Caribbean States Urge Trump to Reconsider Paris Climate Deal
Leaders in the region say the future of the islands depends on a unified action.
Caribbean states and territories are pleading with President Donald Trump to rejoin the Paris climate agreement.
Warming temperatures and increased precipitation caused by greenhouse gas emissions is strengthening hurricanes, according to researchers, and dismantling the US’ response to climate change is a direct threat to the future of the tropical locales, reported the Guardian.
“In 2017 we saw some of the most devastating and destructive hurricanes we’ve seen in our history,” said Selwin Hart, Barbados’ ambassador to the US, in an interview with the Guardian. “This needs to be recognized. This isn’t some scientific debate, it’s a reality with loss of life implications. We need the US to be back at the table and engage. It’s imperative. We wouldn’t have a Paris climate agreement without the US and we need them back now.”
Hurricanes Irma and Maria had a devastating impact on Barbuda, Saint Martin, Barbados, and Puerto Rico last fall, resulting in thousands of deaths and ongoing homelessness and food insecurity issues, noted the report.
“Even before the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, we could already see the effects of coastal erosion, and even the loss of some islands,” said Ricardo Rossello, governor of Puerto Rico, in an interview with the Guardian.
The US territory, along with New York and California, has committed to addressing climate change independent of the federal government.
“Puerto Rico remains in a more vulnerable situation than other states,” Rossello went on. “It is expected that some of the initial effects of climate change will be seen in Puerto Rico.”
Those sentiments were echoed by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center last month, discussing the impact of the Trump administration cutting funding for climate change research in an interview with the New Yorker.
“Our area is one of the most exposed to risks,” Zadie Neufville, a spokesperson for the center, said in an interview in Belmopan, Belize. “In order to live here comfortably and host tourists, we have to mitigate, build resilience, and adapt.”
At that time, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, accused the Trump administration of making the cuts as a way to increase profits for the fossil fuel industry.
“Powerful coal, oil, and gas interests wield enormous influence in Washington, especially with Republicans in the White House and Congress,” Leahy said in an email to The New Yorker. “If the United States, a major contributor to global warming, does not lead by example, we will have failed what is perhaps the most important test of our generation regarding the Earth’s future habitability.”
The foreign minister of the Bahamas agreed.
“The US is a major player in the world and it needs to lead, we depend on it to be a moral voice on issues where people are vulnerable,” said Darren Henfield, foreign minister of the Bahamas, in the Guardian report. “We really hope the US readjusts its position. It seems there will be doubters until we start completely losing islands.”
Flattened homes, smashed water pipes, hospitals without power, wrecked schools, and ruined crops throughout the island of Dominica represent exactly what the future may hold if the US does not reverse course, noted the report.
“There is little time left for action,” said Roosevelt Skerrit, prime minister of Dominica, in a UN address last September. “While the big countries talk, the small island nations suffer. We need action and we need it now.”