On May 9th about 40 heads of state, top level officials, and organization heads from the Caribbean met for the Caribbean Climate Summit. This summit marked a high level meeting to discuss the impact of climate change on the region as well as what steps can be taken to prevent the worst of it. These talks come ahead of the climate summit which will be taking place in Paris later this year, and French leadership played a central role at the summit.
The Caribbean is a region with a high vulnerability to climate change. Extreme weather, ocean acidification, sea level rise, and coastal erosion represent some of the biggest problems that the Caribbean will have to deal with. The Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Perry Christie, illustrated this vulnerability by pointing out that if the sea level rises by one meter, then “80 percent of the Bahamas will disappear.” Climate change will likely also have a detrimental impact on the tourism industry, a vital component of the Caribbean economy.
French President Francois Hollande, representing Martinique and other overseas French territories in the Caribbean, told leaders at the summit that the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund, which is attempting to secure $10 billion in funding before the climate summit in Paris, will be an important tool in protecting the industries of the vulnerable region. The region of island nations represent unique vulnerabilities to climate change, as well as unique problems in the establishment of infrastructure to protect the small nations from the impact of climate change. Funding and support from larger nations is going to be an important component for preparing the region.
Also discussed at the summit were the plans of the nations to convert to renewable sources of energy. The Caribbean, a region with already high energy costs, represents one of the few areas of the world where renewables are cost competitive with fossil fuel energy. The Regional Council at Martinique unveiled a plan to have the island powered by 100% renewable energy by 2030.
The Caribbean is a region that is disproportionately affected by climate change. It contributes very little to greenhouse gases, but is extremely vulnerable. The Caribbean cannot deal with climate change on its own, and will require the help from the major powers. If the region suffers from extreme disasters, coastal erosion, population displacement, food insecurity, and other threats of climate change then it will become a source of insecurity for the U.S.
Further Reading on ASP’s Climate Security work:
Climate Security Report: