by Ernie Seon - Caribbean Media Corporation
Apia, Samoa - The science advisor to the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS), Dr. Albert Binger, is urging countries to quickly adopt a global agreement which will spare small island states the agony of having to deal with the effects of more intense hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Dr Binger, who is on secondment from the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC), told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that while discussions are taking place on climate change, many are unaware of the urgency of the situation.
“Essentially we have five years to set a global agreement to keep the emissions to where we see we can survive.
“It seems like in all the talk people don’t seem to recognise the urgency involved in the situation. There are 2,000 days or five years to actually get an implementation to meet a window to keep the temperature below 1.5 degrees.
“If it goes above 1.5 degrees a lot of countries especially those in the Caribbean and Pacific will be in serious trouble,” he warned.
Dr. Binger is among a number of climate change and environmental experts attending a four day conference on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in Small Island Development states which opened here on Monday.
“The Lessons for Future Action Conference” will allow delegates to share experiences and lessons learned in relation to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction among Small Island Developing States (SIDS) drawing on experiences from Australia and other countries.
He told CMC that collectively most small island states would feel the effects of serious flooding, drought and a lot more intense hurricanes in states like the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Suriname and Guyana.
“We are already half way there, we are at .8 degrees and with all the hell that’s going on, you can imagine what another doubling can do,” Dr Binger remarked.
The AOSIS official whose role is to provide information on development projects, technologies and strategies to deal with climate change and sustainable development issues said that while the science and its impacts are known, the time factor isn’t.
“The development of science only last year gave us enough information that we were able to know that we had this amount of time.
“So the urgency is something that we look to the media to tell the population and the political leaders so there will be a sense or urgency. But at this time there still no urgency because they don’t realize there is actually a clock,” he noted.
He suggested that regardless of what is done at the international level if emissions are not stopped at a certain level, “all we are doing is buying time”.
Dr. Binger said what is required at the international level is a global agreement which caps the emissions and then reduces them, while at the national and regional levels, a rethinking is required because of the impact of sea level rise.
He said that an analysis for the Caribbean suggests that for one meter sea level rise, the damage to infrastructure is estimated at US$100 billion.
“This is a very conservative estimate, most of our beaches will be gone, so how do you build a future economy without tourism,” he said, recommending that the region gets its energy sector right, “not just to reduce our emissions but to generate finance resources that we can build a new economy with and deal with adaptations”.
The AOSIS official also called for better uses to be employed with educating people as to the existing threats, so that they same mistakes and malpractices are not repeated, “thinking that they live in a different climate regime than the one they face in the future.”
Dr. Binger also identified the need for more political understanding that climate change is not an issue for the wider Caribbean but for every single member of the population.