Activists call on UK to prepare CI for climate change

| 22/02/2024 | 73 Comments
South Sound during the surge earlier this month (photo credit: DoE)

(CNS): Following the Nor’wester that struck parts of the Cayman Islands coastline earlier this month, local environmental activists are urging the UK government to help implement preventative strategies to prepare these islands for a safer, more sustainable future as climate change begins to take its toll. A new report by Sustainable Cayman stresses the “impending catastrophe” of climate change, which threatens the tourism industry, the islands’ wider economy and the safety and security of Caymanians.

The report, Rising Tides, Departing Shores: Resilience Amidst Adversity for the Cayman Islands, which was prepared with the support of OnePlanet, outlines the current state of environmental risks and the impending challenges the people here face. It covers topics such as sea-level rise, infrastructure vulnerabilities, and the broader implications for local culture and Cayman as an international finance centre. 

Rickeem Lashley, a contributor to the report and a participant at COP28 in Dubai, described the urgency of the situation that is not currently being addressed. “Securing our future requires a pyramid of needs; the very basis of our survival is under threat, and we need a lifeline. We hope this report ignites a beacon of hope,” he said.

The lack of any tangible climate change action plans by the Cayman Islands Government has spurred the local non-profit organisation to begin a campaign highlighting the “dire situation unfolding” here and to enlist the support of the British government because, given Cayman’s status as a dependent territory, it “holds a significant responsibility to engage with Caymanians on matters of national security”.

“Despite the idyllic perception of the Caribbean as an untouched paradise of palm-fringed beaches, the harsh reality paints a different picture,” the NPO stated in a release about the report and their latest campaign. “Each passing hurricane season takes its toll, gnawing away at the coastline while rising ocean temperatures jeopardize the vibrant coral colonies that adorn our shores. The looming climate crisis has the potential to devastate low-lying islands like ours, and should therefore be a top priority for UK representatives.”

The activists believe that Cayman needs strategies to protect the country and its people. This includes starting to plan for evacuating the islands. They point out that before the end of this century, more than 70% of buildings here will be impacted by sea-level rise. Many homeowners are already finding it difficult to afford insurance, even if they can find a company willing to offer coverage.

The report stresses the mounting number of challenges and crises Cayman already faces, beginning with a critical housing situation. A significant shortage of affordable housing, on top of escalating property and rental prices, is putting a strain on residents in middle- and low-income brackets. The government’s efforts to build more affordable homes for local people are challenged by the real estate market dynamics and new residents arriving to work in financial services and construction, further exacerbating the demand.

As rising sea levels and more severe storms erode the coastline, residents living near the shore will need to be relocated. At this stage, there is nowhere to go, and the issue of managed retreat is something that oceanfront owners have so far been reluctant to even discuss. However, the report suggests that Caymanians may, in time, become climate refugees, and migration plans will be needed.

“Developing a migration plan for Caymanian citizens involves key considerations,” the activists stated in the report. “Priority lies in selecting host countries open to migrants, with cultural affinities and economic opportunities. Logistics, legal frameworks, and infrastructure coordination are crucial, adhering to human rights standards,” they added, suggesting Scotland as a potential destination, with its shared British heritage, linguistic ties, and a coastal culture that aligns with Caymanian seafaring traditions.

“Diplomatic negotiations should explore the feasibility of migration to Scotland, emphasizing historical and cultural connections,” the authors wrote.

As part of a wider Young Leaders programme, OnePlanet and Rewired Earth will provide an opportunity for Cayman Youth Ambassadors to present the report at an event at the House of Commons later this month. During this forum, UK Young Leaders will present their Climate Action Manifesto. Sustainable Cayman will share crucial insights from their report and engage with attending British MPs.

Aleigha General and Danielle Seales, youth ambassadors from the non-profit, will facilitate discussions on proactive climate change action and underscore the UK’s pivotal role in securing the future of the Cayman Islands.

