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Hurricane survival guide to be launched at Montreal climate change conference


“June too soon, July stand by, August come it must, September remember, October all over” says a Caribbean rhyme where hurricanes are so common that generations of islanders have passed-along the poem.

Drawing upon the practical experience of these islanders and the latest academic thinking, Emma Tompkins and colleagues from the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia have written a guidebook to help the islands of the UK Overseas Territories and other regions prepare for the impacts of hurricanes, storms and sea level rise - predicted to change as global warming further influences the climate.

“While media networks made Hurricanes Katrina and Rita seem like a new phenomenon for 2005, the small islands of the Caribbean are hit each year and every year. I hope that other islands and regions can learn from the lessons and approaches that we have put into the guidebook.” said Dr Emma Tompkins who led the book and the research behind it.

The inspiration behind the guidebook is Dr Tompkins’ research in partnership with the Cayman Islands’ Government on better understanding preparedness for the impacts of hurricanes and climate change. Over the past 15 years the Cayman Islands has developed an exemplar hurricane strategy in response to increasing damages. It also recently confirmed its intention to the UK Government to sign the United Nation’s Framework on Climate Change and to join the UK’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. It is the only UK Overseas Territory to do so.

The guidebook describes in detail the reasons why climate change is creating risks for small islands, why small islands need to address the risks, and it offers methods for managing those risks. It provides information, ideas, tools and techniques to help people living on small islands prepare for climate change.

At the centre of the survival guide are eight elements for adaptation to climate change ranging from identifying responsibility for preparedness, through planning and legislation, to the science and the financing. Though primarily aimed at governments and public workers who want to learn more about the impacts of climate change and how to start preparing their island, it is also useful for other organisations and businesses who want to develop plans.

“We have had a good idea of what climate change can bring and we need to face-up to this and adapt. Adaptation and preparedness to extreme weather and climate change is a no-regrets policy” said Emma Tompkins. “By preparing a society and infrastructure you make yourself resilient not only to extreme weather but to other emergency situations as well”.

Dr Tompkins is launching the guidebook on the 1st December at the UN climate change meeting in Montreal, the first meeting since the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The event will also examine how preparation for climate is already occurring in the UK, other EU countries, southern Africa and small islands.

Asher Minns | alfa
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