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Fighting Climate Change in Cayman

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Earlier this month, 195 countries at COP21 came together to form the Paris Agreement, a treaty to combat climate change and target actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient, and sustainable future.

The agreement seeks to offer protection to small, low-lying islands such as the Cayman Islands, by delineating plans to keep global warming “well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels” and pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Cayman Minister of Environment Wayne Panton says the Paris agreement will provide a guiding framework for the British Overseas Territory in attempts to reduce its carbon footprint.

“The treaty calls for a special report in 2018 on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C and that report could provide some important information for Cayman in terms of the measures needed to address the effects of climate change,” he said. “Prior to the Agreement, the Cayman Islands Government had planned a review of its National Energy Policy. The treaty will impact our efforts to refine the local framework and enable more avenues to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Cabinet recently made the decision to request that the United Kingdom include Cayman in its ratification of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which runs until December 31, 2020.  Under KP2, the U.K. has a reduction goal of 16 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 emissions levels.

Cayman is obligated to provide information to the U.K. on local measures to reduce its own emissions and adapt to climate change.  In addition to energy policies, the Government has developed a draft national climate change policy.  Both will prove instrumental in helping to guide the establishment of greenhouse gas reduction targets and the methods of reaching the agreed reductions.  The draft National Climate Change Policy and National Energy Policy will undergo a review and update in early 2016.

“Policies relating to energy security and climate change are intimately linked as they both seek to reduce our current reliance on carbon-based energy production and for the Cayman Islands, one is as essential as the other,” Panton said.

Both the Minister and the Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie are hopeful that the Paris Agreement will encourage Cayman to make greater strides in reducing its carbon footprint.

“To date, actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change have not been a focus of national policy. This will need to change if we are to make any meaningful progress on the issues surrounding climate change,” she said.

Credit: Caribbean Journal

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