See the report in full in the CNS Library and a summary below:


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Category: Climate Change, Science & Nature

Comments (73)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Quick! Replant the mangroves… wait, you can’t? Uh, oh…

  2. Anonymous says:

    A move to Scotland would be unrealistic. If Grand Cayman were to suffer sea level rise and become uninhabitable, the higher elevation Cayman Brac would be the first choice for emigration. Some people would personally flee the country, but that is a separate issue from the national level.

    Since the Cayman Islands is a developed country and yet one of the low-lying countries most affected by global warming, it is necessary to actively work to reduce CO2 emissions by promoting natural energy generation such as solar and wind power, electrifying cars and gas appliances, and making homes more insulated. Otherwise, we will not be able to ask other countries for their support and cooperation in combating global warming.

    Domestically, the creation and construction of land in low-lying areas must be regulated and planned relocations to higher ground must be encouraged. Areas near the coast are particularly vulnerable to the effects of global warming, so regulations regarding distance from the coast to buildings, elevation, and lot size must be tightened, and residents must be limited to wealthy individuals who can repair their homes on their own. A possible remedy for low-lying areas would be to permit new construction only if there is already a building on the lot, and to allow the ground floor to be used only as a parking lot.

    Protection of sandy beaches, such as Seven Mile Beach, can be effectively accomplished by constructing breakwaters parallel to the shoreline slightly offshore. The breakwaters can also be made into floating dikes to reduce environmental impacts. In addition, the development budget for Cayman Brac must be increased to encourage migration. In the long run, the relocation of the capital to Cayman Brac must be incorporated into the plan. If the majority of the population remains residing in low-lying areas, the country’s overall economy will suffer tremendous damage as sea level rise increases infrastructure development budgets, increases the total damage caused by flooding, and makes it difficult to obtain new insurance and mortgage policies.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Let them build the ghastly eyesores on the ocean, it’s a stroke of genius by CIG without even knowing it if you ask me.

    The developers build those sh!itty box condos aka flood walls, morons with more money than sense then buy them and CIG collects all the stamp duty when the morons buy them.

    Hey presto, we have a flood defence system installed at no cost to the country, so the normal, non-pretentious folk can benefit from the crappy box condos acting as our flood defence barriers.

    Put it another way, just imagine the damage that would have been caused to those picturesque cottages opposite Fin, had Fin not been built to be act as a flood barrier. Appreciate Fin is a grotesque skid mark on the landscape, but at least it protected quite a few of those old traditional homes down South Church Street. I’d rather grin and bear looking at the 50’s diner (aka Fin) v’s having my living room full of sea water and debris.

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    • Mumbichi says:

      Agree that those who build close to the sea should bear the burdon of their works via higher insurance costs.

      Insofar as the Brac is concerned, if you build or live on the lowlands, your insurance should be more than those who live on top of the bluff.

      Simple logic. What we should NEVER do is cause those who live inland or on elevations to have to suffer an increase of insurance when those who build in stupid places get damaged.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Where my relatives live in Gulf Shores in the U.S., their insurance is HUGE!!! That’s the way it should be. Their relatives who live inland pay much less and that is the way it should be.

        It seems like here, we all have to pay for the rich folks who build or buy right on the water. They should be made to self-insure if they are going to own there. My insurance has gone through the roof, and I’ve never once made a claim. How is that fair?

  4. Anon says:

    Also very sad to see the Jamaicanisation of public beach and awful food and other vendors. For me above climate change the biggest problems are the horrible gun crime and beach vendor people and the driving where people don’t indicate right when turning right at a roundabout or use the outside lane on the highway when the inside is available.

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    • Anonymous says:

      With you 100% 1.52..
      Common sense can deal with “Climate change” in Cayman. We don’t need UK to tell us not to build on the edge of the sea at sea level.
      However Cayman is being, and WILL be completely destroyed , by the tsunami of lawless Jamaicans who are unraveling the fabric of what was Cayman, faster than it can be weaved by the civilized people who live here.
      Our overpaid Jamaican parasite politicians don’t care, because they need the Jamaican voters to keep them wallowing in their seedy cribs.
      Stop importing Jamaicans, stop employing Jamaicans , common sense.

