Climate change pain, energy creation among common topics for island governments

CBC – The prime minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis says his country and Prince Edward Island are facing many of the same challenges when it comes to fighting the effects of climate change.

Terrance Drew is among more than 200 people on P.E.I. this week for the Global Sustainable Islands Summit at the Rodd Crowbush Golf and Beach Resort. 

His nation of about 50,000 people in the West Indies, located just southeast of Puerto Rico, and other islands around the world are disproportionately affected by climate change and rising sea levels. 

For example, Saint Kitts and Nevis has lost some of its beaches to erosion and its coral reefs are bleaching, Drew said. That hurts both the fishing industry and tourism. 

Saint Kitts and Nevis is also going through one of the worst droughts in its history, which has decreased its water supply.

“We never expected to be at this stage when it comes to water scarcity,” Drew said. “We are now declared one of the most water-scarce countries in the world, and we used to be a water-abundant country… That is because of climate change and we have had to invest millions of dollars just to get water in the tap to people’s homes.

“So it has been devastating.”

Drew came to the summit to share his knowledge and learn what other islands are doing. He was particularly interested in wind and solar energy, where P.E.I. is seen as a leader.

“We are also using solar and we’re going to do a large solar farm to produce up to 30 megawatts of energy. You are doing it here, beautiful sun. We are doing the same thing.

“We also have wind, which we are exploring and you are far advanced with wind. So already, you see, there are a lot of commonalities in terms of our solutions to climate change.”

“You always want to ask yourself in government, ‘Are we doing enough? Are we doing it the right way?’

“The best way to do that sometimes is to measure yourself against other jurisdictions, to say, ‘What are they doing? How are they doing it?'”

Gale Rigobert, the dean of academics at the University of Saint Maarten, also in the Caribbean region, said P.E.I. and other small islands are great testing grounds for climate change tools and policies. 

“Small is also nimble, malleable. So it affords us the opportunities to test solutions, to test policies, and to come up with very quick solutions, which of course we can always scale up.”

The leaders said their voices are stronger when they are united, and they hope to continue working together on common issues.

“Nobody’s under the illusion that we’re going to have a two-, three-day event in Crowbush, P.E.I., and solve all the world’s problems,” King said.

“These things will need to continue. The weather and changing climate will continue to impact us along the way. We’ll need to be adaptable.”

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