The Deadly Impact of Climate Change on the Caribbean

December 1, .2015





This week sees the opening of the UN Climate Change Conference in Le Bourget, France with US President Barack Obama taking centre stage in seeking an agreement among 150 world leaders to reduce carbon emissions and roll back the tide of climate warming.

Today he meet with island nations including the Prime Ministers of St Lucia and Barbados to address the issue and said: “These countries aren’t the most populous or influential but they are among the most vulnerable to the ravages of climate change.”

A study by Ramon Bueno, Cornelia Herzfeld, Elizabeth A. Staton and Frank Ackerman, commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) entitled, “ The Caribbean and Climate Change: The Cost of Inaction,” paints a grim picture.

It points to the economic effects of climate change on the Caribbean region.

The three main areas are:

  • Hurricane damages
  • Loss of tourism revenue
  • Infrastructure damage due to sea-level rise.

What is clear is that the Caribbean contributes very little to the release of greenhouse gases but it will pay a heavy price if emissions are not reduced.

The key findings of the report are :

  • The cost of inaction will amount to 22 per cent of GDP for the Caribbean by 2100
  • The cost of inaction will reach 75 per cent or more of GDP by 2100 in Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, St Kitts& Nevis and Turks& Caicos
  • The Caribbean’s largest island, Cuba faces a nearly 13 per cent economic hit by mid century and a 27 per cent loss by 2100 unless there is swift action to address climate change.

Addressing the impact of climate change on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the Prime Minister of St Vincent, Ralph Gonsalves said: “ The threat is not abstract, it is not distant, it is immediate and it is real. And if this matter is the premier existential issue which faces us, it means that we have to take it more seriously and put it at the centre of our developmental efforts.

“The country which I have the honour to lead is a disaster-prone country. We need to adapt, strengthen our resilience, to mitigate, we need to reduce risks to human and natural assets resulting from climate change.

“This is an issue however, which we alone cannot address. The world is a small place  and we in the Caribbean contribute very little to global warming but yet we are in the frontlines of continuing disasters.”







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