While Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and his Caribbean Community colleagues have touted the region’s role in helping to secure a global climate change agreement late last year, a top Government official here is unhappy with the Caribbean’s efforts to combat the weather phenomenon.
Chief Agricultural Officer Lennox Chandler told participants at a drought mitigation seminar this morning, Caribbean countries were not “as serious as we should be” in confronting climate change.
Chandler said while there were those who would argue that a lot had been done, he had yet to see the evidence.
“Based on my observations, it is my opinion that we in the region have not been as aggressive as we should be, or as serious as we should be in tackling and taking steps to address the issue of climate change, neither on specific fronts or addressing it on a wider scale, in terms of plans or policies to mitigate issues relating to climate change,” Chandler contended.
“I’m certain there will be dissenting voices and people will argue that they have done a lot, but by my way of thinking I haven’t seen those things happening on the ground.”
The agricultural official said despite glaring evidence of its impact, including droughts and rising sea levels, there were some “ignorant” people who refused to accept that climate change was real.
In fact, right at home, he charged, there were those who turned a blind eye to the reality despite prolonged water shortages which affected people, livestock and crop production.
“Here in Barbados we are experiencing issues related to climate change, such as water woes for those people who live in the north . . . and other water issues. [However], persons continually scoff at the idea of the phenomenon of climate change and for various reasons. Some reasons are religious reasons and some people are just ignorant of the subject on the whole, but people continue to say that climate change is not a reality.
“But those of us who are grounded in reality are cognizant of the fact that climate change is occurring right before our very eyes in different ways and has manifested itself globally,” Chandler stressed.
He disclosed that the Ministry of Agriculture was not prepared to drag its feet on the issue any longer and would soon establish a special unit to tackle matters related to the global phenomenon.
“As the Chief Agricultural Officer it is my intention to take this climate change matter very seriously and with that in view, I want to say that one of the early orders of business for me will be establishing a unit in the Ministry of Agriculture to focus specifically on climate change issues,” Chandler said at the seminar at the Baobab Tower at Warrens, St Michael.
He said someone had already been identified to head the unit “because we have to show that we are serious about climate change and we are doing something practical on the ground” to address the issue as it related to agriculture. (RB)