Jamaicans urged to step up climate mitigation efforts
Professor Tannecia Stephenson, head of the Physics Department at The University of the West Indies, Mona, says Jamaica will have to increase climate-mitigation and adaptation efforts to address the effects of climate change.
She says this has become important as climate models project that the country will experience more intense storms and rainfall, increased temperatures and rising sea levels.
“The response to climate change is everybody’s business; that is a message to all – private sector, public sector, communities, schools and institutions,” she said, noting that the emission of greenhouse gases has to be reduced.
Stephenson was addressing a session of the recently concluded Jamaica 60 Diaspora Conference on climate change and diaspora engagement.
“Communities should use the information that we are going to be hotter and drier, on average, with more intense rain events, and position themselves to do river training and to change agricultural practices. Some are not just good business practices, they are things we can do in response to climate change,” she said, recommending the planting of more trees to increase vegetation so as to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
She also underscored the importance of public education, which she said can convey the message of climate adaptation.
Supporting Stephenson on the importance of public education to get the message out, Elizabeth Mullings-Smith, managing director of Maya Blue Limited, environment management consultants and Global Jamaica Diaspora Council member with oversight for development issues, also added that collective core behaviours will need to change and embrace the fact that we are actually living within the period of climate change. She also said that it is important that all ministries, departments and agencies work collaboratively and collegiately to develop aligned adaptation strategies, policies and investment plans to enable national resilience.
Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation and member ombudsman at The Jamaica National Group, who chaired the session, said climate change needs to be urgently addressed. She pointed out that there has been a lot of research done on the topic.
“We need to now put those research findings into action. Each Jamaican, company, (government) ministries and each Jamaican living overseas can help in that fight as well,” she added.
“We need to get every Jamaican to care enough, to take personal responsibility to protect the environment, to think ‘pro-climate survival’ in everyday actions. We need to get every Jamaican architect, urban planner, contractor to think climate adaptation and survival in their work, even before laying any blocks,” she suggested.
She noted that the JN Foundation, through the Water Project Jamaica, has developed a homeowner’s guide which provides specifications and requirements to guide the construction and retrofitting of homes, in order to strengthen water conservation and mitigate loss. The guide can be accessed on the JN Foundation website at www.jnfoundation.com.