Daily Management Review

Antigua plans on taking proactive corrective measures in the face of Global Warming and Climate Change


Island nations such as Antigua are particularly prey to rising sea levels caused by global warming. The modern phenomena of climate change is an added burden. In order to face these challenges, Antigua wants to decidedly face these challenges by taking pro-active corrective measures.

Antigua plans on taking proactive corrective measures in the face of Global Warming and Climate Change
The north-eastern coast of Antigua, features a beautiful white sandy beach, which is a favourite haunt for tourists as well as locals. Regulars use the area for recreational activities as well as for exercises, however with the rapid disappearance of the beach due to climate change, locals and officials are getting increasingly worried.
Freeston Williams, a resident of the area says, “I travel around the Jabberwock area on the northern side of the island and I notice the shoreline is coming in closer to the road which means that it’s minimising the area we use for exercise. I am not sure what exactly is causing all this but sooner or later we will not have any beach left.”
Diann Black Layne, is Barbuda’s and Antigua’s chief environment officer. She is mobilising and pressurising residents and legislatures to get “climate ready” so that the small island nation can implement policies on climate change. She says that the sea levels are in fact rising.
“In the past 10 years we have experienced three droughts in Antigua. The temperature of the Caribbean Sea will have summer temperatures all the time. This means hurricane season will be all year round,” said Diann Black Layne.
As mentioned in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Inter-governmental Panel of Climate Change, even a 2 degree rise in global temperatures, would mean the loss of livelihood for island nations and low-lying coastal areas. Rising sea levels, coastal flooding, and storm surges could play havoc with the lives of the residents of these communities and islands. Besides flooding, the rise of just 2 degrees Celsius would have other consequences as well.
“For persons living in the tropics it will just be too hot, every building will have to be air-conditioned – schools, churches, clinics, prisons. There would also be failure of infrastructure such as roads, seaports, airports and buildings; plants and animals, including humans, would die during periods of extreme heat; there will be a breakdown of agricultural systems resulting in food prices increasing; there will be insufficient access to drinking and irrigation water and reduced agricultural productivity; and tropical species of fish will move to cooler waters resulting in a reduction of fishing in the Caribbean,” said Ms Diann Black Layne.
Tourism is Antigua’s major export. It not only provides a large section of the population with employment but it also brings in a major chunk of foreign exchange. With receding beaches, and grim outlook for reefs, Antigua’s tourism dependant industry will be heavily affected. For even at a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius, 89% of all coral reefs will experience bleaching. Unless corrective measures are taken, if we continue to tread on the same path and if the trend of climate change continues undisturbed then by 2050 all coral reefs, all over the world, will be affected by severe bleaching.
So as to bring about substantial positive change in our consumption patterns which is heating up the planet, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) had initiated a 2 day workshop on the 14th and 15th of April this year, wherein participants were briefed on the current sea levels, and brainstorming sessions held on how to tackles the dangers of climate change.
“We have data that shows what levels of awareness people already have and where the gaps are and we also have data from Antigua. The workshop will also determine priorities for a communication action plan for Antigua that considers critical climate change issues in four major sectors – agriculture, tourism, marine and coastal as well as the water sector,” said Tecla Fontenard, a communication Specialist with OECS.
Island Nations such as Antigua, are particularly vulnerable to many pressures arising out of the global phenomena of climate change. This challenge becomes more daunting and urgently critical because of the devastation climate change will bring to not only its economy and society but for its survival as an island nation. Unless course corrective strategies are discussed and put in place, its very survival as an island nation will be at stake.
But Black-Layne prefers a more positive mind set.  She said, “From the Environment Division perspective, when you hear the pronouncements and the predicted impacts of climate change on our country it’s not very encouraging. In fact it’s very depressing and the temptation would be to say what’s the point of doing what we’re doing. But we believe that there is always a point of redemption and I don’t think we’ve gone beyond that point.”