Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Greater Response Needed to Avert Climate Change

Published:Monday | March 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The achievement of Jamaica's National Development Plan, Vision 2030, might be jeopardised if there isn't a different approach to the current response to changing climatic conditions.

According to Professor Michael A. Taylor, director of the Climate Studies Group at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, climate change has brought about the unpredictability of the current climate conditions now affecting Jamaica and the Caribbean region.

Taylor, who was the presenter at the GraceKennedy Foundation annual public lecture held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, said that the rising temperatures, diminishing reliability in rainfall, drought, rising sea levels and increasing numbers and frequencies of storms and hurricanes were some of the features of this new climate change.

This unpredictability he said has accompanied by a change in the levels of exposure which in turn was giving rise to the emergence of new vulnerable groups, with the environment, flora, fauna, some segments of the labour force, the disabled, the education sector and ultimately the economy, among those being impacted.

Lack of action

Taylor said that there was evidence of the need for greater action in response to the changing climatic conditions, noting that currently there is a high level of inertia regarding climate change in the region that could become very costly in the long run. The cost of this inactivity, he said, could run to billions of dollars by 2050.

He proposed, as a possible solution to the impact of climate change, the development of a high level of resiliency within the region that could lead to sustainability and the need for the development of a communication strategy. "This resiliency could be brought about through priority being given to the environment; better management of the water resource; improved transportation and roadways; prioritising disaster risk management; the creation of a climate change registry to coordinate climate change activities; greater focus on positive values and attitudes; fostering entrepreneurship and creativity; and the strengthening of community groups," he said. Since 2007, Professor Taylor has been the director of the Climate Studies Group, Mona, a multi-country collaborative initiative which comprises a team of physics lecturers who study climate variability and its impact on short-term changes in the Caribbean climate.