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Collective action to care for the world

Sophia Frazer Binns

Thursday, April 22, 2021

THIS Earth Day, millions of people all over the world will join in the common cause to highlight the urgent need to protect our planet for future generations. This awareness should inspire us to transform how we interact with the natural world around us.

Successive governments have found the protection of our environment important and have enacted laws which seek to protect our island, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act, Forest Act, Beach Control Act, the Endangered Species Act, The Wild Life Protection Act, among others. Today, we continue that resolve to ensure that the world we leave for future generations is clean and healthy.

There is no doubt that Jamaica, like all other small-island developing states (SIDS), is feeling the effects of climate change in extreme weather conditions, agricultural productivity, rising sea levels, the economy and disease transmission.

The novel coronavirus pandemic, for example, has highlighted the fact that access to clean water is critical to our survival but unfortunately, access to potable water remains a challenge for many communities. This adversely impacts proper sanitation, good hygiene, and human health.

We must embrace our responsibility to preserve our planet. Today's environmental threats require the cooperation of all of us who inhabit this Earth. This is why 196 countries gathered in Paris in 2015 to sign an agreement to create a framework that reduces global carbon pollution with the hopes of creating a low-carbon future. Under the Paris Agreement, to which Jamaica is a party, we pledged to hold the global temperature increase to well below two degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

As we celebrate Earth Day, the Opposition is of the view that this is an opportune time for the Government to share with the public our obligations under the Paris Agreement, as well as its plans, programmes and activities to achieve those objectives. This Earth Day is an important moment to reflect on the need for political will to address one of our generation's greatest challenges.

We must recognise that greenhouse gases, just like viruses, do not respect national boundaries. The temporary gains resulting from the effects of the pandemic on industries and movement have resulted in less air pollutants from cars, less industrial pollutants, less noise pollution, and a decrease in street litter. This proves to us that with discipline and commitment we can accomplish our goals of reducing our carbon footprint on the environment. We must work together to find sustainable ways to build on those gains by restructuring while we rebuild our economies.

The People's National Party (PNP), having established the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), whose duty it is to manage and protect Jamaica's land, wood, air, and water, recognised the collective value of protecting our island. For us, action to protect the environment must be immediate. As the people's party we are committed to a green energy economy and the sustainable use and development of our natural resources.

Each of us has a role to play in ensuring that we do not pass on a world beyond repair to our children. On this Earth Day, let us all accept our individual responsibilities while we demonstrate collective action to care for the world we live in.


Senator Sophia Frazer Binns is shadow minister of land, environment and climate change.