Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 14th 2015 Contents BG18 REGIONAL
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MAY 2015 • WEEK TWO
Caribbean leaders on Sat-
urday further advanced
their policy position on
climate change ahead of
the 21st Conference of
Parties, also known as
COP 21, scheduled for
Paris during November
and December of this year.
The position of the Caribbean Community
(Caricom) 14 independent countries, was put
forward by the group s chairman, Bahamas
Prime Minister Perry Christie, during a meeting
here with French President François Hollande.
"The evidence of the impact of climate
change within our region is very evident.
Grenada saw a 300 per cent loss of GDP (gross
domestic product) as a result of one storm,"
Christie told IPS.
"We see across Caricom an average of two
to five per cent loss of growth due to hurricanes
and tropical process which occur annually.
"For the Bahamas, which has 80 per cent
of its land mass within one metre of mean
sea level, climate change is an existential threat
to our land mass. Indeed, that is the story
across the region. And as I have said from
place to place, if the sea level rises some five
feet in the Bahamas, 80 per cent of the
Bahamas as we know it will disappear. The
stark reality of that means, we are here to talk
about survival," Christie added.
The Caribbean Community comprises the
Bahamas, Belize, Barbados, Guyana, Haiti,
Jamaica, Suriname, T&T and the member
states of the Eastern Caribbean Currency
Union: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica,
Grenada, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia and St Vin-
cent and the Grenadines.
Saturday s summit gathered more than 40
heads of state, governments and Caribbean
organisations to discuss the impact of climate
change on the nations of the region.
The president of the Regional Council of
Martinique, Serge Letchimy, said the summit
goal is to give a voice to Caribbean nations
on climate change through a joint statement,
to be called "The Martinique Appeal", to be
heard at COP 21.
"Caribbean Climate 2015 is a push," said
Letchimy, "to vigorously encourage the inter-
national community to reach an agreement
at COP21 to keep global warming below 2
degrees C. This is a crucial goal for Caribbean
island nations that are particularly vulnerable
to climate change and which only contribute
0.3 per cent of global greenhouse emissions."
Letchimy said Martinique is addressing the
climate issue by aggressively implementing
the Climate, Air and Energy Master Plan devel-
oped in cooperation with the French govern-
In order to promote a more circular economy
that consumes less non-renewable resources,
the Regional Council of Martinique has also
decided to go beyond the Master Plan with
a programme called "Martinique -- Sustainable
Island." The goal is to achieve a 100 per cent
renewable energy mix by 2030.
Dominica s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit
said climate change is having a huge impact
on the environment of his country, which in
turn impacts on agriculture and the country s
"As you know we promote heavily eco-
tourism, and if action is not taken by the inter-
national community to halt greenhouse gas
emissions we re going to have a serious chal-
lenge," Skerrit told IPS.
"We re a coastal country and as the years
go by you are seeing an erosion of the coastal
landscape. You have a lot of degradation taking
place. That has resulted in us spending tremen-
dous sums of money to mitigate against that.
"Clearly, small countries like Dominica, and
indeed the entire OECS do not have the kind
of resources required to mitigate against climate
change. We are the least contributors but we
are the most affected," Skerrit explained.
He said that out of this summit, Caribbean
countries are hoping for a partnership with
France to drum up support for the concerns
of small island states like those in the OECS.
For the director general of the OECS, Dr
Didicus Jules, the impacts of climate change
can be seen everywhere across the region,
ranging from the rapid onslaught events like
floods in St Lucia, to the severity of hurricanes
and erosion of beaches.
"It s beginning to pose a huge threat as we
saw in the case of St. Vincent and the
Grenadines. The last event there, the damage
was equivalent of about more than 20 per
cent of their GDP," he told IPS.
"So just a simple event can set us back so
drastically and that is why the member states
are so concerned because these events have
all kinds of downstream impacts on the econ-
omy, not just the damage and loss caused by
the events themselves."
The trough on December 24, 2013 brought
torrential rains, death and destruction not only
to St Vincent and the Grenadines but to St
Lucia and Dominica as well.
In the last three years, St Vincent and the
Grenadines has been forced to spend more
than $600 million to rebuild its battered infra-
structure. Landslides in April 2011, followed
by the December 2013 floods left 13 people
Jules said today s meeting is unprecedented
because France will be the chair of the COP
meeting in Paris and it is perhaps the largest
international event that the French president
himself will personally chair.
COP21 will seek a new international agree-
ment on the climate with the aim of keeping
global warming below 2 degrees C. France and
the European Union will play key roles in
securing a consensus by the United Nations
in these critical climate negotiations.
"He (President Hollande) wants this to be
a success and use the opportunity to champion
the voices of small island states given the
French Republic s presence in the OECS we
felt that it was really a useful forum for having
the voice of the Caribbean in this wider sense
heard," Jules said.
"That s one of the reasons that we are now
pressing hard with the French authorities to
champion the cause of small island states so
that the larger countries, those who are the
biggest causes of the impacts on the environ-
ment take heed to what the scientists are say-
The Caricom chairman said a satisfactory
and binding agreement in Paris must include
five essential elements.
These are, clarity on ambitious targets for
developed countries, including a long-term
goal for significant emission reductions; clarity
on the adaptation measures and resources
required to facilitate and enhance the sustain-
able development plans and programmes in
small developing countries and thereby sig-
nificantly reduce the level of poverty in these
countries; and clarity on measures and mech-
anisms to address the development challenges
associated with climate change, sea level rise
and loss and damage for small island and low-
lying coastal developing states.
Christie said it must also include clarity on
how the financial and technological support
both for mitigation and adaptation will be
generated and disbursed to small developing
"Further, it must be recognised that the
existing widespread practice of using Gross
Domestic Product per capita as the primary
basis for access to resources simply does not
address the reality of the vulnerability of our
countries," he said.
Region looks to
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