There is no doubt that Saint Lucia is Simply Beautiful. But are we aware that this island’s beauty, its way of life and that of its neighbours are threatened by particular challenges, climate change being perhaps the most important one?
Climate change is now the new buzz words of today, particularly amongst leaders of the various Caribbean islands. However, there seems to be an easing off or cooling down, if you please, of the tremendous strides made by those very same countries three years ago in bringing to the attention of the world the dangers posed by climate change and its impact on small developing countries like them.
Caribbean countries still talk the talk, which they did at last month’s Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM here in Saint Lucia, but the spark ignited by persons like Dr. Jimmy Fletcher and his team in 2016 in bringing the plight of small developing states to international focus, seems to have died.
We will not go into Dr. Fletcher and his team tremendous achievement on the world stage with the ‘1.5 To Stay Alive’ campaign at the CoP21 in Paris, France. Suffice to say the hope that was once generated in that we would be more climate conscious and be fully prepared for climate-related natural disasters seems to be ebbing.
We call on Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and the rest of his cabinet ministers to keep at sounding out loud the need to fight against climate disruption. As Chairman of CARICOM we call on him to keep the voices of the various Caribbean islands loud and clear in the various negotiating halls of the world on climate change.
Prime Minister Chastanet knows all too well that climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it.
Still etched in our minds are the devastation caused in the Caribbean, Saint Lucia included, by hurricanes, heavy rains, floods, earthquakes and the likes.
In the words of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who spoke at the opening of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM at Royalton “ the Caribbean experience makes abundantly clear that we must urgently reduce global emissions and work effectively to ensure that global temperature rise does not go beyond 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.”
According to the UN, Global emissions are reaching record levels and show no sign of peaking. The last four years were the four hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990. Sea levels are rising, coral reefs are dying, and we are starting to see the life-threatening impact of climate change on health, through air pollution, heatwaves and risks to food security.
The impacts of climate change are being felt everywhere and are having very real consequences on people’s lives. Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow. But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.
And hence comes our final call to Prime Minister Chastanet as Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of this fair country:
Sir, we know you recognize the Caribbean is on the frontlines in leading the charge against climate disruption and is the very first victim of this disruption. Therefore, we call on you to always infuse in your development policies for the country, guidelines that would make these policies climate resilient.
Saint Lucia is too beautiful a country to be destroyed by our unpreparedness to make it climate resilient. We encourage you to continue to address priority action areas that strengthen our resilience to climate change. Should this not be done our economy could perish after a visit from a climate-related natural disaster, which grows in severity and frequency year after year.