Barbados will continue to press ahead with its climate change agenda and push the concept of renewable energy despite the new position taken by the United States of America (US).
Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, made this clear today during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service.
Dr. Lowe’s statement came against the background of the position taken by US President, Donald Trump, that climate change was a “hoax”; and his subsequent push for the revitalisation of the coal industry, and the issuance of an Executive Order to restart the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“The moment has come. The President of the United States of America has determined that climate change is really a hoax, and that any notion about climate change science is based on false belief, and that there is no clear justification that this phenomenon called climate change exists,” he lamented.
However, the Environment Minister pointed out that while the current US president was “decrying” the legitimacy of climate change, 2016 was already being labelled as the warmest ocean temperature year.
“The impact of that accelerated warmth of the earth, according to American environmentalists, is the Michigan coastline, Lake Michigan. Evidence has been produced to show that the impact of climate change has affected that whole sea board area, including the erosion of beaches along the Illinois Coast. This is a fact as reported,” he asserted.
Dr. Lowe cautioned that the new US position spelled “bad news” for Barbados. “To suggest that the coal industry is a major driver in the creation of jobs is to perhaps not understand that coming along with the coal industry is a whole plethora of perils, some of which are health-related, most of which is the threat to our environment,” he explained.
He warned that the new position could see a significant reduction in funding from the United States to the United Nations system, which was the primary driver of climate change.
“Institutions like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Green Climate Fund will be impacted; the Adaptation Fund will be affected, and all of the other activities driven by US-donated funding will be impacted,” he pointed out.
However, while he did not suggest that funding would be discontinued, Dr. Lowe stressed that Barbados could not allow itself to be “hemmed in” by what might or might not occur relating to international funding.
He gave the assurance that his Ministry and Government would continue “to plough” ahead and look for unique ways to fund the island’s coastal rehabilitation green energy programmes.
“We stand ready to do what needs to be done. Our Ministry continues to work with our stakeholders to look for ways to continue to press ahead with our climate change agenda. We ask Barbadians from all walks of life to assist us in adopting and practising habits that would reduce the impacts of climate change on us as it relates to our water supply, our conservation effort, and our preservation efforts in terms of our spaces around the island that would be of importance,” Dr. Lowe urged.