Climate Change is an existential threat for the Caribbean.
Since 2009, Small Island Developing States and many others have been calling for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels to prevent the worst of climate change impacts. The inclusion of a 1.5°C temperature limit in the 2015 Paris Agreement was a major victory for vulnerable countries.
#1point5toStayAlive Frontpage News
Dr Michael Taylor
The Guardian, 6 October 2017
Alongside other emerging climate patterns, there is a strong case to be made that there is something unfamiliar about the Caribbean’s climate today. We are seeing repeated and prolonged droughts, an increase in the number of very hot days, intense rainfall events causing repeated localised flooding, and rising sea levels that are consuming the beautiful beaches on which tourism in our region depends.
- Category: 1.5°C Press
Climate change is real, an indisputable fact that people across the globe have already experienced, given that extreme phenomena are now common, while their impact is greater.
Science and geophysical evidence not only point to this change, they stress it. In fact, the term climate change is no longer really pertinent, as this disruption in climatic patterns is already part of our lives and not some forecasted occurrence that might be avoided.
What we can do, what we are called to do, is to simultaneously alleviate or mitigate the impact of global warming to date and engage in concrete measures to contain any further heating of the atmosphere and the oceans.
This is all the more urgent as the impacts we are already experiencing result from an increase of roughly 1 degree above pre-industrial temperatures.
The 1.5° target is already a major concession
This means that the 1.5° target fixed by the Paris Agreement (2015) as a tentative optimal goal is already a major concession, for it entails significantly greater impacts, both in number and in severity, than now accepting as it does a further rise in temperature albeit limited to half a degree.
Hence, the 1.5° target does not mean an improvement on current conditions – it simply means containing the worsening of these conditions. But these will get worse, meaning that the impacts will be more devastating.
This is all the more certain as the 1.5° target refers to a planetary average, which masks regional disparities, whether in terms of differences in temperature levels or impacts due to the general warming.
In this context, the specific circumstances of small island developing states (SIDS) give rise to unique vulnerabilities, as evidenced in recent events and in the limitations they face in terms of response capacities, namely due to limited finances.
For us in the Caribbean, climate change signifies stronger hurricanes, more drought and resulting water shortages, a rise in sea level, heat waves, and warmer days and nights.
It is important to stress that, though the devastation wrought by hurricanes is more spectacular and hence more newsworthy, the impact of droughts is equally damaging in terms of food security, while an increase in heat waves and the number of hotter days and nights will affect – are already affecting – people’s health and wellbeing.