Fri | Oct 20, 2017

Dominica PM issues passionate call for urgent action in addressing climate change

Published:Sunday | September 24, 2017 | 11:16 AM
Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

UNITED NATIONS, CMC – Declaring that he has come “straight from the front line of the war on climate change,” Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit yesterday called for urgent action in addressing the issue, as his country reels from the devastation caused earlier this week by Hurricane Maria.

“With physical and emotional difficulty, I have left my bleeding nation to be with you here today, because these are the moments for which the United Nations exists,” said Skerrit as he addressed the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly Debate.

“Mr President, my fellow leaders, there is no more time for conversation. There is little time left for action. While the big countries talk, the small island nations suffer. We need action, and we need it NOW!” he demanded.

“We in the Caribbean do not produce greenhouse gases or sulphate aerosols. We do not pollute or overfish our oceans. We have made no contribution to global warming that can move the needle. But yet, we are among the main victims – on the frontline.

“In the Commonwealth of Dominica, we have long pursued and respected an existence that preserves our Little Eden. The Mome Trois Pitons has been a national park for 40 years and a UNESCO World Heritage Site for 20,” he added.

“Our livelihoods are part of our ecosystem. This is how my people and my country earn and survive.

But what is our reality at this moment? Pure devastation, as Dominicans bear the brunt of climate change.

“I repeat, we are shouldering the consequences of the actions of others – actions that endanger our very existence and all for the enrichment of a few elsewhere,” continued the Dominica prime minister.

“We dug graves today in Dominica! We buried loved ones yesterday; and, I am sure that as I return home tomorrow, we shall discover additional fatalities, as a consequence of this encounter.

“Our homes are flattened, our buildings roofless, our water pipes smashed, and road infrastructure destroyed,” Skerrit said.

“Our hospital is without power, and schools have disappeared beneath the rubble. Our crops are uprooted. Where there was green, there is now only dust and dirt. The desolation is beyond imagination.”

He said that “the stars have fallen, Eden is broken,” and that Dominica has come to the United Nations to declare an international humanitarian emergency – “one that is centred in Dominica but also encompasses many of our neighbours, including our sister isle, Antigua, which had to evacuate its citizens from Barbuda.”

The prime minister said Dominicans have been responsible members of the global community, and have co-joined all of the major international battles – from the abolition of forced labour to the protection of patents.

Yet, today, he said 72,000 Dominicans “lie on the front line in a war they did not choose, with extensive casualties from a war that they did not start.”