‘No Way to Defend Ourselves Against the Onslaught of Climate Change’

Suriname’s First Lady Ingrid Bouterse-Waldring says the
Caribbean nation has been affected by climate change as it has
experienced many destructive floods. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
PARAMARIBO, Feb 21 2019 (IPS)

Two of the most prominent women in the Caribbean nation of
Suriname are speaking out about developed countries that release
large volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

First Lady Ingrid Bouterse-Waldring and Speaker of the National
Assembly Jennifer Geerlings-Simons say Suriname and other countries
in the region are feeling the brunt of the effects of climate

“If we go to the interior of our country, then we see that we
have had a lot of floods in those areas. These floods are
destructive for the people who are living there. The effects are
clearly noticeable especially to the women and the children,”
Bouterse-Waldring told IPS.

“In the coastal area . . . we have had a lot of very strong
winds. These winds, actually we never had them before, so it’s
also new to us. These are all things that we are facing now with
climate change.”

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma that devastated
Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and
others in 2017, many countries are still struggling to recover.

Geerlings-Simons told IPS: “Some of our countries have seen
devastation and we have seen examples in 2017 and 2018 of what will
happen to our countries if at any point in time, a hurricane or any
other type of disaster happens.”

“You can start rebuilding your economy . . . but next year
another hurricane might come and wipe you out again. Did you
contribute to clime change? No, you just get hit by it. How would
Suriname recover from one hurricane? Seventy-five percent of our
people live on the coast and 75 percent or more of our economy is
right here. How will we recover? Our homes are not built for
hurricanes,” Geerlings-Simons said, adding that

The Speaker of Suriname’s National Assembly said that more
than 1,000 homes lost their roofs in extreme weather conditions
over the last 10 years. Previously, this sort of destruction to
homes due to the weather was unheard of.

“So, we’re feeling the effects right now,” she said.

Jennifer Geerlings-Simons Suriname’s Speaker of the National
Assembly says poor and even highly forested countries have no way
to defend themselves against this onslaught of climate change which
is already happening. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Geerlings-Simons said countries like Suriname, whose forests are
actually aiding many other parts of the world, should get something
in return. Not only do forests provide oxygen to the world, but
according to the World
Wide Fund For Nature
two billion people either directly or
indirectly rely on them for food, shelter and food security

“We have no way as poor countries or even a highly forested
countries to defend ourselves against this onslaught of climate
change which is already happening, and which is actually
threatening our future in the relatively short term of a few
decades,” Geerlings-Simons told IPS.

“We as highly forested countries should . . . have an
international fund in which we put some money if we push carbon
into the air, and we get some money if we take it out of the

Geerlings-Simons said this has already been tried and proven in
Costa Rica. Twenty-two years ago, Costa Rica was the first in the
world to start a nationwide scheme for compensating landowners for
preserving their forests when it embarked on its national programme
of payment for environmental services (PES).

“If you pay someone to keep the forest standing, they will
keep it standing because they don’t have to give it to someone to
cut it down to get something to eat,” Geerlings-Simons said.

“I am sure that if Europe, the United States or China would
develop some kind of mechanism, some kind of machine, everybody
would gladly be paying for it because it would strengthen their

“But now, finally after a few hundred years, some money has to
come to this part of the world, at this moment where we are facing
a very dire situation. The [International Panel on Climate Change]
IPCC is not some kind of scaremongering organisation and they
really gave us a stern warning. You do something, you get paid for
it. Why is this an exception?” she added.

Last year, the IPCC released a report assessing the impacts of
global warming of 1.5 degrees C.

But as global emissions continue to rise, hopes of containing
the planet’s warming well below 2 degrees C–the headline target
of the Paris Agreement–are fading.

“Why do we have to beg for money while delivering a service
that put carbon into the air? The only way that some people will
start reducing their carbon is when they have to pay. This is the
way this world works,” Geerlings-Simons said.

High Forest Cover and Low Deforestation (HFLD) nations hosted a
major conference in Suriname earlier this month.

The conference ended with the
Krutu of Paramaribo Joint Declaration on HFLD Climate
. Krutu—an indigenous Surinamese word—means a
gathering of significance or a gathering of high dignitaries,
resulting in something that is workable.

The post
‘No Way to Defend Ourselves Against the Onslaught of Climate
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
‘No Way to Defend Ourselves Against the Onslaught of Climate Change’