Climate change is not a myth. Scientists have blamed the increase in temperature on green-house gas emissions. For years, the United Nations has recognized the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the ecosystem and has established a framework to facilitate discourse on climate change.
Seemingly, today there is more urgency for discussions surrounding climate change, its causes and impacts, and in establishing mitigation and adaptive strategies. At the Paris Conference on climate change in 2015, the aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has resulted in a series of regulations by the United States and other countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two degrees Celsius by 2030.
For the first time, there has been an agreement to address the phenomenon of climate change. The Paris Agreement is the world’s first legally binding plan to deal with climate change with the goal of attaining very low carbon emissions.
Led by the United States, more than 175 countries have signed the agreement as of April this year. Despite the initiatives by the US, some Americans remain skeptical and are even oblivious of the climate change phenomenon.
At the 2015 Paris Conference, the Obama administration was instrumental in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28 percent by 2030. President Barack Obama believes that global warming is one of the most urgent challenges of our time. The aim is to make the USA the global leader in the fight against climate change. The US has the largest economy in the world followed by China and correspondingly the two are the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases. Together both countries contribute 38 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
The fact that the US and China ratified the Paris Climate Agreement influenced several other countries to do likewise. President Donald Trump however, reversed the US position when he opted to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. He said that he did not believe in climate change.
In fact, 34 percent of Americans believe that climate change is a hoax and 57 percent disbelieve the UN scientists claim on climate change.
As fate would have it two Atlantic Hurricanes hit the United States within a few days of each other. The toll of death and destruction is astronomical. The very hurricanes ravaged the Caribbean rendering some island states uninhabitable. Climate change has been blamed.
The commitment of the remaining countries to reducing greenhouse gas emissions has had a positive impact on the UN initiative.
The smaller countries around the world emit less greenhouse gas and contribute less to climate change and global warming. Yet they are the ones that are most vulnerable to the impact of climate due to their size, location and their inability to finance adaptive and mitigating strategies. This is understood as these countries have less resources and lower manufacturing capabilities, compared to the larger ones.
The question that comes to the forefront is: What impact will climate change have on Guyana and the Caribbean? In Guyana, there is evidence of receding shorelines; prolonged drought; heavy rainfall resulting in flooding, change in rainfall patterns and a rise in the ocean temperature and sea level as well as more dangerous and intense rain storms.
The Caribbean region is at risk from climate change because of its dependency on tourism to fuel its economy.
For decades, tourism has been the lifeblood of the region’s economies due to decline in agriculture and bauxite, among other traditional industries. Tourism has become the main attraction for visitors to the region and foreign currency earnings for the islands, therefore, any impact by climate change could be devastating to the region’s economy, as the resources on which tourism depends will be destroyed over a period of time.
In Jamaica, Barbados and the smaller Caribbean islands, climate change has led to receding shorelines; droughts; heavy rainfall resulting in flooding and category five hurricanes such as Irma.
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