From one heat to another

PM Dr Rowley. File photo by Sureash Cholai
PM Dr Rowley. File photo by Sureash Cholai

THE PRIME Minister’s confirmation of his attendance of the United Nation’s upcoming climate change conference underscores the boiling point we have arrived at in relation to this pressing global issue.

Undoubtedly, there is a lot of heat going around locally in politics, Dr Rowley has had to deal with, ahead of an election due later this year, but we today refer to the literal heat that’s been scorching the land in TT and all over the world.

The COP26 event in Glasgow, Scotland, is a crucial moment for the planet. It is essential that this country’s interests are represented and for this, we say kudos to the Government.

As a small island developing state, we are among many nations particularly vulnerable to the vagaries of extreme weather. We have been fortunate to have avoided major atmospheric disturbances, but have nonetheless seen the devastating impact of ordinary precipitation events this year.

While TT does not fall squarely within the vulnerable hurricane belt, we are also indirectly vulnerable through our Caricom neighbours.

Devastation in neighbouring states more prone to storms affects the economic viability of the region as a whole. Destruction and malaise next door not only places pressure on us to offer humanitarian support, but also affects our available trading partners.

Not to mention the existential threat posed by climate change as a whole.

As noted by a diplomat this month, the difference between 40 and 42 degrees Celsius is the difference between life and death for the human body. A relationship between temperature increases and diseases such as covid19 has also been posited.

This country ratified the 2016 Paris Accord on Climate Change in 2018. The State committed back then to producing 10 per cent of our power from renewable energy by this year.

Another commitment was to reduce greenhouse emissions by 15 per cent from industry, power generation and the transport sector by 2030 from a business-as-usual baseline.

The economic slowdown last year brought on by the pandemic may have ironically facilitated some progress in our emission reduction goals, but it is unclear whether enough progress has been made overall.

This should be clarified ahead of our adopting a diplomatic position come next month.

TT is in an unusual position in that we are both vulnerable to climate change and a major polluter per capita.

While we must attend to our short-term economic prospects, as an economic leader within Caricom, there is a moral imperative on us to set the right tone and look at the long-term regional picture.

Caricom, too, needs to speak with a united voice on all of these matters.

While there have been notable splits and differences of opinion on a range of policy issues in the past, every single Caricom state has a huge stake in climate change one way or another.


"From one heat to another"

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