To Deal with the Impact of Climate Change, Life Cannot Continue to Be Same

Dr James Fletcher

by Linda Straker

Dr James Fletcher, a regional climate change negotiator, has warned that Caribbean political leaders need to take the lead and let people know that as part of adaptation and mitigation measures to deal with the impact of climate change, life cannot continue to be same.

“There are somethings that they will have to tell people that they can no longer do,” said Fletcher during a presentation on the topic ‘Climate Change, the Caribbean and the Paris Agreement: Inextricably linked.’  His presentation in Grenada was at the conclusion of a lecture series organised by the British High Commission in collaboration with territories with active Chevening Scholarship associations. The other islands where the presentation was conducted were St Lucia, St Kitts and Barbados.

Persons at the climate change presentation

Suggesting some recommendations that people will have to adapt, Dr Fletcher said that some regional states might have to force the changes onto citizens by approving legislation to make the recommendations mandatory and enforceable.

“Our governments may need to legislate as policy something like rainwater harvesting because we will just have to encourage our people to do rainwater harvesting if we are to effectively deal with the expected harsh dry seasons that are predicted to occur during the dry season because of climate change,” he said. Dr Fletcher is of the opinion that homeowners should also consider installing dual plumbing systems so that treated water is used more wisely, while non-treated water can be used in toilets, watering gardens and washing down vehicles.

Fletcher, who is a former minister of the government in St Lucia, also suggested that among the measures of adaptation, is the need for governments to develop and implement effective land use policies, installing early warning systems, and confront the challenges in waste management.

“We have to plan for more intense hurricanes, but people must also accept the fact that the damages done by flooding are not only one link directly to climate change, but is mixed with self-inflicted wounds as a result of traditional habit.” He explained that dumping household waste into rivers and streams is one of the main reasons why overflowing is occurring, and that kind of cause-and-effect can be avoided if people just stop engaging in the practice.

The former director of the Social and Sustainable Development at the OECS Secretariat said that there funds available from any sources for regional governments to receive grants to undertake projects as it relates to climate change, but because of the lack of data in the area, it is difficult to make strong arguments to be awarded the funds.

“We in the region need to adopt an evidence-based culture by gathering data and attaching the results or findings when we are submitting for grants proposals: that is what will speak for us, not the traditional knowledge of how it used to be. These agencies want to see the evidence as to why the claims are linked to climate change,” he said.

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