A local artistes’ network that helped push for 1.5 degrees Celsius as the absolute limit for global temperature rise in the 2015 Paris Agreement has urgently called for more shade trees to cool down Jamaica from rising temperatures in a resounding endorsement of Jamaica’s National Tree Planting Initiative.
Voices for Climate Change Education, a network initiated and coordinated by Panos Caribbean, are expressing concern that eight years after the Paris Agreement, there is inadequate action from developed countries that they labelled the “biggest emitters of global-warming Greenhouse Gases”.
“Jamaica and other Caribbean countries are experiencing some of the hottest summers in recent history,” they stated in a Call to Action endorsed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Multi-Country Office in Jamaica and finalised on World Environment Day.
The artists, collectively known for producing the popular songs’ Global Warming’ and ‘Mother Nature Cries’ joined forces at the UNDP and Panos Caribbean’s ‘1.5 To Stay Alive Knowledge Forum and Jam Session‘ to hear updates on global warming and to renew their commitment as climate change education messengers to help Cool Down Jamaica. The group included Pam Hall, Anthony Cruz, Grub Cooper, Jerone Riley, Aaron Silk, Ras Rebellion, Mezmoore Fari, Oneil Scott, AKA Nazzle Man and Donn Gass.
The Place Too Hot
Arising from concerns about rising temperatures in Jamaica and in support of the National Tree Planting Initiative, the artistes specifically called for greater use of shade-producing trees to improve canopy coverage, carbon sequestration and temperature reduction in urban spaces; greater use and retention of shade-producing hardwood trees; and greater attention to cooling down the hottest communities in Jamaica by partnering on strategic shade-producing tree planting exercises for town centres, roadways, homes, and establishments. The group also called for expanding the number of green spaces and parks and promulgating policies and regulations to activate a robust circular economy to reduce plastic pollution while providing new sources of income.
The Voices for Climate Change Education artistes recommitted to music collaborations to educate the people about the risks of global warming and practical mitigation measures that can reduce climate change impacts.
Music is the Rock, And We Are Moses
UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio, recalling the power of the music message produced by the group for the Paris Agreement talks, said they must renew their advocacy because of worrying forecasts that the earth is on track to exceed the 1.5-degree limit.
“We call on artistes to once again produce the music message the world needs to hear – that Industrialised nations must reduce carbon emissions, and we on the frontlines must step up adaptation and mitigation actions to protect ourselves”, she stated.
In reiterating the artistes’ climate action mitigation calls to action, Ms Antonio announced that UNDP would increase canopy coverage at UNDP. They will join the National Tree Planting Initiative using trees donated by the Forestry Department. “We are committed to modelling the change we talk about while cooling our space and reducing our carbon footprint,” she disclosed.
Forestry Department Chief Executive Officer and Conservator of Forests, Ainsley A Henry, acknowledged Climate Change as an undeniable reality. He highlighted rising temperatures as a significant challenge to the environment and human well-being.
He said trees hold power to combat Climate Change impacts by acting as nature’s air conditioners. “By planting trees, preserving existing ones, maintaining their health, diversifying our urban forests, and recognising their multifaceted benefits, we can create cooler, greener, and more sustainable communities,” Mr Henry stated. He called for individuals and communities to join hands in embracing the power of trees. He also stressed the importance of working towards a cooler and healthier future for present and future generations.
1.5 To Stay Alive
Professor Michael Taylor addressed The 1.5 To Stay Alive Session at The UWI, Mona Climate Studies Group. He disclosed that global temperatures had already increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius and are already producing unfamiliar weather patterns. He cautioned that further temperature rise could mean unprecedented impact on climate.
UNDP is one of several organisations which supported the establishment of the Voices for Climate Change Education project. The project is pioneered by Panos Caribbean in 2009. Climate Resilience is one of four pillars in UNDP’s current 2022 – 2026 Country Programme.