The Caribbean, renowned for its stunning landscapes, is grappling with a pressing crisis: climate change. In this vulnerable region, rising sea levels, powerful storms, and prolonged droughts pose grave threats. This article explores climate resilience in the Caribbean and highlights the urgent need for action and international support.
The Caribbean is uniquely susceptible to climate change due to its coastal populations and exposed location. Rising temperatures also endanger the region’s biodiversity.
Despite minimal global emissions, Caribbean nations are already experiencing severe climate impacts, resulting in debt burdens and increased migration, particularly in tourism-dependent economies.
Unique Challenges, Global Consequences
Despite contributing minimally to global emissions, Caribbean nations are already grappling with the harsh realities of climate change. Debt pressures are mounting, particularly in tourism-dependent economies.
Urgent Action Needed to Prevent Uninhabitable Futures
Climate scientists issue a dire warning – without immediate action, the Caribbean could become nearly uninhabitable.
Some nations like Barbados and Dominica are taking steps, investing in resilient infrastructure, and setting ambitious emissions reduction targets. Substantial global support is essential.
Microcosm of Global Challenges
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean face unique financial constraints, making them vulnerable to climate-induced economic shocks.
The Caribbean economies, often reliant on imports, tourism, and remittances, struggle to fund climate measures, leading to significant debt accumulation.
Soaring Costs of Climate Damage
A 2020 study by Climate Analytics projects that climate damage in the Caribbean will skyrocket from five per cent of regional GDP in 2025 to over 20 per cent by 2100.
Hurricane impacts, like the one in Dominica in 2017, have staggering costs.
Climate Change Impacts Across Industries
The Caribbean struggles with climate challenges across various sectors:
- Agriculture: Rising temperatures, droughts, floods, and storms threaten food security and livestock.
- Infrastructure: Sea-level rise, earthquakes, and extreme weather endanger critical infrastructure.
- Tourism: Climate impacts like reduced rainfall and environmental degradation are affecting the region’s vital tourism industry.
- Biodiversity: Unique ecosystems, including coral reefs, face habitat loss and extinction risks.
Resilience in Action
Examples of Caribbean nations taking action:
Barbados is aiming to eliminate fossil fuels by 2030 and boosting climate resilience with the Roofs to Reefs programme.
Jamaica is setting ambitious emissions reduction targets and investing in energy efficiency and water conservation.
Dominica established the Climate Resilience Execution Agency for Dominica (CREAD) to lead climate resilience efforts.
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in Belize acts as a hub for climate data and policy guidance.
Regional initiatives aim to support Caribbean nations in meeting their Paris Agreement commitments.
Climate Finance Challenges
Access to climate finance is a challenge for Caribbean countries, given their limited eligibility for low-interest loans and aid from multilateral institutions.
They rely on mechanisms like the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility and the Caribbean Development Bank for disaster risk management and debt restructuring.
International Support for climate resilience in the Caribbean
Caribbean nations are part of the Alliance of Small Island States, advocating for their interests in global climate forums.
They played a crucial role in establishing the Loss and Damage Fund during the 2022 UN climate summit.
The United Nations (UN) offers various programmes to assist Caribbean nations in addressing climate change.
European Union and United States (US) Aid
The European Union has invested significantly in disaster preparedness in Latin America and the Caribbean since 1994.
The US, under the Biden administration, established the US-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 (PACC 2030) and allocated over US$100 million in funding to assist Caribbean nations in addressing climate-related challenges.
The Trillion-Dollar Challenge
John Kerry, the US climate envoy, highlights the need for trillions of dollars in international financing for Caribbean nations.