Monday, December 30, 2013

Caribbean needs help to combat climate change

Diane Abbot in the Jamaica Observer: Christmas 2013 was not a happy one for some parts of the Eastern Caribbean. The region was hit by extraordinarily heavy rains which caused massive floods and landslides. As a result, there was catastrophe everywhere. Eight people died in St Vincent and the Grenadines, dozens of families there were forced out of their homes, water and electricity were cut off in many places, and some people are still missing.

 ...The reason Jamaica is at such risk from climate change and rising seas is that the majority of Jamaica's hotel rooms are in coastal areas like Montego Bay, Negril and Ochos Rios. Altogether, 85 per cent of hotel rooms are found in these areas, 90 per cent of production is there and 25 per cent of the population lives there.

Climate change and rising sea levels are a long-term threat to resort areas, yachting, cruise ship infrastructure and coral reefs. Altogether, climate change threatens billions of pounds of economic activity in the region.

So, if climate change is such a serious threat, what can the region do? In terms of limiting the carbon emissions that reputedly create climate change, the Caribbean is very much in the hands of the big polluters like America and China. But the big industrial powers are reluctant to do much about climate change. And, in a recession, public opinion in America is much more concerned about growth and jobs than controlling carbon emissions.

However, Jamaica can consider what it can do to protect low-lying land and the tourist areas. This would include building methods. The problem is that planning for a changing climate requires thinking long-term and billions of pounds. But both of these are in short supply in Jamaica at the present time, when it is struggling with its immediate economic problems...

Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, shot by Poco a poco, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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