Climate change features at United Nations – warnings that climate change is existential threat to Caribbean

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 21, CMC – Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell Tuesday said that climate change is an existential threat for the Caribbean noting that small island developing states (SIDS) had long been vocal about the dangers posed by the effects of climate change, particularly global warming and sea level rise.

Mitchell, the current Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman, told an international aid donors conference here that the Caribbean, for the first time was struck by two category five hurricanes within a two week period.

Grenada PM
CARICOM Chairman and Grenada Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria left rails of death and damage when they passed through the Lesser Antilles in September. Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica felt the brunt of the hurricanes with the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos Islands and Ragged Island in The Bahamas and St. Kitts-Nevis also experiencing levels of destruction.

Mitchell told the CARICOM – United Nations High Level Pledging Conference here that the dramatic escalation in the force and frequency of the storms had long been predicted and that five of the eight hurricanes which traversed the region in the past six months have been Category 3 or stronger and three of those made landfall.

He said that scientific reports put out by international agencies, including the United Nations, and respected academia have warned of the catastrophic consequences of global warming.

“There can be no question that for us in the Caribbean, climate change is an existential threat. Current trends indicate that there will be no respite. Indeed, the intensity and the frequency will increase,” he warned.

The Grenada prime minister said that a World Bank report projects that should global temperatures rise by two degrees centigrade, the number of severe hurricanes will increase by 40 per cent.

“Further, it stated, that based on current trends, it is more likely to rise by four degrees centigrade, which would see an 80 per cent increase.”

Mitchell said that while the Caribbean countries have been doing much to deal with the impact of climate change “what they need at this time is financial and technical support which would assist them in their efforts not only to rebuild their lives and their countries but to build back better.

“That support is needed across the region, as we seek to reduce our vulnerability to all external shocks and build our resilience, socially, economically and environmentally. Building that resilience is crucial as, in respect of hurricanes, what was not too long ago, a once in a lifetime experience, is now occurring with overwhelming regularity.”

He said that the quickly recurring disasters retard the development prospects of SIDS, which all have inherent economic and environmental vulnerabilities.

“Dominica was still recovering from the damage caused in 2015 by Tropical Storm Erika, which was estimated at 90 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) …(and) rehabilitation and reconstruction were not yet complete from Erika when Hurricane Maria delivered its crippling blow.

“Such a situation exacerbates the already burdensome debt problem for states that have had to borrow to rebuild in the first instance. Now, without having repaid the first debt, you have to borrow to rebuild again.”

Mitchell said that this challenge is compounded by the criteria to access concessional development financing which relies heavily on GDP per capita to determine eligibility.

“Most of our countries have been graduated to middle and high-income status which denies us access to such funds. Unfortunately, the international financial institutions and development agencies have no criteria for revoking a graduated status, even in the face of a situation which these countries face today. “

He said the Organisation for economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) admitted recently that “many factors, such as the devastating effects of a natural disaster and humanitarian crisis, could conceivably lead to a substantial and sustained drop in the per capita income of an affected country, or Region, especially in the case of a small state.”

“On behalf of all SIDS, I call for the OECD and the International Financial Institutions to change the rules and the criteria urgently. In particular, I call on those countries that constitute the boards of these Institutions, to do the right thing.  Vulnerability must be included as a major criterion in determining eligibility for concessional development financing,’ Mitchell said, warning that the next hurricane season is a mere seven months away.

 

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The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017

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UNITED NATIONS, Nov 21, CMC – Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell Tuesday said that climate change is an existential threat for the Caribbean noting that small island developing states (SIDS) had long been vocal about the dangers posed by the effects of climate change, particularly global warming and sea level rise.

Mitchell, the current Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman, told an international aid donors conference here that the Caribbean, for the first time was struck by two category five hurricanes within a two week period.

Grenada PM
CARICOM Chairman and Grenada Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria left rails of death and damage when they passed through the Lesser Antilles in September. Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica felt the brunt of the hurricanes with the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos Islands and Ragged Island in The Bahamas and St. Kitts-Nevis also experiencing levels of destruction.

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Mitchell told the CARICOM – United Nations High Level Pledging Conference here that the dramatic escalation in the force and frequency of the storms had long been predicted and that five of the eight hurricanes which traversed the region in the past six months have been Category 3 or stronger and three of those made landfall.

He said that scientific reports put out by international agencies, including the United Nations, and respected academia have warned of the catastrophic consequences of global warming.

“There can be no question that for us in the Caribbean, climate change is an existential threat. Current trends indicate that there will be no respite. Indeed, the intensity and the frequency will increase,” he warned.

The Grenada prime minister said that a World Bank report projects that should global temperatures rise by two degrees centigrade, the number of severe hurricanes will increase by 40 per cent.

“Further, it stated, that based on current trends, it is more likely to rise by four degrees centigrade, which would see an 80 per cent increase.”

Mitchell said that while the Caribbean countries have been doing much to deal with the impact of climate change “what they need at this time is financial and technical support which would assist them in their efforts not only to rebuild their lives and their countries but to build back better.

“That support is needed across the region, as we seek to reduce our vulnerability to all external shocks and build our resilience, socially, economically and environmentally. Building that resilience is crucial as, in respect of hurricanes, what was not too long ago, a once in a lifetime experience, is now occurring with overwhelming regularity.”

He said that the quickly recurring disasters retard the development prospects of SIDS, which all have inherent economic and environmental vulnerabilities.

“Dominica was still recovering from the damage caused in 2015 by Tropical Storm Erika, which was estimated at 90 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) …(and) rehabilitation and reconstruction were not yet complete from Erika when Hurricane Maria delivered its crippling blow.

“Such a situation exacerbates the already burdensome debt problem for states that have had to borrow to rebuild in the first instance. Now, without having repaid the first debt, you have to borrow to rebuild again.”

Mitchell said that this challenge is compounded by the criteria to access concessional development financing which relies heavily on GDP per capita to determine eligibility.

“Most of our countries have been graduated to middle and high-income status which denies us access to such funds. Unfortunately, the international financial institutions and development agencies have no criteria for revoking a graduated status, even in the face of a situation which these countries face today. “

He said the Organisation for economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) admitted recently that “many factors, such as the devastating effects of a natural disaster and humanitarian crisis, could conceivably lead to a substantial and sustained drop in the per capita income of an affected country, or Region, especially in the case of a small state.”

“On behalf of all SIDS, I call for the OECD and the International Financial Institutions to change the rules and the criteria urgently. In particular, I call on those countries that constitute the boards of these Institutions, to do the right thing.  Vulnerability must be included as a major criterion in determining eligibility for concessional development financing,’ Mitchell said, warning that the next hurricane season is a mere seven months away.