Youth activist to be Cayman’s voice at COP26

| 29/10/2021 | 32 Comments
Cayman News Service
Dejea Lyons

(CNS): Overseas territories and other small island states will have very little representation at COP26, the major climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which opens next week, despite being extremely vulnerable to the effects of a warming planet. But at least the Cayman Islands will have eco-warrior Dejea Lyons (18), one of the founders of Protect our Future, present as she will sit on the ‘Oceans Panel’ as the student representative for all of the UKOTs.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is critically important to the future of the planet, but scientists are already warning that efforts to stop the rate of global warming at 1.5°C (2.7°F) may already have slipped away.

The world’s track record on agreeing to bear the economic and political pain to make the radical emissions cuts needed to hit that goal has been poor. COP26 will be heavily focused on agreements to cut the use of fossil fuels, but regardless of the outcome of the summit, it is evident that far more ambitious commitments will be required to reduce climate change to protect the planet and ourselves.

The financial world is not being much help in protecting the planet either. Despite “attracting a wall of money”, capital markets are failing to price in climate risks due to policy confusion and a lack of clarity, according to a new global survey by KPMG, which asked: “Can capital markets help save the planet?”

The answer appeared to be no. “There is currently no clear line of sight between climate investing and its impacts. Green portfolios have not yet equated to a green planet,” said Anthony Cowell, co-author and Head of Asset Management, KPMG Islands Group.

So far, no jurisdiction has an established set of rules that properly integrate environmental and social costs into companies’ financial reporting, particularly in ways that can assist the price discovery of climate risks, the financial experts said. “The invisible hand of markets needs to be matched by the visible boot of governments,” said Amin Rajan, the report’s co-author and the chief executive of CREATE-Research.

Here in Cayman, the impacts of climate change are largely being observed through beach erosion and lost marine habitat. Sea level rise is of particular concern to all small island countries, and as we face an uncertain future as a result of that, cleaning up our own back yard will require seismic changes here, too.

The creation of the Ministry for Sustainability and Climate Resiliency and a government led by a committed environmentalist puts the islands in a better position than it has been for many years. But six months since the election the problems of COVID are delaying the rollout of new policies to make the change necessary to prepare for what we will face. To date there has been no “visible boot” from our own government.

The ministry has been working with Lyons as she prepares to participate in the panel, and Premier Wayne Panton congratulated the student activist, saying he was confident she was carrying the torch for our three islands to the critical conference.

“Dejea has demonstrated a passion for our environment in the Cayman Islands, as do I as premier and minister for sustainability and climate resiliency, a ministry that is dedicated to a sustainable and healthy environment for our future generations,” he said. “I am so very proud that Dejea is standing up, speaking out and demanding that the world acts to secure her future and those to come for her Cayman Islands and our sister United Kingdom Overseas Territories. Dejea will make an excellent ambassador when she represents us and other OTs at COP26.”

Ahead of her appearance on panel, “Our Vision for Healthy Oceans – Raising awareness, protecting our oceans and taking climate change action in the Overseas Territories”, DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie met with Lyons over Zoom to discuss some of the challenges and strategies being considered here to tackle climate change and offer her support.

“Having young people’s perspectives is integral to the global conversation on climate change because it is literally their future that we hold in our hands,” said Ebanks-Petrie. “It was wonderful to meet such an intelligent young woman, passionate about making a difference. We wish her the best of luck as she meets with like-minded global peers and we look forward to learning what may come out of those discussions.”

Lyons was born and raised in Grand Cayman. She attended Prospect Primary and Clifton Hunter High, then graduated from the Cayman International School (CIS) in May 2021. The young activist is currently on an academic scholarship from the Ministry of Education, pursuing studies in Global Development and Sustainability at Bath Spa University in the UK.

She has an extensive track record of academic and extracurricular accomplishments. During her tenure at CIS, she served as vice president of Protect Our Future, championing various community initiatives.

