CASTRIES, St. Lucia — Award-winning St. Lucian poet, Kendel Hippolyte, says the arts can make us act, and we need action in response to the threats, the realities of climate change”.
The made the point while speaking at the launch of a Caribbean campaign on Climate Justice last week.
The purpose of the campaign — dubbed #1point5tostayalive — is to raise awareness, momentum and popular support in favour of the Caribbean’s negotiating position in the lead-up to the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Paris in December.
“The message is 1.5 to stay alive,” said St. Lucia’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science, and Technology, Sen. James Fletcher.
“The Caribbean needs a legally binding global agreement that keeps temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the year 2100,” he added.
The minister, who is also patron of the campaign, said the Caribbean also wants this agreement to provide adequate, predictable and accessible climate financing to support adaptation, mitigation and other climate change-related needs in poor and vulnerable countries, including small island states.
Climate impacts — including elevated temperatures, sea level rise, changing rainfall patterns, more intense droughts, storms, and ocean acidification — all pose grave risks to coastal lands, water supply, agriculture, biodiversity, fisheries and other sectors and assets. But it goes beyond this. Climate change threatens the very existence of some Caribbean islands.
“These are pretty serious issues,” noted Hippolyte. “We need to tell the world what we feel and what we want.”
The poet, who has a long history of engagement in social and environmental justice, called on “musicians, painters, dancers, writers, all artists to become involved in this campaign by using their arts, their shows, their websites, their Facebook accounts and their concerts” in the coming weeks, to join the call of Panos Caribbean and its partners for Climate Justice for the Caribbean.
In particular, he called for participation in a weekend of action on Oct. 31 to Dec. 1, exactly a month prior to the start of the Paris Conference.
The 1point5tostayalive campaign is a joint effort of Panos Caribbean; St. Lucia’s Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology; the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, the Regional Council of Martinique, and the Caribbean Development Bank.