A workshop to help develop a national climate change policy is being held in Cayman this week to discuss a draft document, or Green Paper, on climate change.
Cayman’s National Climate Change Committee is hosting the forum, which runs today (Thursday, 2 December) and Friday, 3 December.
The Green Paper looks at the potential implications of climate change for the Cayman Islands’ economic, social and environmental sectors, and also seeks to highlight how Cayman can curb greenhouse gas emissions.
It also identifies how mitigation measures can be integrated into existing plans, and it takes into consideration cost-effective methods in achieving national adaptation and mitigation goals.
Organisers hope discussions will pave the way to the formulation of a draft policy that would be submitted to Cabinet early next year.
In an introduction to the Green Paper, the chairwoman of the National Climate Change Committee, Gina Ebanks-Petrie, said the document is expected “to provide the basis on which action plans to accompany the policy will be developed … and will set the stage for further strategic planning toward a lower carbon future.”
She said much work still needs to be done to develop a climate change policy that is “consistent with national development goals and shared priorities, while recognising critical areas where a departure from the status quo will be required to safeguard the survival and continued prosperity of these Islands”.
The committee points out in the Green Paper that although Caribbean countries contribute less than 0.1 per cent to global greenhouse gas emissions, they will be among the earliest and most adversely affected by climate change because of their small size, relative isolation, concentration of communities and infrastructure in coastal areas, narrow economic base, dependence on natural resources, susceptibility to external shocks and limited financial, technical and institutional capacity.
“Exposure to current weather-related hazards and other climate variability compound these vulnerabilities …,” according to the document.
Small island nations are already seeing heavier rainfall and more frequent flooding of settlements, resulting in health concerns, as well as longer dry spells that are bringing more frequent droughts affecting water resources needed for agriculture and consumption.
Statistics for Cayman over show that the lowest annual rainfall total recorded was 35.61 inches in 1997 and the highest 84.5 inches in 1979. Since 1979, there has been a decrease in the annual amount of rainfall by approximately 0.04 inches.
The report states that while the Earth has warmed on average by 0.74°C (ranging from 0.56°C to 0.92°C) over the last 100 years, the warming in the Caribbean of 2°C over the same period has been well above this global mean temperature. Generally, wetter winter conditions have prevailed in the Northern Caribbean, which includes the Cayman Islands, compared to the southern and eastern Caribbean.