Local Engagement Impresses Climate Scientists

Published on: 1 June 2022 03:15 PM
by KnowESG

Scientists from the United Kingdom assisting the Ministry of Sustainability and Climate Resiliency with a climate risk assessment for the Cayman Islands have expressed their admiration for the local response to climate change challenges. The ministry hopes to keep the public engaged since public consultation is a significant component of developing a policy to preserve these islands from the adverse effects of climate change.

A survey has been launched as part of the risk assessment process to gather additional insight into public understanding, attitudes, and behaviours relating to climate change.

The anonymous survey has five sections: demographic information, general climate change knowledge, personal opinions, media use, and climate action. It takes around 10 minutes to complete.

Following a two-day workshop and a public meeting last week, Dr John Pinnegar, Principal Scientist and Lead Advisor on Climate Change at the UK's Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), who led the delegation, said that the concerns Caymanians have about climate change are consistent with their research. However, he stated that the visit provided the team with a "far deeper picture" of what was going on and that they could see that people "truly care about it."

Despite growing public concern in the Cayman Islands that not nearly enough is being done to address the massive challenges posed by climate change and biodiversity loss, the research team discovered that the Cayman Islands has done far more to preserve the marine environment and mangroves than many other jurisdictions.

Pinnegar further stated that the construction standards in this area provide better protection against the more violent storms and other weather events projected in the coming years than in many other parts of the region. Despite this, the team has highlighted several challenges that the government must address, including the development of a new climate policy, which will be based on work done in 2012 on a draft policy document that was never enacted, as well as this new climate risk assessment.

Drought and the heat risks that come with it, such as brush fires; more coral bleaching and the loss of protection from reefs and mangroves as storms intensify; the loss of key habitat for local species and an increase in invasive species; groundwater contamination from storm surge and sewage; more flooding; beach erosion and the destruction of beachfront homes and waterfront infrastructure, are among the threats identified by the climate assessment.

Officials have stated that citizens will have more opportunities to participate in drafting climate policy, which is expected by the end of this year.

Source: Cayman News Service

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