“For Us In the Caribbean, Climate Change Is An Existential Issue”

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By the Caribbean Journal staff

Climate change poses a “clear, present and potent threat to our survival,” St Lucia’s Minister for Public Service, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, Dr James Fletcher.

The Minister, who was speaking to the opening of the Inaugural Meeting of the Regional Coordinating Committee on Climate Change, said “for us in the CAribbean, climate change is an existential issue.”

“While for other countries it may still be an abstract, academic or esoteric concept, for us it is a matter of life and death,” he said. “Unfortunately, due to our geography and socio-economic circumstances, we will bear the brunt of the impacts caused by sea-level rise, intensified droughts and hurricanes, elevated daily temperatures, coral bleaching and ocean acidification, among others.”

The new committee will coordinate strategic direction for driving “transformational change at the regional level,” said Fletcher, the new chair of the committee.

Part of that process will involve improving communication, Fletcher said.

“Despite the volumes of data published on Climate Change and its impacts on Small Island Developing States, the subject is still not one that is at the forefront of the thinking and actions of the people of the Caribbean,” he said. “Conveniently, when a devastating storm or hurricane strikes one of our islands we reference climate change and speak of how these phenomena will become more frequent and severe with a warmer climate, but outside of that very little is said.”

And, the Minister said, the window for meaningful action was closing.

“It is time for this regional coordinating committee to get to work,” he said.

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