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Irma renews focus on Caribbean climate change efforts

KEY ISSUES: St Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet is among the Caribbean leaders who will be raising the issue of climate change and debt restructuring

THE NEXT step for Caribbean leaders in the wake of Hurricane Irma, alongside rebuilding the countries most affected , is likely to be a fresh assault on the world’s climate change agenda.

Some experts describe the Caribbean as being in “perpetual recession” from climate change due to daily erosion of the region’s vital tourism industry.

The Caribbean has been one of the biggest campaigners for the Paris Accord with the 1.5 to stay alive campaign, focusing on the temperature the Earth needed to be sustainable.

IMPETUS

Hurricane Irma has clearly given the Caribbean fresh impetus to push larger states on climate change work.

Reporting from Washington, Reuters quoted representatives of some of the affected countries as saying that “devastation from Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean will sharpen the demands from small island nations that top fossil-fuel consumers help them cope with damage attributable to climate change.

That will put island nations on a collision course with the United States and other rich countries during United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany, in November.

DEBT

And already, there are suggestions for another look at the global debt structure, which classifies small Caribbean nations as middle-income and blocks them from easier debt arrangements.

Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, St Lucia’s Allan Chastanet and Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Director-General Didacus Jules visited St Martin, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands before arriving in Antigua where they made it clear at press conference that it was time to look again at debt restructuring.

Prime Minister Browne spoke of building on a “sustainable basis” for OECS countries.

St Lucia’s Allan Chastanet said: “what has taken place in the last few days was a wake-up call for all of us that we cannot continue business as usual”.

In a recent interview with The Voice Ulric Trotz, deputy director at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) said that the entire way of life in the Caribbean is under threat if the region does not get to grips with climate change.

In an interview with The Voice, says that Caribbean nations now face increasingly extreme weather each year and urgently need to strengthen their defences against a range of natural disasters.

DEVASTATION: A man walks through a street covered in debris following Hurricane Irma

FUNDS

However access to available funds to help them do this is too often mired in bureaucratic red tape.

Trotz said: “As a region, we are very exposed to climate risk. A lot of the damage now comes from extreme precipitation. So that translates into floods, landslides, loss of life, loss of livelihoods. We have some serious concerns about the viability of Caribbean life as we know it. "

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