Alva Suckoo reads documents prior to the beginning of the port referendum debate on Monday. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Local legislators have approved a private members’ motion calling for the creation of a climate change policy for the Cayman Islands.

The motion, brought by Newlands MLA Alva Suckoo, was debated as the last order of business during Friday’s Legislative Assembly sitting.

Suckoo stressed the need for a policy since it is a critical concern for these islands which are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

“This could be viewed as a political thing, but it’s not. It is a genuine effort by all of us because it is a real threat to our very existence in the long term. Most of us have young children who depend on decisions we make here today [Friday] to secure their future and their children’s future,” Suckoo said during closing of the debate.

Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour acknowledged the need for the policy. A draft policy was previously created, but he said it never advanced for adoption by the government.

“Given the time that has passed since that draft policy was produced, this draft policy now needs to be updated,” Seymour told the LA.

He pointed out that the model used to produce, for example, predictions for temperature changes, rising sea levels and rainfall, also needed to be revisited to take into account the acceleration in climate change that has recently been documented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Seymour said government considers climate change to be a very important issue, given Cayman’s potential vulnerability and the significant possible impact across a wide range of areas.

“A paper is being prepared to be presented to the National Security Council outlining what steps the Cayman Islands government should be taking to address climate change,” he added.

The issue, Seymour said, is also a priority for the UK, and it will form part of the discussions at this year’s Joint Ministerial Council meeting in March.

He also told lawmakers that an energy policy coordinator, Kristen Augustine, was appointed last October and she is working with government entities on a facility audit of all government-owned buildings.

“She has also been working on an RFQ [Request For Quotations] to obtain the cost of an energy audit which will provide information on the buildings that would benefit from the installation of solar,” Seymour added.

Prospect MLA Austin Harris also highlighted what he called government’s commitment to a “cleaner, greener Cayman”.

He said a planning application was submitted last month for a carport with a solar panel array for the Government Administration Building. He added that it is anticipated that the construction will be completed by the third quarter of this year.

George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan shared a copy of a document he called a ‘parliamentarian’s toolkit on climate change’, which he received during his recent trip to Uganda for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting.

In it, he said, were a number of resources and information about what Commonwealth countries were doing to work together to access funding in an effort to address climate change strategies from a parliamentary perspective.

Suckoo welcomed the government’s initiatives and all contributions to the debate.

“The Cayman Islands is still a young nation,” he said. “We’re still developing, we still have a long way to go. I think, collectively, we can give our country the best opportunity to survive, to nurture us and to sustain us, and to continue to grow into its full potential.”