From: The Jamaica Observer
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
St Lucia will host a meeting of Caribbean Community (Caricom) ministers responsible for climate change next month.
The meeting comes ahead of the global conference on the subject in Denmark in December but officials say the meeting in Castries has assumed greater importance in the wake of a World Bank report listing six Caribbean countries as being among the most vulnerable to rising sea levels in the world.
The six are the Bahamas and Suriname, listed as the most vulnerable, Guyana, Jamaica, Belize and Haiti.
The bank study said Caribbean countries will suffer loses to the tune of US$11 billion by 2080 as the globe heats up, as ice melts and heads towards low lying states.
The September 14-16 meeting is intended to develop a unified Caribbean position for the conference and will fine tune plans to get the world to pay attention to the vulnerability of the region to rising sea levels as most of the tourism and other infrastructure are on the regional sea coast.
"The rising sea level is the key point for us and should be the sleeper topic at the meeting," said CARICOM spokesman Garfield Barnwell in reference to the United Nations climate change summit
in Copenhagen in December that is expected to be a controversial as other global summits on the topic in recent years.
Most Caribbean hotels, tourist resorts and even government buildings are located near the sea shore. With predictions that low-lying coastal states are going to be significantly affected, the region
wants the topic to be accorded greater importance at the conference said Barnwell.
Caricom is also expected to push for annual compensation for avoided deforestation. Guyana, Suriname and Belize are the ones with significant forest cover and have a vested interest in this area in addition to discussions on sea level rise.
Guyana, the largest of the three, has already said that it estimates the value of its still standing forests at US$580 million annually and expects annuity payments to that amount as its contribution to low carbon emissions. But officials say that while the lobby for forest compensation is laudable, increased focus should be paid to sea level rise "as you cannot stop the water from coming in and destroying