Thu | Feb 22, 2018

Balance the climate scale - Jackson

Published:Monday | February 22, 2016 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

Bridgetown, Barbados:

As countries in the Caribbean work on their inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, Ronald Jackson, executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), is urging governments to ensure that there is a balance of the issues.

Speaking with The Gleaner following a Weather and Climate Forecasting Press Conference held in Barbados, Jackson urged sector leaders to place an equal focus on other impacts of climate change.

"There is a heavy focus on renewable energy and emissions, and that's fine. I support it because I think what that does is unlock resources into our economy to deal with other sectors, which is very important because our fuel bill is very high," he said.

"However, if we reduce our emissions, it will not prevent the impact of climate change on us. We (the Caribbean) are collectively less than one per cent emitters. However, we are still going to be battered by the environmental health issues - the floods, drought, sea-level rise and massive displacement. It, therefore, means we have to be involved in this business of reducing the adverse effects of these impacts," he said.

There has been strong emphasis for countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as the phenomenon has fuelled an increase in climate-change impacts, including sea-level rise and stronger or more frequent hurricanes.

These gases include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane.

The CDEMA boss also stressed the need for policymakers to act quickly in order to mitigate against the effects of climate change.

"We have been assessing, and we are not seeing the requisite investments in other areas, so what we are calling for is a level of equity in dealing with those issues. Energy security will not save the people from the floods and other repercussions. There will be a lot of challenges, and so it cannot be about energy alone, it has to be energy plus," he charged.

He also called for policymakers to take projections that are made for the upcoming hurricane season seriously.

"The challenge is, we are hoping to see a strengthening of these national policies and coordination of these contingency plans. As an agency, we want to see a greater support of national plans, greater investment in their capacity and ability to coordinate," he said.

"We have some concerns and we have been talking to governments across the islands. We have given them three models, because every country will be different according to size, resources and other factors. We have given them the model, and so our concern is how quickly they will be able to get on with the business of building their capacity to respond to disasters."