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Barnett Highlights Climate Change Impact On CARICOM

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Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General Dr. Carla Barnett has highlighted  ‘very tangible’ human, economic and financial impact on the Region from climate change.

Barnett spoke at the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) plenary meeting on May 29.

“This august body will recall the record-breaking 2017 hurricane season,” she noted.
Barnett said that’s when Hurricanes Irma and Maria charted paths of destruction across the Region within two weeks.

She told the event that damage estimated at more than 200% of GDP occurred in Dominica.

In Barbuda, the housing stock was almost totally destroyed.

The CARICOM Secretary-General also observed that critical infrastructure, including water and electricity, homes, health facilities, and schools, were decimated after the storms.

She spoke ahead of the  2024 Atlantic Hurricane season which officially began on June 1.

Experts have predicted that the season will be extremely active, with a forecast of 11 hurricanes, five of them slated to be major storms of Category 3 intensity or higher.

In addition, there are predictions of near-record heat for the Caribbean Region from April to September 2024.

Barnett stated that several CARICOM member states are already experiencing periods of prolonged drought, compounded by forest and bushfires.

“Simultaneously, we are witnessing sea-level rise, salination of aquifers, coastal erosion, and land degradation. Our countries are pressed to develop strategies and programmes to address the resultant social instability, reduction in quality of life, and migration of our most important resource—our people,” she observed.

“As CARICOM, and all SIDS, continue to bear the brunt of global climate change – climate change that we do not cause – we are alarmed by the apparent drawback by some in the international community from the ambition necessary to limit increases in global temperature to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels,” the CARICOM Secretary-General declared.

She warned that SIDS do not have the luxury of time.

“We must ensure that in the next ten years, we solve the problem of access to resources to address our vulnerabilities,” Barnett asserted.

At the same time, she spoke of the need to continue insisting that those countries responsible for the emissions that cause climate change take effective action to reduce their own emissions.

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