Cayman students return from climate change conference

Protect our Future members Connor Childs, Olivia Zimmer and Steff Mcdermot recently attended the United Nations COP 25 Climate Conference earlier this month in Madrid, Spain, and have since returned to Cayman hoping to share their views on the effects of climate change.

Childs, a Cayman International School student, said there were many impactful speakers at the conference, but the most impressive for him was former US Secretary of State John Kerry.

“He talked about how small islands nations, just like us, are already experiencing the impact of sea level rise and they can’t even stop any more, they are just moving to the mainland, and the entire time I was just thinking to myself ‘that’s going to be us really soon if we don’t make change quick,’” Childs said.

“It was also really empowering and impactful to see so many different people from so many walks of life come together and unite over a certain issue that we are all going to face in the end,” Zimmer said.

Childs said some adaptable solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change that he learned about at the conference include using rooftop spaces for solar power.

“I know there isn’t really much space, but rooftops of buildings – as much space as we possibly can – to use solar … it should be used up,” Childs said.

Zimmer said natural resources like mangroves and coral reefs need to be preserved to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“If we protect what we have rather than tearing them down, that’s one thing I’d like to highlight in Cayman, because we have what we need. We just need to utilise it in the proper ways,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer’s biggest takeaway from the summit was that time is running out worldwide to give full attention to this issue.

“After meeting with a lot of different people, my biggest takeaway was that we don’t have the time a lot of big nations think we have, because climate change is happening now, it’s happening in the smaller nations,” she said.

Mcdermot said the next step for activism is meeting with key stakeholders in the energy and conservation sector to gather the facts about what is happening locally in regards to climate change.

“They know the facts. They have done the research. They have pushed out the reports. They have timelines. They have strategies. They have solutions ready to go, but for some reason they’re unable to move forward and that’s where we come in,” Mcdermot said.

Mcdermot questioned whether the ministers in government are aware of the adaptable solutions, not just available globally, but locally as well.

“Why are all these civil servants so ready to move forward with these programmes but why is nothing happening? So I feel like our position as youth activists is to pressure the government to listen to their employees, listen to the experts that they have hired, to really act out on what they have been advised to do,” Mcdermot said.

The organisations that made it possible for the students to partake in the conference were The Cayman Islands National Trust and the International National Trust Organisation. Funding was also provided by Caribbean Utilities Company, Peripheral, and the Flower’s Group.

Steff Mcdermot, Olivia Zimmer, and Connor Childs return from Climate change summit in Madrid. Photo by: Carolina Lopez