Climate change is considered to be the most pervasive and truly global of all issues affecting humanity. It poses a serious threat to the environment, as well as to economies and societies. Whilst it is clear that the impacts of climate change are varied, scientists have agreed that its effects will not be evenly distributed and that developing countries and small island developing States (SIDS) will be the first and hardest hit. Small island developing States, many of whom have fewer resources to adapt socially, technologically and financially to climate change, are considered to be the most vulnerable to the potential impacts of climate change.
An economic analysis of climate change can provide essential input for identifying and preparing policies and strategies to help move the Caribbean closer to solving the problems associated with climate change, and to attaining individual and regional sustainable development goals.
Climate change is expected to affect the health of populations. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO), in Protecting Health from Climate Change (2008), states that the continuation of current patterns of fossil fuel use, development and population growth will lead to ongoing climate change, with serious effects on the environment and, consequently, on human lives and health.
Assessing the economics of potential health impacts of climate variability and change requires an understanding of both the vulnerability of a population and its capacity to respond to new conditions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines vulnerability as the degree to which individuals and systems are susceptible to, or unable to cope with, the adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes (WHO and others, 2003).
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in collaboration with the Caribbean Community Centre for Climate Change (CCCCC), is pursuing a regional project to ―Review the Economics of Climate Change in the Caribbean‖ (RECCC). The purpose of the project is to assess the likely economic impacts of climate change on key sectors of Caribbean economies, through applying robust simulation modelling analyses under various socio-economic scenarios and carbon emission trajectories for the next 40 years. The findings are expected to stimulate local and national governments, regional institutions, the private sector and civil society to craft and implement policies, cost-effective options and efficient choices to mitigate and adapt to climate change.