A delegation of Caribbean tourism officials attending COP21, the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris, are calling for a cap on the world’s temperature rise.
Leaders include Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, chairman of the Caribbean Community, or Caricom, and lead head of government on climate change, and St. Lucia Prime Minister Kenny Anthony, the chairman of Caricom's task force on climate change.
“For small-island developing states like ours, the science has shown that any long-term global temperature increase above 1.5 degrees Celsius would be catastrophic,” Kenny said in a statement.
According to research by the Caricom task force, the world is on track for warming to an average global temperature of at least 3 to 4 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. As a point of reference, in 2014 the global temperature was .75 degrees Celsius, according to NASA.
“We are not the cause of the climate change problems, but we are among its poorest victims,” he said.
Rising sea levels, ocean acidification and coral bleaching, as well as securing funds for climate change adaptation, are the main concerns for the Caribbean, according to Kenny.
He cited the damage done by Tropical Storm Erika on Aug. 27 in Dominica and Hurricane Joaquin on Oct. 1 in the Bahamas as signs of what is to come if the unique circumstances of the Caribbean are not addressed and included as a cornerstone of a new agreement.
“Our cultures, our people and our livelihoods depend on the outcome of the climate change agreement,” he said.
Backing up Caricom’s position is the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), which has called on the global community to support the call for a binding agreement on climate change by the world’s nations.
The CHTA cited Caricom research that points to a major displacement of coastal and urban population centers from a two-degree rise in global temperature.
Many of the region’s beaches, airports, seaports, power plants and roads could disappear or incur significant damage, according to the research.
Land losses from a rise in sea levels in Caricom’s 20-member region would result in the loss of approximately 320,000 acres, equivalent to the combined areas of Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, according to the research.