‘Take serious climate action,’ Caribbean states demand of US

Dominica suffered large-scale devastation after Hurricane Maria last year.

Leaders from the Caribbean states are calling on the Donald Trump administration to seriously tackle the climate change crisis.

The call comes amid the Atlantic Hurricane season, one year after a series of hurricanes devastated several Caribbean countries and concerns that warming oceans could see another season of intense storms.

Greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming, which creates stronger hurricanes and rising sea levels. These events pose a unique threat to Caribbean countries.

The 2017 hurricane season impacted the region significantly, with hurricanes Irma and Maria, both category five tropical storms, wrecking havoc on several Caribbean countries.

Scientists have already warned of an even stronger 2018 hurricane season. Selwin Hart, Barbadian ambassador to the US, told The Guardian: “In 2017, we saw some of the most devastating and destructive hurricanes we’ve seen in our history, this needs to be recognised.”

The consequences of climate change are real, with stronger hurricanes hitting the coastal populations. Hart told The Guardian: “This isn’t some scientific debate; it’s a reality with loss of life implications. We need the United States to be back at the table and engage. It’s imperative.”

“The US is a major player in the world, and it needs to lead, we depend on it to be a moral voice on issues where people are vulnerable,” said Darren Henfield, the Bahamas foreign minister. “We really hope the US readjusts its position. It seems there will be doubters until we start completely losing islands.”

Henfield explained Bahamians are “dramatically aware” of climate change: “We are being forced to put up sea walls to push back the rising tides…

“We are very exposed and we could see the swallowing of the Bahamas by sea level rise. We don’t have much room for people, there’s nowhere for people to move. Climate change will exacerbate the issue of refugees.

“I don’t know what influences the mind of president Trump, but the world will be negatively impacted by not dealing with climate change. We always talk to our neighbours in the north and part of our foreign policy is to sensitise them and the international community to the threat we face.”

Several regional initiatives have also been implemented to deal with the fallout of climate change and prepare the region for future events. 

“Dominica was a real wake up call for us, it virtually got washed away,” said Didacus Jules, director general of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. “We know the impacts are going to be increasingly catastrophic and we need to plan for that. We need to do things completely differently in order to protect life and limb.”

However, many in the Caribbean fear the window of time to avert the worst is rapidly closing. Roosevelt Skerrit, prime minister of Dominica, addressed the United Nations last September in strikingly bleak terms, describing himself as coming “straight from the front line of the war on climate change”.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]