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Storm-struck St. Lucia’s PM says islands need more to tackle warming

Small Island [Developing] States (SIDS) need financial aid to assist in coping with extreme weather linked to climate change, St. Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said, as his Caribbean country recovers from flooding and landslides triggered by Hurricane Matthew.

Matthew hit St Lucia with tropical storm strength winds on Wednesday, and has since intensified to become the most powerful hurricane to cross the Caribbean in nine years, threatening Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba with 150 mile-per-hour (240 kph) winds.

It is hard to say whether a particular storm has been affected by climate change, but some scientists say warmer seas will lead to more intense hurricanes. Rising seas linked to warming are also expected to hit tropical island nations hard.

In Paris last December, nearly 200 countries agreed on a binding global compact to reduce greenhouse gases and keep global temperature increases to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.

“We are paying a very heavy price down here, we are not net emitters, we do not have economies that are large enough to solve the problem ourselves and we are dependent on the world,” Chastanet told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

“Unfortunately we do not necessarily live in the most benevolent society.”

Chastanet said the Paris deal, which is closer to coming into effect after EU nations said they would fast-track ratification, was a “huge breakthrough” symbolically. However, he was not optimistic it would lead to financial help for countries most at risk.

“Countries are ratifying deals but they are not ratifying funds,” he said, calling the global climate deal a “contract of conscience.”

The prime minister said agriculture in St. Lucia, a volcanic island in the eastern Caribbean, had been badly hit by Matthew.

St. Lucia’s National Emergency Management Organization said interruptions to water supply after the storm were a serious concern.

St Lucia belongs to a group of 43 nations vulnerable to climate change that want the industrialized world to coordinate on financing to address climate change.

“We need to put a framework so we can take care of ourselves,” Chastanat said. “Hopefully at some point we would be able to get monies behind the global warming effect.”

Credit: Business Insider

5Cs funded climate-smart facility opened in Saint Lucia

Renovated and retrofitted Marchand Community Centre; Credit: Earl Green

Renovated and retrofitted Marchand Community Centre; Credit: Earl Green

A team from the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre led by Executive Director Dr Kenrick Leslie was present yesterday for the official opening of the Marchand Community Centre, a climate-smart facility near Castries, Saint Lucia. The Marchand  Community Centre was renovated and retrofitted as a pilot adaptation project under the Special Programme on Adaptation to Climate Change ( SPACC): Implementation of Adaptation Measures in Coastal Zones Project— a multi component initiative executed by the Centre with co-financing from the Global Environment Fund (GEF) through the World Bank and the Government of Saint Lucia.

Other participating countries included Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and The Commonwealth of Dominica.
Dr Kenrick Leslie, CBE; Credit: Earl Green

Dr Kenrick Leslie, CBE; Credit: Earl Green

The community centre was renovated and retrofitted to demonstrate the design and implementation of appropriate interventions to reinforce critical infrastructure that can withstand the effects of intensified wind speeds from category three and above hurricanes. Dr Leslie told the gathering of community members, government officials and media that the US$300, 000 facility, 60% of which was financed through the Centre, incorporates new wind speed engineering design and is an energy efficiency success story. He noted that the facility features a US$36, 000 photovoltaic (PV) component funded by the 5Cs, Government of Saint Lucia and Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme (CREDP) that will ensure the provision of power during outages, which will prove essential in the event of a storm.

Reinforced critical infrastructure such as the Marchand Community Centre, a multipurpose facility slated to also function as a hurricane shelter, is a key part of efforts to make the Caribbean more climate resilient, especially as scientists predict an average of three to four Category 4 and 5 hurricanes per year by 2025 in the Atlantic Basin.

This successful pilot project has already yielded significant systemic changes that will benefit Saint Lucia and the wider region. These changes include:

  • Incorporation of the Marchand  Community Centre into Saint Lucia’s National Emergency Management Plan (NEMP)-Cabinet Conclusion 1159/2009 of September 24, 2009
  • Incorporation of design wind speed standards into Saint Lucia’s Development Control Authority (DCA) process for commercial and public buildings
  • Incorporation of improved engineering standards into Saint Lucia’s Building Codes 
  • Strengthening of the Caribbean Unified Building Code
  • Training, promulgation of standards
The multipurpose facility will be used for a myriad of activities, including:
  1. National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) storage facility (One section of the ground floor)
  2. Weekly Feeding Programme (One section of the ground floor)
  3. Daily Boxing Programme (Top floor)
  4. Meetings/community events (Top floor)
  5. Shelter during natural disasters, including mudslides (for example the Black Mallet community) and hurricanes (First floor)
Marchand Community Centre Before Renovation; Credit: Earl Green

Marchand Community Centre Before Renovation; Credit: Earl Green

Improvements made to the Marchand Community Centre
    • Redesign and replace of roof
    • Hurricane strapped roof structure
    • Natural ventilation via dormers
    • Impact resistant windows
    • Energy-efficient lighting and appliance
    • Generation of electricity using photovoltaic (PV) technology, including battery backup
    • Ramp
    • Strengthened stairways
    • Balcony (sustainability) facing field
    • Water storage
           - Potable water
           - Rainwater harvesting  
    • Water conservation, through the use of low-flush toilets, basins etc.
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