The UN Climate Action Summit (September 23) and follow up discussions at the UN General Assembly and the media are attracting worldwide attention. UN Secretary-General António Guterres requested leaders from government, business and civil society to come up with plans to address the global climate emergency. Chief among them was to increase their commitments to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement (2015) “to work toward reducing emissions by at least 45% by 2030 and to essentially zero by mid-century". In the intervening period, there. has been a hive of activities that goad the Caribbean Region to consolidate its climate advocacy and action. The outcomes from each of these activities combine as a clarion call to accelerate the response to Climate adaption and resilience with regional partnerships and global solidarity as imperatives.
First , The Youth Climate Summit was an historic event on the weekend leading up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit. It was complemented by the Youth Climate Strikes in major cities throughout the world. At the centre of these platforms was 16 year old Greta Thunberg from Sweden whose stirring address to the UN Summit resonated among all stakeholders, including entrepreneurs and change-makers mindful of protecting our planet. Ms. Thumberg demanded swift action to fight climate change and chided leaders for yielding few commitments for environmental overhaul. See her emotional speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43q15ncwzWo
Second was the launching of the European Union funded/Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) Project, Enhancing Climate Resilience in CARIFORUM Countries that took place in Barbados. Its aim is to establish a Global Water Partnership with Caribbean organizations forming a focal point. This is the latest in a series of programmes pioneered by 5Cs which include an Electric School Bus Pilot and a grid -interactive Solar PV System for Schools and Health Clinics in Antigua and Barbuda; Transitioning to National Energy Security : Bartica as a Model Green Town in Guyana; Implementing a Solar Electricity System for a Low Income Residential Development in Ouanaminthe in Haiti ; Solar Carport and Electric Vehicle Charging Station in St Lucia; and a Salt Water Reverse Osmosis system (SWRO) Destalinization powered by Photo Voltaic (PV) Renewable Energy System in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Third is the article in Forbes Magazine reporting that of the top thirty global polluters per capita, ten are from the Caribbean region. These are Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts & Nevis, Guyana, Barbados, St. Lucia, Bahamas, Grenada, Anguilla and Aruba. It was revealed that every year, these ten island nations generate more plastic debris than the weight of 20,000 space shuttles. There is no doubt need for waste management and waste infrastructure, such as garbage collection, recycling centres and secure landfills to be improved. However, it was refreshing to note the balanced conclusion arrived at by the author that is important to arguments for climate justice: "It is too simplistic to make global comparisons based on absolute numbers. Ranking total plastic waste production per country masks global systems of inequality and overlooks the vulnerability of small, seemingly “insignificant” coastal communities. Rather than vilifying individual countries, we must deconstruct systems of inequality that perpetuate plastic pollution and increase vulnerability among select populations" https://www.forbes.com/sites/daphneewingchow/2019/09/20/caribbean-islands-are-the-biggest-plastic-polluters-per-capita-in-the-world/#182ebff3774b
Fourth, there was a most informative symposium Global Partnership for Climate Action Symposium co-sponsored by University of the West Indies and State University of New York (SUNY) at SUNY. It is a capstone for the Caribbean response to the three types of activities above. GOFAD could only inadequately summarize the robust discussions by highlighting the following takeaways:
After listening to the absorbing panel discussions at the UWI-SUNY symposium I wrote the following note to my colleagues "I feel even more justified in promoting the dream of a Caribbean Pan Caribbean Partnership for Climate Action".
Edward and Auriol Greene Directors, GOFAD.