Barbados Must Drive Its Own Climate Change Strategy

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With industrialised countries facing ongoing international scrutiny, in relation to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a concomitant call is being made for Barbados to engender home-grown solutions to problems posed by climate change.

It has come from Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe, who, after witnessing first-hand the treatment of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) by developed countries, is also proposing the use of local expertise in an effort to ensure that solutions match the island’s unique needs.

In reflecting on COP 15 [UN Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen], in Denmark in December 2009?? Minister Lowe maintained:?? "The Copenhagen experience for me was about learning. It was about trying to understand how the world thinks, seeing where there were potential partnerships and exploiting them. In the end, however, it was about coming back home and saying to our people – we have to set our own strategy.

"Barbados’ approach to climate change has to be a locally driven strategy – one driven by the realities of Barbados. While we may not have the financial fortitude to fund the kinds of necessary programmes, we still have to understand that our survivability cannot be driven by some other country’s template. We have to create our own response to the realities of the impact of climate change," he surmised.

Noting that their goal as SIDS?? was to have?? as one of the conference outputs, a?? legally – binding agreement ??that would scale-up ??available funding, as well as effectively monitor whether industrialised nations were, in fact, meeting their commitments,?? Minister Lowe?? intimated that they were sadly disappointed by the actual outcomes.

"It was almost like being invited to a buffet and being told that the menu included a plethora of delicacies, but you got there after a glutton, so that what was left for you was less than the scraps. It is a sad commentary on how nations could talk about caring for vulnerable nations, but unless you live in the basin of vulnerability, you would never understand," he lamented.????

Positing that climate change resulted?? in "tremendous variability" in the island’s weather patterns, increased drought, and?? also a?? negative effect on agriculture, Dr. Lowe?? further underscored the need?? for?? changes to a number of the island’s practices, including those?? relating to?? waste management.

"I can tell you that we are in the final stages of an agreement with an international institution to start the first landfill gas-to-energy project in the region. Again, this is designed to assist us in shrinking our carbon footprint to ensure that there is tighter management of our consumption patterns that would result in the reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," he revealed.

The Minister also commended the?? Coastal Zone Management Unit’s ongoing?? work in the area of?? climate change mitigation, particularly with regard to?? preservation of the island’s coastline, and?? pledged that?? efforts?? would?? be made to continue these and other programmes.

"We are going to look at how we can go forward in setting out a new national carpet, if you will, that is in response to climate change issues…We have talked a lot, we have done a lot of research in the Ministry and we have written a lot of papers. It is now time to get on the ground and bring these things to life among the citizens of Barbados," he asserted.

"Climate change will impact upon how we grow and what we grow, so we can’t wait for these [industrialised] countries to tell us what our domestic strategy has to be…at the end of the day they will scamper in their own comfort zone and if a little island like Barbados decides to run behind them, we will not catch up," Dr. Lowe warned.

Therefore, while vulnerable states like Barbados are forced to depend on the industrialised world for some aspects of our survivability, the strong message is being sent that they need not be craftsmen of our fate.????cgaskin@barbados.gov.bb

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