Caribbean Officials Outline Climate Change's Growing Threat to The Region
PHOTO: Caribbean destinations are especially vulnerable to climate change’s impacts, scientists warn. (Photo by Brian Major)
Travel-dependent Caribbean destinations are at the forefront of climate change, underscored by U.S. President Barack Obama’s meeting this week with regional government and tourism officials as part of this week’s COP 21 climate conference in Paris.
Obama met with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) during the gathering, a group including Freundel Stuart, prime minister of Barbados and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman, and Dr. Kenny Anthony, Saint Lucia’s prime minister.
Dr. James Fletcher, Saint Lucia’s minister of sustainable development and chairman CARICOM’s Task Force on Climate Change and Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM’s secretary general also attended the meeting with President Obama.
Anthony issued a dire warning at the gathering’s outset. “Unless we can get the countries that are the major emitters of greenhouse gases to commit to more ambitious reductions,” he said, “the Caribbean will be confronted with more extreme storms and hurricanes, more frequent and prolonged droughts, dangerous sea-level rise that will wash away roads, homes, hotels, and ports in every island; greater food insecurity and more acidic oceans that will kill our corals, damage our fish stock and negatively impact our tourism industries.”
The meeting was intended to highlight the countries’ role in the Paris negotiations, and their stake in strategies to halt climate change. U.S. government scientists and even financial analysts have warned that countries in regions including the Caribbean are especially vulnerable to climate change impacts.
AOSIS countries have been pushing for more ambitious action to stem greenhouse gas emissions at the Paris conference, according to regional media reports. Caribbean nations have additionally pressed for a legally binding agreement to emerge from COP21.
A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report indicates high levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases are causing the planet’s temperature to increase to dangerous levels. At the current levels, the planet is on track for an almost four degrees Celsius increase by the end of 2100.
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