Leaders from Caribbean islands are urging President Donald Trump to take climate change seriously before they disappear due to extreme weather conditions, according to reports.
Hurricane season poses an existential threat to the islands as increased rainfall caused by climate change makes hurricanes stronger, experts say. Recently, leaders from the Caribbean began urging Trump to understand the gravity of global warming.
“In 2017, we saw some of the most devastating and destructive hurricanes we’ve seen in our history,” Selwin Hart, Barbados’ ambassador to the U.S. told The Guardian. “This needs to be recognized…. This isn’t some scientific debate, it’s a reality with loss of life implications. We need the U.S. to be back at the table and engage. It’s imperative. We wouldn’t have a Paris climate agreement without the U.S. and we need them back now.”
Ricardo Rosselló, governor of Puerto Rico, added that the U.S. territory “remains in a more vulnerable situation than other states…. It is expected that some of the initial effects of climate change will be seen in Puerto Rico.”
Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord—an international agreement that created an action plan to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels—in June 2017. A year later, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claimed that greenhouse gas emissions had dropped substantially under the current administration despite the president’s decision to abandon the international deal.
The fact-checking website Politifact, however, later revealed that the majority of the emissions drop had taken place under former President Barack Obama, not under Trump. Emissions did fall slightly under Trump, declining for the third consecutive year since the international climate deal was negotiated, but the decline was slower during Trump’s first year in office than it had been before he arrived in the White House.
“In 2017, when Trump was president, emissions fell by less than 1 percent. That was a smaller decrease than for either of Obama’s final two years. In 2016, emissions fell by 1.64 percent from their 2015 level, and for 2015, they fell by 2.68 percent over their 2014 level,” Politifact notes.
In September, Hurricane Irma demonstrated how devastating the consequences of climate change could be for the Caribbean islands. People were left without power and over 100 people died. Because of their small size and geographic location, the islands are exceptionally vulnerable to climate change. A recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) also revealed that climate change will significantly reduce fisheries in the Caribbean by 2050, which will make the islands more food insecure.
Trump, however, has repeatedly expressed skepticism about climate change, claiming that it was a hoax promoted by the Chinese to hurt U.S. businesses. The administration has also floated the idea of reviving the U.S. coal industry and drilling for more oil and gas, both of which would increase climate-warming carbon emissions. The U.S. has already produced more greenhouse gases than any other country, and most world leaders agree that it would be nearly impossible to fight climate change without the participation of the U.S.
With this in mind, leaders in the Caribbean are preparing for the worst, developing new revenue streams that can withstand the impact of climate change and collecting data to determine just how radically the future of their countries will change.