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Award-winning St. Lucian poet Kendel Hippolyte says human beings would treat the environment differently if they see the Earth as their "mother". (Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS)
Award-winning St. Lucian poet Kendel Hippolyte says human beings would treat the environment differently if they see the Earth as their “mother”. (Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS)
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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.

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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.

3 replies on “Caribbean poet issues call to action on climate change”

  1. Good work Kendel on raising an important issue but lets face it if the Americans wont listen to the Pope who was saying exactly the same thing to them directly – only a few weeks ago you think they will listen to us in the small islands? Its good to try but our shouts fall on deaf ears. Its always someone else’s problem so the Americans shout its not us its India and China and other fast developing countries. The big polluters just don’t seem to care and don’t understand that by killing off the oceans we effectively kill the biggest producers of oxygen on our planet (Ocean borne algae – no not the rainforests which are under threat already) then you know what happens next….. Humanity will seriously suffer as a result.

    I recently did some snorkelling around St Vincent which is far from being an industrial country and I was surprised how much coral bleaching/damage has occurred and how much dead coral was present just off the beaches. I am a Dive Master and have dived in the places previously. But I took a camera down with me this time and was less than impressed at the decline in the quality of the corals and fish stocks around Youngs Island and Villa/ Indian Bay. It looked very different from a few years ago.

    The writings on the wall world wake up !

    Keep up the good work but something’s got to give its just a matter of time and I hope its not too late when the rest of the world actually starts to listen and do something about it.

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