Climate change will be among the priorities of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves during his six-month chairmanship of CARICOM, which began on Jan. 1.
Speaking in the wake of the devastating floods and landslides in St. Vincent, Dominica and St. Lucia, Gonsalves said climate change is a big, existential issue.
The floods claimed almost 20 lives and left extensive damage in the three Windward Islands.
“We are having systems affecting us outside of the normal rainy season and the normal hurricane season,” he said, noting the April 2011 floods, and the Christmas Eve trough system in St. Vincent.
“And there are lots of monies which countries talk about for adaptation and mitigation to climate change, but I haven’t seen the money yet,” Gonsalves said.
“And we have to use our diplomacy as a region, and we have to be aggressive with our climate change centre in Belize.
“And in my term as chairman of CARICOM, this is one of the issues … that I want dealt with … in a continually structured way and to lift it, has to do with the deleterious effects of climate change and to get the requisite responses from the international community in relation to this matter,” Gonsalves said.
“Because we don’t contribute anything to these manmade weather systems, these problems with putting so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We are the minimist in that regard, but we are on the frontline. That is an issue which is big, but that’s for another discussion,” Gonsalves said.