Cayman can fight climate change

As the Bali conference on climate change winds down with mixed reviews, the world’s attention is now on the consensus that climate change is not only a reality, but that it needs to be acted on immediately.

As a fitting prequel to last week’s Bali UNFCC global warming talks, local MLA Osbourne Bodden, along with Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, joined 83 parliamentarians from Commonwealth and G8+5 countries from 26 to 30 November at the Houses of Parliament in London for the international parliamentary conference on climate change.

‘I went to the conference not quite knowing what to expect and with limited knowledge of the subject,’ said Mr. Bodden.

‘It turned out to be the best conference I have ever attended since being elected as an MLA.’

Mr. Bodden said it was extremely eye-opening to meet delegates from countries across the world, and deemed the sessions, led by experts in the field of climate change, ‘excellent.’

‘I was left with a sense of urgency for the world to change its ways and do more to control carbon and green house gas emissions as well as deforestation, to reduce the rate of global warming,’ he said.

Mr. Bodden also felt the conference underscored the reality that small island states are more the victims of circumstance than the creators of it.

‘But we too must play our part,’ he said.

Cayman is signed up to the Kyoto protocol and the UNFCCC agreements while the United States as a country, and China, two of the largest contributors to global warming, are not.

At the Bali conference, large industrialized nations like Canada and the United States were stalling progress, and it was not until the 11th hour that the US agreed to sign on to an agreement that they would work toward a new climate change agreement to come into force in 2012.

Observers now feel most of the largest emitting countries will be allowed to carry on as before.

However, at the conference in London, Mr. Bodden says he was given the impression the UK was one industrialized country seen to be making a true effort to cut its emissions to keep the rise of global temperatures to a minimum.

‘To prevent the major effects of global warming from happening, including melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels, the goal is to keep the rise in global temperatures to a maximum of 2 degrees centigrade over the next 50 years, and stabilize CO2 at 450 parts per million, which means an 80 percent CO2 cut by 2050,’ said Mr. Bodden.

‘We are a group of 3 small, flat islands – the impact can be huge for us, and action is needed now for these cuts to become a reality,’ he said.

Much of the technology required to make these carbon emissions cuts is available; what is needed, the conference heard, is the will to make it happen.

A first step for the group was developing a non-binding communiqué to be sent from the conference to Bali

‘As a small island nation, Cayman can do a number of things. These include implementing sensible planning laws, setting up recycling programmes but where it’s really clear is utilizing alternative energy sources, like solar and geothermal, and practicing energy conservation,’ says Mr. Bodden.

The cost of solar is expected to reduce by 70 percent in the next few years. That’s good news for Cayman in the long term, but short-term action is needed right now.

‘Eighty percent of Cayman’s energy comes from fossil fuels. Fuel companies and electricity companies must come on board and help find alternatives, not just in large nations but here. In Cayman we need to enact energy policy and we need emission controls.’

Mr. Bodden suggested a good place to start educating the Cayman public is at the grassroots level through young people.

‘Schools can have incentive programmes and competitions for the students to conserve energy; they must be taught about the danger of climate change and they will assist their parents to do better,’ he said.

But Mr. Bodden laid the issue at the feet of those in power.

‘Government must lead by example by passing sensible legislation and ensuring compliance while making its own properties and resources as ‘green’ as possible,’ he said.

But while Government plays an important role, Mr. Bodden commented that the fight against global warming should be non-partisan.

‘It is good to see that the Leader of Opposition, who also attended the conference, understands the need for us to act together as a country on this matter.’