Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 24, 2017 (SKNIS) —In the wake of several tropical storms and hurricanes—the two most recent being Hurricanes Irma and Maria—that have caused massive destruction to several Small Island Developing States (SIDS), including Barbuda, Dominica, Anguilla, Sint Martin/St. Maarten, the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands among others, Minister of Foreign Affairs of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Honourable Mark Brantley, has called for a more sustainable planet, whereby action must be taken to protect the environment, while addressing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on September 23.
Mr. President, climate change for us in the Caribbean is not a matter for academic rumination. The humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Caribbean in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria is stark testimony that climate change is not only real but poses an existential threat to our people, our countries and our civilization,” Minister Brantley said.
“In the space of two weeks we braced ourselves for three hurricanes, Irma, Jose and Maria. Two of these, Irma and Maria, descended on our region as Category 5 hurricanes, and in the case of Irma, the most powerful storm in recorded history in the Atlantic. I pause to reflect that the hurricane season for 2017 is not yet over and the Caribbean will face similar threats each and every year.
“In the aftermath, we were faced with the tragic destruction of life, property and infrastructure in Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, St Barthelemy, St Martin, Sint Maarten, the British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands, Cuba, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe and Dominica. Irma then made landfall in Florida in the United States where, like Hurricane Harvey before it in Texas and Louisiana, damage and destruction were caused to millions of people,” said Minister Brantley to the august Assembly.
He continued: “Mr. President, the carnage in a wide swath of the Caribbean is unimaginable. Lives have been lost; homes and infrastructure destroyed; economies reduced to tatters; years of development wiped out; and in the case of Barbuda, an entire island evacuated and rendered uninhabited and uninhabitable for the first time in 300 years.”
Minister Brantley told the Assembly that the time has come “to treat these phenomena not as natural disasters but as the man-made disasters that they are.”
“The science is irrefutable. Our oceans continue to get warmer due to our continued abuse of our Planet Earth. Warmer oceans feed and create horrific storms such as Irma and Maria,” he said.
In calling for a more sustainable planet, the minister outlined the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and for the world to act now to reverse climate change.
“We cannot continue to abuse our Planet and expect to remain unscathed,” he said, while calling for the use of renewable energy, which is more environmentally friendly.
He said that although SIDS are not major emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, they suffer the consequences of others’ actions.
“Mr. President, small vulnerable States like Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis continue to be asked, by the world, to cash a cheque we did not write,” he said.
Minister Brantley called on the United Nations to assist in the reconstruction of those island devastated by Irma and Maria.
“In this regard, I call on the community of Nations to mobilize the necessary resources to ensure the speedy reconstruction of those countries devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” Minister Brantley said.