Minister of the Environment, Dr Denis Lowe, has said it is costing the Government of Barbados millions of dollars to deal with the impact of climate change.
Speaking at this year’s climate change conference, the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, Dr Lowe said changing weather patterns have been affecting Barbados in the past few years, and Government was taking steps to deal with the impact.
“We’ve been noticing, for example, a significant amount of beach erosion. It’s costing the Government of Barbados, at least in this cycle, about US$80 million just to fix some of our coastlines. We’ve seen some impact as it relates to drought. This year has been a year characterized by a tremendous shortage of rainfall [and] that has impacted on our crops and we anticipate that that will continue,” Lowe said.
He added: “Even though the hurricane season has not been unkind to us, we nonetheless anticipate that as we go forward that we’re going to see a lot more erratic weather, we will see weather patterns that are inconsistent with our history and therefore we are preparing ourselves in advance to treat to those issues when they happen.
“And then of course there are a number of other effects that are taking place that we are concerned about in the Ministry of the Environment and we’re trying to advance and develop programmes to counter those impacts,” Dr Lowe said ahead of discussions on the second draft agreement to curb global warming.
Dr Lowe, who co-chaired talks on rising sea temperatures, noted that this is a major concern for Barbados and other low-lying countries because of the impact on the environment and the economy.
He said developing states were hoping to convince larger countries to limit any further increase in greenhouse gas emissions to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“We feel that although this is marginal, it will keep us at the survival end of things,” he said.
However, he was optimistic that the world’s advanced economies are getting the message that action must be taken to reduce the effects of climate change, especially on vulnerable countries.
“I am getting a sense that the world community is getting a sense of the urgency of the CARICOM concern. We noticed that the conversation has now reached the stage where other world leaders are talking close to where we want to be at.
“It has been a contentious issue over the years and I think we’ve come at a good place now in the conversation relative to the world accepting the legitimacy of our concern, accepting the science upon which it is based, and realizing that the region has every right to be very stout in its advocacy for that particular outcome,” Dr Lowe said.
He noted however, that individuals can make lifestyle changes to make a difference in addressing climate change.
“We have to do all things differently in terms of how we manage our efficiency levels and utilization of electricity. In terms of how much driving we do, and when we can avoid driving our own vehicles and take public transport. Because the more vehicles we put on the street, the more greenhouse gases we emit and the greater the impact will be on the environment and on climate change,” Lowe said.