Region must Act now to Address Climate Change – Peart


Minister of Local Government and Environment, Dean Peart has emphasized that with longer periods of drought and the prediction of more catastrophic hurricanes, the region must take action now to address the issue of climate change.
This, the Minister said, must be done through deeper international co-operation. Mr. Peart made the call today (February 5), at the opening of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Expert Meeting on Adaptation for Small Island Developing States (SIDS). This is Part I for the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean SIDS). The meeting, which will end on February 7, is being held at the Hilton Kingston Hotel. “In recent times, there seems to have been an increase in the number of stories in the news, both local and international, that feature extreme weather events.
Almost on a daily basis, there seems to be at least one story that describes a severe weather event happening that is of record proportions,” he said, citing the recent storms in Europe, as well as the extreme blizzards and tornados in the United States, and the prolonged droughts in Australia and Africa.
Further, the Minister pointed out, “we in the Caribbean know intimately of the damage that was done to several islands, including Jamaica, Haiti, Grenada and the Cayman Islands, during the very active hurricane season of 2005”.
While 2006 was an average year for hurricanes, the region was spared as most of the systems remained away from land and there were unfavourable conditions for hurricane development in the latter half of the season, caused by the El Nino phenomenon, the Minister noted.
He further pointed out that the economic implications of climate change underscored the importance of international co-operation in responding to this challenge, in particular that of adaptation in developing countries. Mr. Peart told the gathering that in light of this, Jamaica had for some time embarked on activities to protect its fragile coastline from the impacts of sea level rise, storm surges and coastal erosion. “My Ministry, in collaboration with the National Works Agency of the Ministry of Housing, Transport, Water and Works, is engaged in a project that will help to protect the Palisadoes Road, which is the road that connects the city to the Norman Manley International Airport and the historic town of Port Royal,” he informed. Mr. Peart highlighted the severe damage done to that strip of roadway in 2004 with the passage of Hurricane Ivan and informed that the project would establish protective dunes along the worst damaged stretch of the road.
“An accompanying project has been submitted to the Global Environment Facility, for funding through the Special Climate Change Fund. This will address the entire roadway and adjoining communities, such as Caribbean Terrace. It will identify the most suitable coastal adaptation technology to protect the shoreline and then prepare proposals for funding from the Adaptation Fund and other bilateral sources,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), Ambassador Bagher Asadi told the gathering of representatives for Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean SIDS that Jamaica, like other SIDS, faced the same vulnerability and challenges and has been endeavouring to rise to the challenge and respond to the threat emanating from climate change. This Expert Meeting is the third event on adaptation to be organized by the UNFCCC Secretariat in the context of (United Nations) Decision 1/CP.10. The Latin American and African regional workshop on adaptation were held last year, while the meeting for the Asian region will take place in Beijing in mid-April. In addition, the second part of the SIDS meeting for the Pacific and Indian Ocean will be held in the Cooke Islands at the end of February.
“In drafting the agenda for the meeting, suggestions from the SIDS, along with the mandate contained in Decision 1/CP10, have been taken into consideration. We should, in the course of our three-day exchange and discussion, do our utmost collectively and in a spirit of understanding and co-operation, to identify serious gaps and needs related to adaptation that SIDS face in confronting the peril of the climate change phenomenon,” Ambassador Asadi said.
He urged the participants to “be focused, action-oriented and practical in proposing policies and measures”.
The outcome of the meeting, along with those of the three regional workshops on adaptation will be submitted to and considered by the 25th session of SBI to be held in Bonn, Germany in May. These discussions will serve to initiate negotiations and follow-up action.

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