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'We Must Focus Attention On Climate Change Risks'

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Prime Minister Perry Christie

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Staff Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Perry Christie yesterday highlighted the need to bring international awareness to the country’s vulnerability to climate change in a bid to drive global environmental policy.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 2013 High Level Caribbean Forum, Mr Christie said he was petrified by the prospect of climate change, specifically the threat of rising sea levels.

He said: “When you talking about climate change, it’s a petrifying kind of futuristic consideration. It’s petrifying because we are very vulnerable and as you learn more and more you ask yourself the question, the kinds of cyclones, tornados, and hurricanes, the ferocity of them, were these things happening in the past or is there something really going on?

Mr Christie added: “That’s why climate change becomes a major issue that we don’t pay sufficient attention to, and all you want to think about is rising sea levels.”

In June, a World Bank scientific report forecast an expected 2�C rise in the world’s average temperatures in the next decade, with island economies, such as the Maldives, to be impacted by extreme weather patterns and rising sea levels.

The Maldives faces the biggest sea level increases of between 100-115 centimetres, the report warned.

Regional Vice-President for South Asia Isabel Guerrero explained that the rise in world temperatures threatens South Asia’s dense urban populations with extreme heat, flooding, and disease and could trap millions of people in poverty.

In 2009, former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed led the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting to bring international awareness to the threat of global warming and climate change.

Diving 20 feet below the surface to the sea floor, the nation’s cabinet signed a document calling on all countries to cut their carbon dioxide emissions.

Yesterday, Mr Christie said: “If you go to the islands and talk to the old timers, they will tell you where the ocean now is they used to have picnics and they used to ride their horses along the beach. The sea is claiming the land and the whole idea of being in fear of it is to have policies and have a world that is concerned about that.

“There are countries that are vulnerable to disasters and that they ought to take those things into consideration as they deal with us on the international level.”

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