Fletcher calls for more regional response to climate change
Saint Lucia’s Minister for Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology Dr. James Fletcher has called on CARICOM heads to step up their level of action on issues relating to climate change.
Dr. Fletcher has just returned to Saint Lucia after the successful conclusion of the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, where Small Island Developing States (SIDS) scored a huge victory in getting the conference to agree to the establishment of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage.
This new mechanism will operate under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and will allow the convention to address loss and damage from extreme weather events and slow onset events like sea level rise, which for years SIDS have argued extends beyond the scope of adaptation.
Speaking on the Caribbean’s own response to addressing climate change, Dr. Fletcher said the island grouping has not demonstrated ‘a big enough commitment’ to climate change: “We did very well for a while when Grenada chaired the Alliance of Small Island States. There was definite leadership coming from the Caribbean. I think some of that leadership has been lost and there is a lot we have to do at our level.”
Dr. Fletcher would like to work towards getting the issue of climate change to be “the subject of greater discussion within our Cabinets and at the highest levels of our government”, adding that he does not believe “all of our policymakers understand the repercussions of climate change”.
Moreover, he acknowledges that there needs to be more discourse with the public about the adverse effects of climate change.
“We are also not having enough of that conversation with members of our public. The members of the public are not seized of the importance and urgency of climate change. [And] that’s where I think the regional response needs to kick in.”
Dr. Fletcher noted that he is presently working with other authorities regionally and internationally to have 2014 recognised as “Climate Change Awareness” year for the Caribbean.