage in the international carbon credits market.

Among the climate change impacts already plaguing the Virgin Islands and wider Caribbean are rising temperatures and heat waves, coral bleaching, stronger hurricanes, more frequent and severe floods and droughts, mass sargassum blooms and coastal erosions. Adaptation to climate change will, among other things, require large-scale investment to enhance environmental protection, restore ecosystems and build climate-resilient infrastructure, facilities and communities.

Meanwhile, the Government of the Virgin Islands is taking steps to increase the Territory’s resilience to the impacts of climate change and reduce its carbon footprint

through updating and implementing the Virgin Islands Climate Change Adaptation Policy and working towards the initial target of replacing 30% of the national electricity supply with renewable energy.

Earlier this year, Premier Wheatley in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) called for nations which are contributing heavily to greenhouse gas emissions to be as ambitious as possible in meeting targets to reverse the ill effects of climate change.

The Premier said at the time, “There is a need for world leaders to recognise climate change as an existential threat to the planet and, as such, keep the threat of climate change in proper perspective. The Caribbean is one of the regions of the world most vulnerable to climate change.”

The Government also continues work to operationalise The Virgin Islands Climate Change Trust Fund which was legally established in March 2015 as an independent entity with the mandate to raise, manage and on-grant donor funds to eligible actors to support climate change adaptation and mitigation in line with the Climate Change Policy.

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