“Since discovering my passion for the environment, I have been actively researching climate change and the impact that it will have on small island nations such as ours,” she said. “Sadly, however, once I became aware of these effects I quickly came to realise that hypotheses made by scientists have started to become a reality for our islands. This includes beach erosion, coral bleaching, stronger hurricanes and more. Witnessing these events occur has only fuelled my passion to help strengthen Cayman’s resilience against climate change, not only for myself, but for the future generations to come.”

Lyons said she was thrilled with the opportunity to represent the United Kingdom Overseas Territories at COP26.

“Not only will I be able to inform others on what the Cayman Islands has been doing to alleviate the impacts of climate change on our community but I will be able to listen and learn from experts and political leaders globally about their methods of resolving this global issue.”

Cop26 begins on Sunday and lasts until 12 November.

See the latest ad developed by the UN for the event below.

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Category: Climate Change, Science & Nature

Comments (32)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    lol @ comments here bashing China, Russia and India while conveniently forgetting that our northern neighbours that we are so keen to sell shorefront properties to actually consume 24% of the world’s energy despite making only 5% of the global population.
    according this BBC article we would need 4.1x Earths to continue Boomer level consumption rates.

    We really are so keen to drink up their propaganda and emulate their wasteful consumption and lifestyles. If we want to address the issue the USA needs to sack up too. Cayman should be brave enough to forge its own path and not get on the over consumptive practices that have led to our having a Mt Trashmore and waters choked with plastic.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Do you know why it’s named COP26? Because there have been 25 other UN sponsored conferences over the years that have accomplished zero to nothing. Two of the biggest players China and Russia aren’t even attending. China is building coal powered plants to supply an already under supplied electric grid and Russia’s major sources of income is oil and gas which it uses to control Europe. Then there’s sleepy Joe Biden who probably doesn’t even know he’s in Scotland who’s begging the Saudi to produce more oil. Let’s hope Panton doesn’t stand next to Biden as he might catch the stupid bug. A lot of jet fuel for private jets is being wasted to produce nothing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Disappointing that the Marshall Islands representative dominated UK prime TV today and not Cayman.

  4. It is being said that the Cayman Islands are vulnerable due to a rise in sea levels. However, unless there are actual data showing sea level rise around the Cayman Islands, this position is merely assertion and assumption, and not data. It is something however that can be investigated. Let us see the evidence that the tides are lapping higher on the shorelines than they did formerly. Let us see the evidence that once visible offshore rocks are disappearing under the sea over a period of years, becoming a greater danger to boats.

    If these things are not actually happening, will we have the courage to point it out? If we are claiming “data”, we will.

    In that case the coastline problems we are actually having would be shown to be of our own making, and in particular the outcome of supine governments and regulatory bodies that ignore the warnings of the Department of Environment to feed the various monsters that are sustaining them. The real problems would be shown to begin at home.

    • Anonymous says:

      And if the data show such a rise we should probably start gathering two of each animal. Meet you at the catboat club and let’s get to work!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, on matters of science, let’s all listen to the man who still believes in a Bronze Age mythology.


      • Anonymous says:

        Its still hundreds of years before the sea gets 100 feet further inland on Grand. So don’t worry too much about it.

    • Josh says:

      In the 1960s the cigarette industry facing evidence that their products caused cancer and heart disease designed a strategy called “doubt is our product”. It was a policy of just stirring doubt and questioning to delay action. That is the strategy sadly used by climate emergency deniers today.

      • Anonymous says:

        Climates change, they always have and will do. We are on a rock flying around with other rocks for millions of years

        • Polestar says:

          Except we evolved in a narrow ecosystem band and have contributed to steps that risk moving the climate outside of that band. Why don’t you go back to watching Fox News and stay there?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I appreciate there is beach erosion on the southern side of SMB. But has anyone noticed there is more sand on the northern side? Is it possible that sand constantly shifts, particularly after weather systems?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Try dealing with the dump, diesel power generation, diesel government vehicles, reliance on plastics, too many vehicles on the roads, excessive hire cars, efficient public transport, over fishing, poaching, destruction of natural forest and mangroves, over development, excessive use of concrete, poor housing and inefficient insulation, the list goes on and on.
    Then tell the Chinese and Russians to do the same.
    Waste of time and money.

