Wake-up call - Minister urges Jamaicans to start treating climate change with the seriousness it deserves

Published: Sunday | December 15, 2013 Comments 0

Robert Pickersgill, minister of water, land, environment and climate change, has admitted that climate proofing of communities and key sectors across the island is no longer an option but a necessity.

And while the cost of financing climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts will be very high, Pickersgill says the political will and fiscal resources must be found to facilitate the changes to meet and withstand the many threats from climate change.

Delivering the keynote address at the closing and awards ceremony of the Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Project last week, Pickersgill underscored the far-reaching impact of climate change on Jamaica.

"Already, Jamaica and several other island states are feeling the effects of climate change, including coral bleaching, coastal erosion, flooding and more intense weather events," noted Pickersgill.

"What is amazing to me is that even now there are still naysayers about climate change, despite the growing body of scientific knowledge about this phenomenon and the empirical evidence."

Pickersgill pointed to a recent report in the American publication The Washington Post, which identified Kingston among a handful of cities around the world that are scheduled to hit "climate departure" by the year 2023 if concrete steps are not taken to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions.

Climate departure refers to the moment when average temperatures, either in a specific location or worldwide, become so impacted by climate change that the old climate is left behind.

The negative implications for Jamaica are such that it will require a concerted national effort, starting now, advised Pickersgill.

"We must, therefore, plan, not just for more frequent disasters but for droughts, for flooding and for heat.

"We must plan new ways of feeding ourselves, new energy systems and new ways of building infrastructure.

"It goes without saying that living in the past paralyses the present and bankrupts the future, and so, as I have often said, with climate change we must change."

According to Pickersgill, Jamaica must begin to do whatever is necessary to respond to this challenge and adapt to its impact.

He insisted that the country needs to take a much more focused approach to climate-change issues.

"I am acutely aware of the constraints of the fiscal space in which we are all operating but I believe that these times call for creativity, more productivity from all of us, greater dialogue and more partnerships, if we are to achieve the goals set out under Vision 2030.

"Indeed, it will be better to look ahead and prepare, rather than to look back and despair."

- C.S.

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