UK to spend £22m on climate change in Caribbean
This week as our guest columnist British High Commisioner to T&T, ARTHUR SNELL, continues his commentary on the UN’s ECLAC report on the Economics of Climate Change for the Caribbean. He tells us in this commentary that the British Government will spend at least £22 million on climate change and risk reduction up to 2015 (from a wider Caribbean programme of £75 million).
The British Government has prioritised action on climate change—we have committed to cut our national emissions by 80 per cent by 2050—this is one of the toughest targets of any major world economy and will require the UK to make significant changes in energy usage and production. We have also shown the strongest of leadership on finance. Our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income as official development assistance by 2013, the first major economy to meet that UN target, has enabled us to create an unprecedented £2.9 billion (TT$29 billion) UK International Climate Fund. Our ministers have agreed three broad priorities for our support under this fund:
• low carbon, climate resilient economic growth on a major scale;
• support for international negotiations on climate change and effective international aid architecture to support appropriate action; and
• recognition that climate change offers real opportunities for innovation and new ideas for action, and the need to create new partnerships with the private sector to support low carbon climate resilient growth.
So what does this mean for the Caribbean? Climate change and risk reduction is a central part of the UK’s assistance programme in the Caribbean. The British Government will spend at least £22 million on this up to 2015 (from a wider Caribbean programme of £75 million). Our focus will include more support for practical, tangible sectoral and community-based interventions, such as supporting 160 particularly vulnerable communities to cope better with the risks of climate change (In Trinidad and Tobago, the British High Commission is working with the Red Cross Society to roll out a climate change community education programme) affordable hazard insurance to protect incomes of 18,000 of the poorest and 50,000 small farm workers when disasters do strike support for better national risk reduction and adaptation—including safer buildings, improved water management and supplies and early warning systems.
There will also be contributions on top of that, for example our support to global and multilateral funds and programmes that benefit the region, like the Climate Development Knowledge Network, Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience, the Global Environmental Facility, and the European Union’s programmes. I hope that the ECLAC report stimulates discussion and catalyses action. We will remain a strong partner to the Caribbean in this.
As Andrew Mitchell, the UK Secretary of State for International Development recently said: “We must get on with it and not be paralysed into inaction on the ground. History has shown us that whenever there’s an industrial revolution, it is always those who are prepared to embrace change who wins through. It’s time that all of us—governments, civil society, private sector and individuals—put our shoulders to the wheel and got on with the job. Only then can we secure a future for this planet and a better, safer and more prosperous life for all who live on it.”