Thu | Nov 26, 2020

Ja to seek funding to ramp up climate-change resilience

Published:Sunday | November 22, 2020 | 8:04 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
From left: Climate Change Minister Pearnel Charles Jr, World Bank Representative for Jamaica Ozan Sevimli, and UnaMay Gordon, principal director in the Climate Change Division pause to observe mitigation works along Port Royal Street in Kingston during a tour yesterday.

Climate Change Minister Pearnel Charles Jr says the ministry will be ramping up efforts to secure funding to carry out works on key areas of the Corporate Area and other sections of the island in danger of significant damage from the effects of climate change.

Pointing to some of the areas which broke away during recent heavy rains, Charles said it brought into focus the need for more climate-resilient infrastructure.

He was speaking with reporters yesterday during a tour of projects to secure and beautify a section of the coastline on Port Royal Street in downtown Kingston and another off the Palisadoes main road, as well as sections of Weise Road and other areas in Bull Bay, St Andrew.

“We are trying to identify finances to do further improvement to Palisadoes. The previous investment is one we could say is sustainable,” said Charles, who heads the Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, and also has responsibility for water.

Kingston Eastern and Port Royal Member of Parliament Phillip Paulwell embraced the idea of a project to improve other sections of the Palisadoes strip, which falls in his constituency and is home to the Norman Manley International Airport.

“The reality of climate change is here and I am very happy that the minister is taking this matter seriously and is intent that the success of this project can be further developed. This road is important to Jamaica. It is the entrance and exit to the country to international business and tourists. It is crucial that this be preserved.

“During the horrific Hurricane Ivan, the airport was cut off and my people in Port Royal were also badly affected,” Paulwell told The Gleaner.

UnaMay Gordon, principal director in the Climate Change Division in the ministry, said the work is necessary to ensure that the road remains operational at all times and to guarantee continued access to the Norman Manley International Airport.

“This was put in after Hurricane Ivan in 2004,” she said of a barricade installed to protect the area. “The road went below sea level and the revetment was put in place as a measure for that. You can see sand attrition now because the beach was badly eroded. The road was also raised by six metres.”

Gordon said she was optimistic about the future of Jamaica’s climate change resilience.

“We are looking at the impact of climate change, what we can ascribe to it and some of the solutions that can be prescribed and how we can use data to look at our vulnerabilities and inform decision-making,” she said. “We are far advanced in developing our climate change-resilient infrastructure tool ... . This will be a tool investors can apply to know if they should or should not make an investment.”

Coming out of the Climate Summit in New York City last year, Jamaica started working with the government of the United Kingdom (UK) and the University of Oxford in the UK to complete the plan to help rebuild after this year’s Atlantic hurricane season.

“ ... Jamaica joined that coalition to get the benefits from it across the world. We are far advanced. Sooner or later, we will be able to use it to inform decisions to build back greener as we come out of this hurricane season which has caused a wide level of devastation across the island,” said Gordon.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com