The UK hopes to play a bigger role in driving global action on climate change, Governor Martyn Roper has said.

The governor told the Cayman Compass that the world is at a ‘tipping point’, with potentially catastrophic implications for small islands.

The UK is hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland, next year and Roper said the UK was hoping to galvanise the world to do a better job of limiting global warming. He said it was imperative for small islands like Cayman that the global community reduce green house gases.

Though Cayman is likely too small to make a significant impact on its own in that respect, he said there would be technical support from the UK as needed in areas like renewable energy.

Climate change is becoming an increasing concern for young people in Cayman.

He believes the islands and other overseas territories, which will discuss the issue at the next Joint Ministerial Council in November, can also play a role in spelling out the consequences of inaction on climate change.

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Citing data that shows natural disasters cost Caribbean countries $52 billion between 1950 and 2014 and projections that the impact of such disasters would increase in the coming years, he said it was imperative that action was taken.

He said the UK is trying to lead the way and to ensure that the targets of the Paris agreement – to keep the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C – are met.

“The world is at a tipping point,” he said. “The global temperature going up by 2 degrees would be a disaster for many countries, including Cayman.”

The UK’s increased invovlement in global leadership in this area could also mean technical support for Cayman to improve its own resilience to the impacts of climate change, the governor said.

He was speaking to the Compass in a broad-ranging interview that also covered the second lockdown and vaccine development in the UK.

The governor also spoke about recent developments locally, including the passage of the Defence Bill and amendments to the constitution.

Governor Martyn Roper

Here is what he had to say…

On the regiment:

Roper said the UK had helped provide expertise and training to establish the regiment, which will ultimately have around 8 permanent staff and up to 175 ‘reservists’.

He said it was not an army but a ‘reserve force’ that would be trained to provide humanitarian aid and logistic support in times of crisis.

“This is Cayman’s regiment. The UK has no political, economic or security objective in mind. It is simply an effort to support Cayman and the region in increasing resilience in the case of hurricanes and other natural disasters.”

On the constitutional changes:

The UK Privy Council meets on 11 Nov., when Roper expects it to rubber-stamp constitutional changes for the Cayman Islands. Among other things, the changes facilitate a name change for the Legislative Assembly to become a parliament.

The governor said the changes were more than simply symbolic and set in stone Cayman’s autonomy on domestic affairs. Some of the practical changes also include the right to establish a police service commission and the right to be consulted on any Orders in Council being contemplated by the UK.

What the changes don’t do is remove the right for the UK to legislate for Cayman and other territories in certain circumstances through those Orders in Council.

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  1. Climate Change is an existential threat to the entire world. Especially to us here in the Cayman Islands.

    The harsh reality however is that China produces 53% of the world’s greenhouse gases. More than the USA, Europe and the Caribbean added together.

    Under the terms of the Paris Accord China is entitled to continue to increase their share of greenhouse gases for several more years. Indeed they are continuing to BUILD coal fired generators.

    It was this unfairness that prompted Trump to pull out of it.

    Unless China changes course the rest of the world can do little to make a difference.

    Truly heart breaking.