Jamaica Has Moral Imperative to Correct Environmental Abuses – Broderick


Minister of State in the Ministry of Energy, Mining and Telecommunications, Laurence Broderick, has said that Jamaica has a moral imperative to correct abuses to the environment, which ultimately contribute to global warming. “We need to avoid excessive use of fossil fuels, the main culprit that leads to excessive emissions of carbon dioxide,” Mr. Broderick said, as he addressed the launch of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2007/08 Human Development Report, at the Knustford Court Hotel earlier this week.
He said it is imperative that the country looks at alternatives such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), solar and hydro power, wind farms and the use of ethanol. “This is an area under serious consideration by this government and an encouraging sign is a scheme being devised by the National Housing Trust, which will afford benefits to customers, who seek to purchase solar panels,” he disclosed.
According to the State Minister, Jamaica has failed to properly address the issue of waste disposal, a matter, which he said, is integral to reducing levels of toxic and CO2 emissions. “Here in Jamaica, only 60 per cent of waste is collected. We should ask what happens to the next 40 per cent,” noting that “a little visit to your gullies, rivers and streams,” will help to provide the answer.
He asserted that the Riverton dump is a serious health hazard that the government will be addressing. “In the corporate area, the 60 per cent goes to the Riverton dump. We call it a landfill, but it certainly isn’t a landfill. At that dump, industrial waste is mixed with domestic waste.
“There is no sorting, the result being high emissions of toxins and CO2 at a higher level. Riverton dump creates a serious health hazard and research has shown that the high incidence of respiratory ailments affects the residents of adjoining communities. We have all those threats of dengue but the real culprit is the Riverton dump,” he argued. He noted further that “raw sewage enters our harbour and destroys everything in sight. This administration is concerned and is immediately taking steps to correct the situation. We recognize that landfills are not the answer. They are not safe for the environment. Technological advances have evolved into systems that allow for cleaner disposal of garbage.”
In the meantime, he said that Jamaica must take a serious look at climate change, noting that this phenomenon will impact the region’s water resources and costal zones, which will have a ripple effect on key sectors such as agriculture and tourism.
“Sea level rise will compound beach erosion and compound the damage. The value of all resources within the coastal zone will be adversely affected with a change in climate and a rise in sea level,” he stated. The resulting impact will be a “loss of income, loss of commercial and industrial structures and infrastructure, resulting in a detrimental impact on employment and the economy in general,” he explained.
The State Minister revealed that the cost to protect Jamaica from a one meter sea rise was estimated in 1990 by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to be US$462 million, which equals US$197 per person.
The solution, he said, lies in comprehensive adaptation strategies, which cut across sectors. He advised that in order to combat the impact of climate change on coastal zones, there must be a clear need for “advance planning to avoid worst impact, modification of land use, modification of building styles and codes and a withdrawal of government subsidies for developments in high risk areas.”
Mr. Broderick added that there also needs to be structured coral reef management. “We must ask our decision and policy makers to be sensitized on the importance of climate change and incorporate adaptation strategies into broader sustainable development. There is a need for cross sectoral consultation and more public awareness activities,” he stated while adding that there is also a clear need for ongoing research and additional technical expertise.

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