LONDON, April 02, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A growing body of research shows that the worst impacts of climate change are borne by the most vulnerable nations.
The Commonwealth of Dominica is one such nation – which, due to its geographic location – is currently experiencing a higher number of the most severe hurricanes as a result of climate change.
In 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall on the southwest coast of Dominica on September 18 as a Category 5 hurricane. Winds of 220 mph claimed the lives of 68 people and decimated 90% of the housing infrastructure and directly impacted 80% of the population.
Electricity and water supplies were interrupted and entire crops were destroyed.
With a population of just over 70,000 people, Dominica, classified as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), has been declared an international humanitarian emergency.
Five days after Hurricane Maria, the Prime Minister of Dominica, Dr. Hon. Roosevelt Skerritt left the front lines of the devastation to address the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Here he reminded nations, especially developed nations, how small countries like his that had made very little or no contribution to global warming were the victims of the fierce impact of climate change.
“Heat is the fuel that supercharges ordinary storms and turns them into a devastating force. In the past we braced for one strong storm a year, now thousands of storms form on a breeze in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and line up to pound us with maximum force.
“We in the Caribbean do not produce greenhouse gases or sulphate aerosols. We do not pollute or overfish. We have made no contribution to global warming that can move the needle, yet we are among the main victims of the war on climate change.
In 2019, the six largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world together accounted for 51% of the world’s population and 67% of total CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. Dominica was not on this list.
The United States is the second largest emitter of CO2 after China, and the largest historically. In 2019, greenhouse gas emissions in the United States totaled 6,558 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, an increase of 2% since 1990, while Dominica accounted for 0% of the share. global CO2 emissions over the same period according to Worldometer.
The Biden administration’s recent recommitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate accord and advancing research and development of solutions is a step in the right direction of the part of a major CO2 emitter like the United States and will go a long way towards protecting the health and well-being of future generations.
The future of humanity has always been closely linked to that of the natural world.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire world, it has particularly amplified the unique vulnerabilities of SIDS, which bear disproportionately the brunt of multiple global crises – climate, natural, health, economic and financial.
The acute structural challenges and multi-dimensional vulnerabilities of SIDS are increasingly exposed and intensifying over time. Addressing these vulnerabilities is a significant challenge for small nations, most of which are middle-income countries and may not be eligible to access concessional finance based on GDP or other established criteria.
Climate change presents unique challenges for SIDS such as Dominica. Development challenges associated with rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns and storm surges threaten to reverse progress made towards the Millennium Development Goals, now and in the future. The United Nations Millennium Declaration, signed in September 2000, commits world leaders to combating, among other things, environmental degradation.
Key projected risks for SIDS include increased land loss from sea level rise, flooding, ecosystem degradation and freshwater stress, increased intensity tropical storms and extreme water level events that could double by 2050.
“Dominica is one of the countries on the front lines of climate change. They feel its impacts first and hardest, yet they contribute less than 1% of global carbon emissions. They are vulnerable to hurricanes and cyclones, which are becoming more frequent and extreme, causing economic and environmental devastation, not to mention loss of life. Their dependence on food and energy imports and tourism revenue increases their vulnerability to external shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. It must be emphasized that climate change for small island nations is a matter of life and death,” added Micha Emmet, CEO of CS Global Partners – a leading government consulting and marketing firm.
Climate justice is an area of research that defines climate change as a political and ethical issue, not just an issue underpinned by environmental change. SIDS-focused climate justice research has focused on gaps in existing climate actions to prevent adverse climate impacts affecting island states.
The so-called “North-South” divide highlights the difference between developed and developing countries in the identification and implementation of ambitious actions that would limit the risks posed by climate change. This divide is illustrated by the contrast between SIDS advocating limiting global average warming to 1.5°C and the refusal of developed countries to respect this warming limit, despite the existential risks that increased warming presents for SIDS. .
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