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Jamaica becomes first Caribbean nation to submit tougher climate plan to UN

Jamaica has become the first Caribbean nation to submit a tougher climate action plan under the Paris Agreement by adding targets for forestry and stepping up curbs on greenhouse gas emissions from energy.

The UK, which will host the next UN climate summit in November 2021, delayed from 2020 because of Covid-19, praised the move and urged other nations to follow suit as quickly as possible.

Worldwide, Jamaica is the 11th nation to submit an updated plan, or nationally determined contribution (NDC), at the five-year milestone of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“Jamaica’s new NDC is more ambitious than its previous one,” the Jamaican government said in a submission to the United Nations, outlining the new goals worked out despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The nation was at risk from more intense hurricanes, sea level rise and a drying trend across much of the island, it said.

The new goal marked an upgrade by addressing land use change and forestry emissions, and committing to deeper emission reductions in the energy sector, it said.

By 2030, it promised to reduce emissions in the two sectors by 25.4% below “business as usual” (BAU) levels, and by a deeper 28.5% if the country gets international support.

By 2030, emissions covered by the plan would fall by between 1.8 and 2.0 million tonnes of carbon dioxide relative to the projected BAU levels of 7.2 million tonnes, it said. That was more ambitious than a decline of 1.1 to 1.5 million tonnes under the original plan.

The NDC did not project Jamaica’s total emissions in 2030. The first NDC in 2015 projected that the nation’s emissions would rise to 14.5 million tonnes by 2030 under business as usual, from 13.4 million in 2025.

The NDC said Jamaica would work in future to widen the NDC to include all sectors in the economy. Forests cover more than half of the island.

“Fantastic to see Jamaica’s NDC showing greater climate ambition and scope during these difficult times,” Alok Sharma, the president of the Cop26 talks and UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, wrote in a tweet.

“We ask all countries to publish their own ambitious NDCs as soon as possible.”

However the UK itself risks missing the 2020 deadline in the Paris Agreement for submitting an updated NDC. A spokesperson said the government was committed to bringing forward a plan “well ahead of Cop26”.

The World Resources Institute think-tank says the 11 NDCs submitted so far account for just 2.9% of global emissions.

Jamaica’s NDC said Covid-19 had hit the nation hard, especially in its big tourism sector.

The pandemic “has also had a ripple effect on rural livelihoods which rely predominantly on the climate sensitive fisheries and agriculture sectors,” it said.

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