Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 01, 2015 (SKNIS)—Although “greenhouse gas emissions from small island developing states such as St. Kitts and Nevis are negligible, our small island states continue to be adversely and disproportionately affected by the impacts of Climate Change,” said Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, in his address at the opening of the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP21 Conference, being held in Le Bourget, France, from November 30 to December 11, 2015. The COP 21 conference follows on the heels of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which took place in Malta from November 27-29, 2015, where climate change featured on the agenda.
“As responsible global citizens, we in St. Kitts and Nevis are already acting locally to reduce our national carbon footprint even further,” the prime minister said.
One of the ways St. Kitts and Nevis is doing this is through exploring alternative energy sources.
“The pursuit of renewable energy solutions is now a critical and integral component of our national sustainable development strategy to transform St. Kitts and Nevis into a fully environmentally sustainable small island state,” Prime Minister Harris said.
Already, my Government is incentivizing behavioral changes through the facilitation of duty free concessions on renewable energy technologies. We are building strategic partnerships with countries and the private sector to develop geothermal, solar and wind energy solutions. Currently, we have solar farms operating on both St. Kitts and Nevis and (we) are also exploring the potential geothermal capacity on the islands. These renewables will have a significant impact on our energy consumption patterns and reliance on fossil fuels,” Dr. Harris said at the conference that has attracted close to 50, 000 participants with nearly 150 heads of government and 25,000 official delegates from government, intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, NGO’s and civil society.
Prime Minister Harris said that climate change was real and used as examples the drought in St. Kitts and Nevis this year as one of the worst droughts in recent times that has caused the rationing of water for several months. He also used the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Erika in neighbouring Dominica to make his case.
“St. Kitts and Nevis, like other Small Island Developing States, has been undergoing many climate related changes; namely sea level rise, extreme weather events, prolonged and severe droughts, and disruption to our reefs, coastlines and agriculture,” he said.
Prime Minister Harris made a passionate call for action now to deal with the serious threat of climate change, while urging leaders “to negotiate and agree on a legally-binding agreement with ambitious emission reduction targets.”
“Many of our small and vulnerable states require targeted technical assistance for the implementation of robust mitigation and adaptation strategies. We must also focus on the issue of loss and damage, financing, technology transfer and capacity building,” Prime Minister Harris said.