(26 September 2011) Climate change is estimated to cost countries in the Caribbean subregion up to 5% of annual GDP between 2011 and 2050, if actions for mitigating and adaptation are not pursued, according to the ECLAC report The Economics of Climate Change in the Caribbean Summary Report.
The report, which was launched by ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean on Monday 26 September 2011, concludes two years of research on the potential impact of climate change.
Assessments were conducted in eight sectors identified as vulnerable by Caribbean stakeholders, across 14 countries. The research was conducted in collaboration with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), with funding provided by the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Hirohito Toda, Officer-in-Charge of the ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean stated that owing to the geographic characteristics and small economic size of the countries of the Caribbean, the region will be among the first to be affected.
"Since more than half of the population lives near the coast, increase in temperature, change in precipitation and rise in sea level due to human activities will not only lead to loss of land but to lowered prospects for economic growth as well as quality of life for its people," he said.
Arthur Snell, High Commissioner for the United Kingdom, Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Trinidad and Tobago, applauded the efforts by ECLAC in spearheading the research on the issue of climate change, noting that the findings of the national studies will drive regional awareness and resilience building, and assist decision-makers in targeting their preventative and mitigating efforts.
"Measures which are premature, or not cost effective, risk a trade off with growth by diverting resources from more productive uses. It is important to include a cost-benefit analysis - a critical part of this report -and consider the uncertainties before decisions are made," Mr.Snell said.
The Minister of Housing and Environment of Trinidad and Tobago, Roodal Moonilal, noted that in addition to the need for quantification of the economic costs of climate change, there is also a need for capacity building in the Caribbean for risk management associated with climate change impacts. "National planning is a critical component of overall adaptation action if climate resilience of sectors and economies are to be built," he said.
ECLAC estimates that adaption to the impact of climate change and the mitigation against it could cost the subregion approximately 2 - 3 % of its annual GDP, compared to the cost of inaction which is estimated at 5% of GDP.
The report highlighted the need for Caribbean countries to take urgent action by employing energy efficiency measures, improving management of natural resources, and implementing financing mechanisms that support sustainable adaptive actions. It calls for a subregional adaptation response and the strengthening of institutional frameworks for responding to climate change.
Any queries should be addressed to ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean or to ECLAC Public Information and Web Services Section. E-mail: registryeclacpos.org, Telephone: (868) 224 8000, Fax: (868) 623-8485. Website: www.eclacpos.org