The Climate Change Committee
March 20, 2007
ONE week ago, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud re-launched the National Climate Change Committee.
Chaired by environmental consultant, Mr. Shyam Nokta, the NCCC represents the first notable step since the establishment of its now defunct predecessor twelve years ago to have a national approach to a worsening global problem.
Of course, climate control has had an increasing prominence on the international radar for the past couple of years. According to a 2005 article by Sir Ronald Sanders, the shift in the global temperature levels over the previous decade meant serious economic devastation for the region.
“Over the years between 1995 and 2004,” wrote Sanders, “hurricane damage in the Caribbean has run into billions of dollars, making the region poorer, setting back the economies of these countries and creating other untold problems such as migration of badly-needed trained workers who lost employment, and relocation of some companies.
There is now growing evidence of the link between climate change and hurricanes both in the Caribbean and the United States. A recent report in ‘The Economist’ revealed that there were long terms trends in the North Atlantic that show an increase both in the number of storms and the length of time they last. As ‘The Economist’ put it: “That is unfortunate news for Caribbean countries and the United States which bear the brunt of these storms”.”
Of course, recent events have provided a greater impetus to the movement against climate change, most notably the popularity of Al Gore’s The Inconvenient Truth and the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) citing what it referred to as “unequivocal evidence” that human activity does impact on global warming.
While it is arguable that Guyana has been aware of the climate change issue for quite some time – as evidenced by the previous Climate Change Committee – the establishment of this new committee, with its enhanced mandate will have to be much more than a conceptual talk shop. From Minister Persaud’s comments on the launching on the tasks to be carried out by the committee – from forming linkages with similar bodies to exploring Guyana’s carbon credit options – the establishment of a talk shop committee does not seem likely.
It shows some fairly innovative thinking on the part of the new Minister of Agriculture, and represents the sort of concrete action in this crucial area that has been lacking in an administration that has shown a penchant for progressive thinking in several key areas, particularly dealing with agriculture. Our coastal agricultural-based economy is in direct danger from the effects of global climate change, something we have not been aggressively highlighting in the past.
Confronting the fact of climate change is a crucial first step in correcting the damage done by years of obfuscation and meandering by the leaders of the developed countries who view climate change as detrimental to their economic interests. As the minister noted in the launch of the Committee, Guyana has a national action plan to address climate change.
With the committee now in place, it is time to start putting that action plan into action.