Caribbean leaders met this past weekend (July 2-5, 2009) in the Caribbean Community (Caricom) summit in Guyana. One of the main problems discussed was the challenge for Caribbean countries to deal with economic damage from climate change in Caricom member countries. The estimated total losses are US$11 billion by 2080, or 11 percent of the grouping’s gross domestic product, and nearly a fifth of the losses in these countries is likely to be linked to the effects of sea-level rise— loss of land and damage to tourism infrastructure, housing, buildings, and general infrastructure. The Caribbean region is among the regions said by scientists to be most at risk from the effects of global warming.
That estimated bill from the World Bank is one the factors that led the Caricom leaders to issue a statement regarding these future challenges. A report by the bank last year said the top 10 countries, in terms of population affected, that could experience the most serious damage include Suriname, Guyana and the Bahamas.
The Caricom statement delivered a grave warning that the effects are already being felt, citing “increasingly frequent and intense” weather events, damage to biodiversity, coral bleaching, coastal erosion and changing rainfall patterns. About 65 percent of all species in the Caribbean depend to some extent on coral reefs, so the collapse of these reefs may have widespread impact on fisheries as well as the ecologies of the area. [Also see Caribbean reef fish threatened by coral loss, The US Virgin Islands face climate change challenges, and Large Predators Disappearing from Caribbean Waters.] Furthermore, small islands and low-lying coastal developing states (SIDS) may cease to exist. The Caricom statement called for rich nations to support these islands with financial and technical support in adapting to the adverse effects of climate change. It says that the Caribbean needs urgent action and change by the international community to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
The Caribbean heads of government are planning to lobby for the headquarters of the United Nations fund to help nations adapt to climate change to be sited in Barbados. St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Stephenson King, who has lead responsibility within Caricom for sustainable development, announced plans for a meeting in Guyana to further discuss the region’s position ahead of the UN Summit on climate change in Copenhagen in December. The summit also backed Guyana, which has campaigned for funding to keep its forests intact because of their potential contribution to reduced emissions.
A group of 22 leading climate scientists has also written to world leaders urging tough action, stating that “Unless the burden of poverty in developing nations is alleviated by significant financial support for mitigation, adaptation, and the reduction of deforestation, the ability of developing countries to pursue sustainable development is likely to diminish, to the economic and environmental detriment of all.”
For full article (in English), see http://www.bbc.co.uk/caribbean/news/story/2009/07/090708_climate.shtml
See photo and article about coral reef damage by climate changes at http://english.sina.com/technology/p/2009/0610/247588.html