Climate change has left psychological scars on the people of T&T, Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis has said.
The minister was addressing the official handover of T&T’s Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment to Climate Change Risks Report at the Hilton Trinidad on Wednesday.
Robinson-Regis made reference to the massive flooding experienced around the country in October last year and explained that its damage was beyond physical.
“We are also painfully aware that the impacts of climate change are not only biophysical but also psychological and significantly impact the mental health of the vulnerable populations. Evidence of this can be found no further than in the trepidation and anxiety experienced by citizens in the aftermath of the October 2018 floods at the mere sight of rain clouds,” said Robinson-Regis, who explained last year’s floods proved that climate change was no longer a looming threat but a present danger.
“The country has realised an increase in mean surface temperature by about 1.7 degrees centigrade based on an analysis of meteorological data from the years between 1961 to 2008,” said the Planning Minister, who said it was also noticeable in the extremely dry season the country has experienced this year.
But the impact on rain was more alarming, she noted.
“Increasing precipitation intensity has also resulted in not only an increased frequency of flooding but flooding in areas that have never experienced such before. The extreme weather events of October 2018 that caused catastrophic flooding and loss of property on a scale hitherto unseen must, therefore, be seen as a sober wake-up call of the realisation of what could become the new normal if sufficiently robust mitigation interventions are not implemented with alacrity,” said Robinson-Regis.
The minister said the report serves as a platform to build upon to combat the challenges of climate change and noted the Government had taken steps to reduce fuel emissions within the transport sector to do its part.
Robinson-Regis said there would be an attempt to reduce emissions in the power generation sector as well.
“We have also embarked on initiatives to established renewable energy as a mainstay in the power generation sector starting with a target of 10 per cent by 2021 in the national electricity mix, we are committed to do our part in mitigating climate change regardless of the relatively small quantum of emissions as in our view it is immaterial from where the emissions reductions emanate,” said Robinson-Regis.
During a review of the report, research analyst specialist Candace Leung Woo-Gabriel explained the increased flooding had detrimental effects on our water management system.
“We saw that the water quality is deteriorating because of the high levels of biological oxygen demand and bacterial content and turbidity and that’s because of the presence of pollutants in the water. What is causing this is because there are uncontrolled discharges from domestic and industrial areas,” said Leung Woo-Gabriel.
“There’s a lot more rainfall in a very short space of time so the runoff is going to be very high and when that happens, the river gets very turbid. And there the water management is not one that can handle all this runoff and all this pollution in the water.”
This, she said, has caused WASA to shut off supply to some areas more often as they have to address the contaminants in the water.