Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders have launched an ambitious plan to create the world’s first “climate smart zone” after two Category 5 hurricanes caused widespread devastation and death in the Lesser Antilles in September.
The Caribbean Climate-Smart Coalition aims to find a way to break through the systemic obstacles that stop finance flowing to climate-smart investments.
The leaders are of the opinion that with the right domestic and international reforms, the world can step up – and help unleash the means to catalyse an ambitious eight billion US dollar investment plan to bring greater energy and infrastructure resilience to 3.2 million Caribbean households.
They said this would help Caribbean islands to eliminate their costly dependency on fossil fuels so that they can meet close to 100 per cent of their energy needs from renewable sources, and to embed resilience into communities and livelihoods to realise the bold ambitions of all Caribbean people.
The announcement of the new initiative was made at the One Planet Summit being hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron to review progress made on the Paris Agreement adopted by global governments two years ago.
Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, who is also the chairman of the 15-member Caribbean Community grouping, said “Caribbean leaders have come together as a powerful collective to build a better future for the people of the Caribbean.
“We welcome the financial commitments from our partners – around US$1.3 billion for recovery efforts and US$2.8 billion toward the vision shared by all members of the Coalition and others.
“This is a great first step. Now we need to turn this possibility into a set of realities that benefit all our people. We all need to work together to change the rules of the game to accelerate climate-smart financial flows for the Caribbean and other small island developing states.
“Together we can build thriving economies fuelled by clean energy, nature-based resilient design and innovation. The time for action is now,’ Mitchell said.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, whose island, Dominica, was severely hit by Hurricane Maria on September 18, resulting in millions of dollars in damage, said that ”despite the immense human suffering and economic damage caused by the recent hurricanes, the people of the Caribbean do not want to be just passive victims of climate change.
“Rather, they want to be active participants in designing and implementing solutions, and for their Caribbean region to serve as a beacon of hope for island nations all over the world,” he added.