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Story Highlights

  • Minister Pickersgill says it is imperative that Jamaica takes steps now to address climate change, given the extreme weather events across the world.
  • He informed that the island’s mean annual temperature is projected to rise by 1.10 to 3.2 °C (33.98 – 37.76 °F ) by the 2090s.
  • In terms of rainfall predictions, most models project decreases, especially by the end of the century.

Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, says it is imperative that Jamaica takes steps now to address climate change, given the extreme weather events in many parts of the world, and the projections from the experts that these will increase or intensify.

“Adapting to climate change won’t be easy but it makes sense. Given the number of records being broken every year for temperature, rainfall, drought and tropical cyclones in many parts of the world, it is imperative that the necessary actions be taken, and quickly,” he stated.

The Minister was addressing the final of four island-wide public consultations on climate change, held on February 20 at the Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

Citing statistics from the ‘2012 State of the Jamaican Climate’ report, he informed that the island’s mean annual temperature is projected to rise by 1.10 to 3.2 °C (33.98 – 37.76 °F ) by the 2090s.  The range of increase is from 0.70 to 1.8 °C (33.26 – 35.24 °F) by the 2050s and from 1.0 to 3.0 °C by the 2080s.

In terms of rainfall predictions, he said that most models project decreases, especially by the end of the century, although there is some uncertainty.  Several recent studies have indicated that the frequency of storms may decrease, however the intensity of the hurricanes will increase with a doubling of the frequency of categories four and five storms.

The projection is that mass migration from low-lying areas and vulnerable islands will reach alarming proportions.

Minister Pickersgill said that people, who rely heavily on the environment, for example farmers and fisher folk, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as their livelihoods are often affected.  He noted however, that no sector can be considered safe, as all are at risk from the effects of the weather-related phenomenon.

Urging Jamaicans to heed the warnings, the Minister lamented that even after 30 years of climate change research there are still sceptics to the reality.

He is calling on young people to become the agents of change and have their voices heard on the issue.

“I believe that our young people, who will inherit the world, should be more involved in creating the future they want. It is imperative that they make their voices heard at the local, regional, and international levels. The local chapter for the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) holds a distinguished track record of youth-led environmental and sustainable development advocacy, and I want to encourage them to engage and involve more of our young people here in Jamaica,” he stated.

The forum attracted stakeholder partners and citizens, including tertiary and secondary level students, from Kingston, St. Thomas and St. Catherine.

They benefited from expert presentations on climate change, including information about the long-term projections for Jamaica.

The series of fora were used to sensitize Jamaicans about the Climate Change Policy Framework and Action Plan (Green Paper), which is to be used as a blueprint in developing sector specific plans to combat climate change.

The newly established Climate Change Division in the Ministry will spearhead coordination among implementing organisations and agencies in mitigating and adapting to climate change.