Looking To Paris For Our Very Survival

We are now mere days away from what could easily be described as the most important gathering for the year — the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the 196 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

At the 30th Nov. to 11th Dec. meeting in Paris, it is imperative that parties sign a legally-binding accord to keep human-induced global temperature rise within levels that science says will avert catastrophic climate change. This is important for many reasons.

My country, Antigua & Barbuda, and its Caribbean neighbours, already among the most vulnerable of Small States, face an even greater threat from climate change and global warming. This phenomenon is having a material effect on the integrity of our countries.

The effects will have far-reaching consequences for us. Food insecurity is sure to become a bigger problem; marine health is being compromised; the health of our people is being impacted; and there is increased salinization of our already limited ground-water resources as a result of Sea Level Rise (SLR).

So for us, climate change represents a threat to our normal existence.

Our position in the Caribbean is that we have to limit global-temperature increases to below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Anything above 1.5 degrees Celsius will cause catastrophic SLR; will cause warming of our oceans; will cause acidification of our oceans, which will impact our fisheries and impact our tourism sector; and will result in a reduction in potable water availability. This has impacts for agriculture, for ordinary lives, for availability and accessibility to fresh water.

In 2013, after months of persistent drought, our main water catchment — Potworks Dam — dried up. We are now 27 months into the drought and with the dry season set to start in a few days, there are no signs of it letting —> Read More