Head of Caricom climate change centre defends need for funds

CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) — The Deputy Director of the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), Dr Ulric Trotz has defended regional countries from criticisms that they are more interested in seeking financial assistance from the developed world when dealing with the impact of climate change.

“We can’t get away from the question of finance because we need to have finance,” he said, noting that “one of our problems is that we are poor, we know what to do”.

Trotz told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the region needed the finances to deal with issues like strengthening coastal defences, making airport and seaports less vulnerable to climate risks.

“But we don’t have the resources. Take a country like Holland, they are below sea level like Guyana, but they have invested in a one in a 1000-year flood event to protect Amsterdam and the coast of Holland from that type of event.

“We in the Caribbean don’t even have the resources to protect ourselves from a one in a 10-year event. So finances are important and this is one of the arguments that we have at the international level because we are saying “look, we are in a position now, you are facing a risk that is as a result of your lifestyle, your pattern of development; we are not responsible for this but being poor and living where we are we are very vulnerable to the impacts basically that results from that type of development which you have been enjoying for years”.

Trotz said that the Caribbean has always felt “there is a moral argument for the developed countries to provide us with financing to help us to deal with the impacts of climate change, a phenomena that is on us as a result of your developmental patterns.

“And so the question of finance is central to the entire argument and basically it is a key issue for us as we move forward to address climate change in the region”.

Trotz also acknowledged that the developed world has maintained its position regarding the climate change arguments despite the moral and other arguments from the region, telling CMC, the “other challenge that we have and this is the one we are trying to make, is to make a business case for responding to climate change.

“A business case for adaptation and for mitigation,” he said noting “we still have to depend on aid etc, but there are a lot of opportunities, for instance in the energy sector right now for the new business opportunities; basically it would result in a more sustainable energy sector and it is good business”.

He said this is the road being taken by the United States with President Obama “trying to preach to the American private sector that there are new business opportunities unfolding by addressing some of the risk we face with climate change.

“So we hope to be able to sell that as an opportunity now for our private sector to look at new investments and see how we can marry that opportunity with getting us on the road to what we should be doing to increase resilience in the Caribbean”.

Trotz said while he is aware that the new venture would be a challenge “but I don’t think we would have a choice”.

The CCCCC senior official said an examination of the disasters in the Caribbean would show the region suffers from weather-related events that would get worse in the future.

“So we should be dealing with our present day exposure to climate risk, and there is a lot of action that we should be taking. Yes we look at the destructive side of it but now under the discussions we are having internationally about dealing with climate change there are tremendous opportunities for the region to basically address several of our development issues.”