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Climate Change Impact On The Caribbean Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 1131 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The purpose of this brief is to provide accurate information on how climate change will impact Caribbean trade, business and the environment. Realistic mitigation and cost-effective adaptation measures for dealing with this phenomenon are needed. On one hand, climate change presents challenging potential environmental problems and threatens the very foundation of sustainable development and economic stability in the region (Nicholas, 2007 and Bueno, Herzfeld, Stanton, and Ackerman, 2008). Most globally acclaimed scientists predict a rise in sea level and temperature and occurrences of increased and intensified extreme weather events (Niles, 2010). Businesses will generally be impacted by increased cost of production due to heightened energy costs, reduction of raw materials and lower amounts of fresh water. On the other hand, climate change delivers unprecedented opportunities for the islands to benefit from much needed international funding and the liberalization of environmental technologies, goods and services that will ultimately lessen vulnerability and strengthen resilience.

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Climate change undeniably impacts trade. Its impacts are already being felt and will continue to be felt as a result of trade liberalization, trade agreements, environmental regulations and standards, and food security. Although the islands partake in several trade agreements and environmental regulations, these come with ‘strings attached,’ issues like green protectionism and reduced preferential trade regimes exist. The region is facing tremendous increased competition from food imports, particularly genetically modified foods. While these foods have the potential to strengthen the level of food security globally, it has disadvantageous trade implications for the region. Additionally, climate change can produce inconsistencies and reduction in the region’s supply of goods for consumption and export.

How will Climate Change impact Caribbean Business and the Environment?

Caribbean businesses, especially those that are agriculture and tourism related are highly susceptible to the potential positive and negative impacts of climate change. The climate is a key factor in determining the productivity level of agricultural produce. A few predicted positive impacts of climate change on agricultural production in the Caribbean are increases in the productivity of tropical crops, diversity of crops produced, and accelerated maturity growth (Peter Carte, 2009). As climate change occurs, its impact on business operations becomes less predictable. Any reduction in the agriculture yield directly affects the businesses bottom line and breadwinners’ ability to provide adequately for their family needs. (Joseluise, 2009). Likely negative impacts are increased infestation, crop damage, soil erosion, increased moisture problems and unreliable forecasting (Carter, 2009). Hence, the method of production and harvesting techniques used may have to be discontinued or upgraded as the case may be.

The tourism industry cannot sustain itself without a healthy environment. As a region, it is imperative that priority be given to the maintenance and preservation of the environment. This initiative can also serve to boost eco-tourism in the Caribbean. The negative potential change in the climate carries significant implications for tourism businesses and increases the cost of doing business. For example, rising temperatures will amplify the need for cooling appliances. If the snow cap decreases and flights to the region continue to become expensive, then visitors may seek cheaper destination closer to their homes. The unfortunate spin-off effect of this situation is decreased profits for businesses, high unemployment rates and reduced gross domestic product rates for countries.

Scientists suggest that climate change is linked to increased coral bleaching, oceanic acidification, coastal erosion, saline intrusion, loss of biodiversity, and extinction of species (AOSIS, 2009 and Sookram, 2005). This has far reaching effects on the environment, since coral reefs are the breeding ground and food source for many different types of species. Many locals depend on fish as their main source of protein and fishermen in the Caribbean depend on the coral reefs for the provision of their livelihoods in the form of fishing.

Recommendations for Trade, Business and the Environment

Thoroughly analyze regulatory measures and economic incentives targeted at addressing climate change issues, since they have long term implications for the region. In relation to trade, more research on emissions trading and alternative sources of energy is needed along with the incorporation of climate change mitigation initiatives in all future development policies.

Business as usual cannot be the mantra, climate change calls for decisive and wise decision making. The education system and local media can be used to share information on the positive and negative impacts of climate change. In order to mitigate future impacts on business and the environment, there is a dire need for enforcing stricter building codes, purchasing comprehensive insurance and constructing sea walls where necessary (Mc Donald, 2010 and Economics of Climate Adaptation, 2010). Possible means of adaptation for the agriculture industry are strengthening of the water supply system, changes in production technology and introduction of new crop varieties (Vega, 2008).

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Tourism industry businesses need to implement and execute a decisive strategy for the way forward in dealing with climate change issues. Additionally, a more environmentally friendly tourism model is needed. For instance, they can use alternative sources of energy (solar and wind) in facilities, utilize energy conservation technologies, cease further coastal tourism development and acquire environmental certification (Sookram, 2005). Intensive carbon producing businesses should immediately begin lessening their carbon footprint in order to prevent further environmental damage.


Every individual, household, business, community, and government in the Caribbean region needs to adhere to the urgent appeal to mitigate the potential impacts of climate change. A joint regional collaborative effort is immediately needed; the success of future generations depends on how the region responds to the issue of climate change impact on trade, business and the environment. In light of the thorough analysis of the facts presented here, one can definitely conclude that climate change challenges can be overcome if adaptation and mitigation measures are immediately put into place. The time for action is now!


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