According to the World Bank’s Global Carbon Project 2019, the latest figures for carbon dioxide emissions put T&T in second place worldwide.
Data released from the project on January 30 gives statistics for 2018 and shows that for T&T’s 1.4 million population, each person contributes 31.28 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
The World Bank project measures only CO2 emissions and does not include any emissions from land use or other greenhouse gases.
Although those numbers are alarming, T&T has consistently placed within the top ten contributors of CO2 over the last decade.
The top contributor for 2018 was Qatar- producing 37.97 tonnes per person.
CO2 emissions are responsible for global warming and climate change.
According to NASA, global warming is the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900) due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere.
NASA defines climate change as the long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates.
Over the last several years, T&T has been reeling from the effects of climate change, with more intense rainfall leading to more serious flooding events, hotter temperatures causing bush fires to burn more intensely for longer periods of time, destroying precious forest and rising sea levels leading to the destruction of our coastlines.
Guardian Media sat down with managing director of IAMovement, Jonathan Barcant to discuss the statistics and what can be done to lessen T&T’s impact on the global environment.
Barcant compared T&T”s emissions to that of other countries with others in the region and those with much larger populations.
“We emit about 40 million tonnes of CO2 annually, that’s about 200 times the amount that Dominica emits or 30 times as much as Barbados emits. Look at larger countries like Kenya, T&T is emitting the same amount as about 115 million people in Kenya, but Kenya is only 50 million people so we are emitting the same amount as two and a quarter Kenya’s,” Barcant said.
He acknowledged that the Government has been trying to get on board with the global effort to stop global warming by launching its Knowledge Management System (KMS) for the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system launched in 2019. The two systems were introduced as part of efforts to meet the requirements of the United Nations Paris agreement on climate change. The Paris Agreement, adopted by the UN in 2015 and signed by a number of member states since then, stipulates that countries must contribute to the global reduction of anthropogenic (man-made) greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
The Paris Agreement seeks to restrict global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels with aspirations to further restrict it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
T&T signed on to the agreement in 2018.