    • Anonymous says:

      So true. Ironic the DOE drive around in 3 litre diesel powered trucks that rarely see business related items in the flatbed or passengers in the seats, (unless of course it’s private business).

    • Anonymous says:

      Weird to have to explain this, but societies can and should work to improve both local and global conditions simultaneously.


    • Anonymous says:

      Agree, and at the rate things are changing more people will be displaced or die and the rest will be forced to become more self sufficient and resilient. There might be another option to move off-world for future generations if we had more visionaries like Musk.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s a pipedream. Space travel is not for humans. Your overlord Musk knows this and why a.i is rapidly being developed.

        Think about it. History has shown humans “had” the will to explore even if it meant their demise. Sailing across open water without knowing if they’d reach land. Sending astronauts to the moon not knowing if the return journey would fail.

        What have we done since then? We’ve probably send more robots into space than humans the past 20 years out of curiousity, see what I did there?

        Think about it. Space isn’t the final frontier, it’s the end for simple bipdel fragile organisms.

        Colonize the red planet? It’s already started with the machines.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Ms Lyons. You represent hope for the world. Because of young people like you, no one can say our species has totally given up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Our species is the problem – 7.5 billion and rising. The most important climate change action that could take place is placing a moratorium on families having more than two children. Catholics, Muslims and the ignorant don’t believe in contraception though, so until they do I’m not going to worry about throwing away a plastic bag or two.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Cayman can’t even sort out solar, crazy. Start at home first.

    • Anon says:

      Mainly because the same idiots repeatedly get put into a position of power to run interference (intentionally or otherwise). Meanwhile people who actually know what they are doing and want to drive change continue to be ignored or marginalized.

      Facing those headwinds we will surely be hard-pressed to move from 3% to 70% renewables by 2037. Meanwhile some global cities plan to be net-zero by 2030 and some entire nations not long after.

      With that in mind it’s hard to see an 18 year old well-intentioned but ultimately powerless student being held up on a pedestal as being anything other than greenwashing while the vested interests continue to ensure nothing actually changes lest they make a dollar less than the millions they expect.

      • Anonymous says:

        Too much vehicles on the roads. Need to slow down importing so mamy big vehicles, like those that Ofreg drives. Big V 8 engines vehicles and 2 nd hand vehicles 100 % duties, 6 cylinders 75 % duties. 4 cylinders 60 % and electric/gas vehicle’s 25 % and full electric 10 % . Of course the Government not going to do that, They dont like doing things that made sense. They only want to yap, yap.

    • Anonymous says:

      How can you put down an 18 year young lady that is trying as opposed to your armchair comment that is crazy..go say that face to face to government and the greedy! Let’s see your face opposing the crazy that is going on!

    • Anonymous says:

      What are you doing besides trying to insult and discourage an 18 year young lady? You should be ashamed of yourself!

    • Anonymous says:

      She is starting at home as an 18 year young lady and starting out on her journey – go girl! Nothing beats a tryer…. What is your problem and what are you doing about it? And no, I do not know the young lady, and hope she disregards the thumbs down, you go girl!

    • Anonymous says:

      That means disbanding and or getting rid of CUC, OfReg, and the Lodge first

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sadly with China and India refusing to take part and burning more coal than ever, nothing will be achieved

    • Anonymous says:

      We’d be better of assisting our neighbors, like Haiti, from eliminating plastic bags. After storms, our waters are inundated with these plastic bags. For the Jamaican bashers, plastic bags have been banned there from 2019.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cayman loves an excuse to bash other island nations even though it isn’t one. Trying to reinvent the wheel is another silly trait too. Cayman thinks it’s so far ahead but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Endemic corruption has always helped preserve the backwards thinking status quo. It’ll be an vertical climb for this young lady to truly have an impact here, but at lease it’s lip service.

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