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People must be aware of the threat of climate change — Holness

Friday, November 24, 2017

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ST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) — Prime Minister Andrew Holness says events such as the flooding in Montego Bay must be used as a platform to communicate with Jamaicans the great threat that we face from climate change.

“We can't necessarily say definitively that this (flooding) is due to climate change, but certainly it shows a significant variability in the weather patterns that we have become accustomed to,” Holness said.

Addressing the media following a tour of the affected areas in Montego Bay on November 23, Holness said he cannot recall any event happening with such great frequency as what has been taking place, as it relates to natural disasters.

The prime minister emphasised that Jamaicans have to become more aware of the issue of climate change, adding that it is important to note that it is generated by the actions of mankind.

“It is generated by how we choose to live… how we choose to build our houses and how we choose to dispose of our solid waste,” Holness explained.

The prime minister added that when infrastructure is built, particularly our gullies, they cannot be built under the impression “that this is a one in 10 years event.”

“These events that usually occur once a decade or once every 50 years are now occurring with greater frequency. We are going to have to build with much greater capacity,” he said.

Holness said when he looked at the North Gully running through the city (of Montego Bay), it would appear at first glance to be able to carry a high volume of water, instead of overflowing. “It is a fairly large piece of infrastructure, which can carry a significant volume of water. This time, however, it just could not carry the volume of water, so it overran its banks and flooded the town centre,” he said.

The prime minister said that flooding like what occurred in Montego Bay is bound to have a fiscal impact, adding that the Government will be forced to find resources “to expand the gully itself… ” “But there is also the issue of where people choose to live. A conversation has to be seriously had that we cannot live where we feel like. Living on the banks of gullies should not be where people choose to live,” he added.

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