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T&T’s worrying absence from climate talks

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

T&T this week finds itself sharing the dubious distinction with North Korea of being the only two countries not represented at one of the most important global gatherings of the year, COP23, or more officially, the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The conference, which opened on Monday in Bonn, Germany, seeks to substantially advance efforts to tackle global warming and put the world on a safer, more prosperous development path.

This country’s no-show is particularly worrying because a specific area of focus is of particular importance to countries like ours—an effort to protect people living in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) from the heath impacts of climate change. SIDS have long been recognised as especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change along with the severe weather systems that have battered this region in recent weeks and months.

Ironically, in just the last few days the country’s health system has been facing the challenge of dealing with cases of leptospirosis linked to devastating floods in some communities in south Trinidad. This comes on the heels of a recording-breaking hurricane season, which saw two deadly systems wreaking havoc on some Caribbean neighbours and the early direct hit on T&T by Tropical Storm Bret.

These recent weather events should have been enough of a reminder to Government that climate change must be an issue of high priority.

Although T&T has signed on to the Paris Agreement, which established specific actions and targets for reducing greenhouse gases emissions, mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change and financing mitigation and adaptation efforts, there is to date no real evidence of progress in implementing this country’s Nationally

Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the UNFCCC.

The silence and inaction from decision makers on this critical issue is almost palpable.

As an energy producing nation with one of the Caribbean’s largest industrial sectors, T&T’s ecological footprint is particularly significant.

Therefore, on issues of climate change, this country can’t afford to be so slow off the blocks.

Changing of guards at NPTA

This month there are several reminders that democracy is alive and well in T&T. Over the weekend the system was at work within the National Parent Teacher Association (NPTA) where elections resulted in a rare changing of the guards within that organisation. After 17 years at the helm, Zena Ramatali has been replaced by Raffiena Ali-Boodoosingh, an experienced educator.

Even as we thank Ms Ramatali for her many years of service, we also welcome and express support to Ms Ali-Boodoosingh who is taking on that mantle at a time of significant challenges within the education sector.

This month is characterised by the number of elections that are taking place within important groups and organisations. In the coming days, leadership elections will be held in the main opposition party, the United National Congress, followed by the Congress of the People (COP). Another political party, the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), recently went through the democratic process which saw its leaders returned unopposed.

Also keenly anticipated later this month are elections in the country’s largest public sector union, the Public Services Association (PSA), where incumbent president Watson Duke is facing three challengers.

Best wishes to all the candidates.


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