Earth Today | ‘Prioritise climate response’
THE SWELTERING heat being experienced on the island is a heady reminder of the need to not only prioritise, but also scale up climate change planning and response actions.
“Climate impacts the standard and quality of life that we live and, therefore, we need to see greater urgency in really mainstreaming actions to deal with it; actions that go beyond a project, actions that are anticipatory, actions that have really transformative effects for the society,” said climate scientist Professor Michael Taylor.
“It is so obvious that climate is outstripping or outpacing our actions towards dealing with it. It is a distressing situation,” added the co-lead for the Climate Studies Group Mona and co-author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the impacts of global warming, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change.
That IPCC report itself calls for enhanced and accelerated adaptation and mitigation actions in response to the changing climate, which, in addition to alarmingly high global temperatures that put public health at risk, also threatens extreme weather events, including hurricanes and droughts, together with associated impacts that threaten food and water security, among other things.
“I am a climate scientist. All I can do is share the data, given the projections, and tell you that this is right in the pattern that we anticipate; and it is not now that we have been speaking about it,” Taylor said.
Yet, the physicist noted, “Our response still remains largely reactive, and reactive responses tend to be the most expensive ... water trucking, dealing with the bush fires, etc”.
Among the required priority actions Taylor recommends is a focus on water.
“We clearly need to look on water. The Water Resources Authority is looking at the new generation of the water plan. We need to give them all the possible resources to fast-track that, and then we need to look at all the transformative water projects they are putting on track,” he said.
“The Met Service needs also to be adequately resourced because there is a forecasting element to all of this; and early warming, which will complement the action. And then we need to have clear action plans for certain climate thresholds and those we are not really thinking about, such as the heat and the drought,” he added.
There is need, too, Taylor said, to fast-track the climate change sector plans now being worked on by the Climate Change Division in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.
“We also need to look at the interlinkages. Water, for example, could be planning for what they need, but not accounting for the sporting facilities that will need a lot more water for greening or for cooling. We are long past the stage where we are wondering whether climate is a problem for us; and we need to quickly move past enacting or developing plans and begin to move into concrete measures, to enacting the plans,” he said.