The Government has pledged its support on the issues of climate change, with the aim of sending an urgent message that climate change is a serious concern to the country’s sustainable development.
Speaking at a symposium for climate change, held at the University of the West Indies Law Faculty, on April 4, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, emphasised that the effects of climate change may threaten the country’s economy, health, agriculture and natural resources.
“We must make it our business to take the climate change considerations into account as we make our decisions, recognising not only our vulnerabilities, but that we all must play a role in protecting and preserving our nation’s assets, and our individual and collective livelihoods,” Mr. Pickersgill said.
He explained that in keeping with the administration’s commitment, a Climate Change Department is to be established, and that the Ministry is now in the process of setting up a Climate Change Advisory Committee.
The Minister also noted that the Government was committed to implementing ‘no regrets’ mitigation measures, such as demand side management in electricity production, and using alternative energy sources, including solar, wind, hydropower, and bio fuels, to produce energy.
In the meantime, the Environment Minister, while welcoming the interest in environmental law, emphasised that this must be used to change behaviour and attitudes to the environment.
“As we move towards natural resource valuation and requirements for environmental performance bonds as a means of protecting the environment and involvement in carbon trading, we may see more calls for environmental lawyers,” Mr. Pickersgill said.
He added that there are clear issues that require a platform for serious, intensive, aggressive advocacy on the international stage, and that there is a growing body of multilateral environmental agreements, which will require legal as well as technical expertise.
“However, we need greater representation in regional and international negotiations as well as the development of legislation for the implementation of the agreements. We would like to be able to engage you in some of our reviews and discussions of environmental issues and my office will be following up on this,” Mr. Pickersgill told the law students.
According to the recent Bridging the Gap Report, global emissions are likely to be around 55 billion tonnes per year by 2020. A further reduction of 6 to 11 billion tonnes per year of greenhouse gas emissions is required to achieve a warming of below 2 degrees Celsius.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter