National climate change policy advances

Cayman could
have its own climate change policy by early next year.

Participants
in a workshop last week drafted a White Paper that will form the basis of a
national climate change policy to address the impact of global warming and
rising sea levels on Cayman’s society, economy and environment.

If passed,
the policy would be implemented by a full-time high-level council and financed
with the help of a trust fund board, according to environmental law expert
George de Romilly, who gave a summary of the work of the two-day conference.

“We want to
put in place mechanisms to make sure the policy is effectively implemented.
That has two key elements. One is a high-level climate change council with
broad representation both from government and the private sector and academia
and youth [organisations].

“The second
one is a climate change trust fund board, a public/private sector initiative to
raise money to actually implement the policy, recognising in tight economic
times that if we don’t really show the government how we are going to do this
and provide the resources to make it happen, it becomes, unfortunately, just
another policy which cannot be implemented because we don’t have the
resources,” Mr. de Romilly said.

Participants
in the workshop, representing several government departments, authorities and
ministries, as well as from conservation organisations and the private sector,
dissected and discussed a Green Paper, which had evolved from two years of
consultations and which set out the issues, risks and priorities to be
addressed in order to develop an appropriate policy.

By the end of
the conference, the group had developed a 20-page draft White Paper, which will
be subject to public and peer consultation before being sent to Cabinet early
next year. Mr. de Romilly said he hoped the policy could be passed by April
2011, which will mark the end of a three-year programme called the Enhancing
Capacity for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Caribbean UK Overseas
Territories, or ECACC.

He said the
consensus of the group was to “facilitate a transition to low-carbon,
climate-resilient development, which is very much what the British government
is very keen to promote worldwide”.

He pointed
out that implementing policies is dependent on funding and resources. One of
the challenges faced by Cayman and other British overseas territories is that
they are not eligible for European Union or United Nations funding for climate
change programmes.

Governor
Duncan Taylor, who made closing remarks at the workshop on Friday, 3 December,
said the UK minister of state for the Department of Energy and Climate, Greg
Barker, had been given an undertaking to press the EU and the UN to fund
climate change initiatives in British Overseas Territories.

This would
enable “Overseas Territories in the Caribbean to have equal access to funding
from UN programmes, as do the independent countries in the Caribbean”, the
governor said.

Mr. Taylor
said politicians often find it difficult to address climate change issues
because most of them operate on a four- or five-year cycle, between elections,
and their key aim is to get the economy moving and generate employment during
that time.

“We all
recognise that the problems coming from climate change, and some are here
already, are extremely serious – probably the most serious threat to the planet
– but there still seems to be quite a long time frame, and for politicians
generally it can be very difficult,” he said.

“We need to
have leaders say ‘We need to take decisions now that are going to help us later
and our children and future generations’. The political cycles in democracies
can make that quite difficult,”
he said.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I think political opinion and action is lagging behind the science a bit here.

    The scientific ‘consensus’ on global warming – if it ever existed in reality at all – has well and truly collapsed.

    I don’t think Cayman should be rushing to bankrupt itself dealing with a problem which probably doesn’t exist.

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