  5. Anon says:

    This has been a known issue for a long time. What have successive governments done to help prepare? Nothing. What have we done to help reduce our carbon impact? Nothing. CUC and Government have actively discouraged alternate sources for decades whilst promoting fossil based solutions. Now we go cap in hand to others for aid.
    And the best part is that we continue to develop and sell property that will be under water. Madness.

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    • Anonymous says:

      What do you suggest “we” do to prepare? Straight question.

      It is easy to castigate governments, and certainly this current one is a fine target. What do you care if rich people build in stupid places? I do not. However, I don’t want my insurance to be influenced by their stupidity.

      We are screwed, with or without the climate boogeyman.

  6. Anonymous says:

    When Cayman is submerged we will all (only real Caymanians) move to Cayman Brac, problem solved for free, no consulting fees, nothing.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    More drama from climate activists after a Nor Wester like we have seen many times over many decades.

    Just don’t build so close to the sea.

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  8. WBW Czar. says:

    The sky is falling!

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Climate Change is well underway at +1.52’C above pre-industrial. To be credible as subject matter experts, environmentalists should understand the relative low priority of rising sea-level mitigation. Single use plastic straw and point of sale bans, though easy policies to implement, are similarly not in the dire realm of policy priority. The reality is far scarier than that. Left unchecked by 2100, just breathing the air outside at over PM2.5, ug m-3 will be a struggle. Access to clean air, fresh water, sustainable food, shelter from rain acidification, are going to be base level priorities for billions of humans, and likely sooner. Nobody is going to be sandbagging Cayman.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    ‘The lack of any tangible climate change action plans by the Cayman Islands Government’…

    The perfect lead to a myriad of applications across the board that the CI Govt lacks any ability to address.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Jamaica..
    Mountainous, will be little affected by sea level rise overall and has large agriculture potential for future population growth.
    The socio-economic position could be improved upon in the +century of so before any migration would be needed.

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    • Anonymous says:

      In 2021, Jamaica had 1,474 murders, for a murder rate of 52 per 100,000 people, the highest murder rate in the world. But by all means try your luck.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    There is no evidence of sea level raise presently.

    CNS: Is sea-level rise exaggerated?

    And in Cayman – Sea inundation inevitable now, officials warn

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    • Anonymous says:

      Apparently, you don’t have to worry. Word it will not affect people already wet behind the ears.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I am already preparing the history and culture test!

    Q1. Why does no one like the English?
    (Please provide 5 of the possible 55million answers) 😂

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    • Anonymous says:

      They say please and Thank you.
      They stand in line.
      They show up to work on time.
      They drive with consideration for other road users.
      They don’t chop you with a machete if there is a disagreement.
      They don’t hold up grocery stores or invade homes.
      They don’t have multiple babies with multiple women whom they abandon.
      The list goes on….what’s to like about the English..?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t confuse the British with the English.
      The former continues to damage the good name of the latter.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Great way to start your migration to Scotland, tell the Scots about a shared ‘British’ heritage! 😂 With this sort of languid arrogance you just know this group are going to fail. 🤦‍♂️

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  15. Anonymous says:

    The really sad part is that we have the expertise on island. We just lack the leaders to accept and act on it.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    It’s about damn time for the UK to rule! long live King Charles!!

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  17. Anonymous says:

    did people forget the sun evaporate water? that is all water? including sea water! If the sun doesn’t fall out of the sky we will all be ok, this madness about climate change needs to be brought into check. We should all strive towards a healthy and flourishing planet naturally but its getting absurd now. Place in the US and Canada and Russia are literally freezing over. Somehow the warmer somewhere is the more ice forms (pun intended)

    CNS: See How does climate change affect the Ocean?

    Also, What’s the difference between weather and climate?

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    • Anonymous says:

      and when the sun evaporates water into the atmosphere, what happens next?
      You cannot lower rising sea levels by evaporating the water you dimwit.
      You WILL see the impact of global climate change in your lifetime. We are already seeing it in our rising insurance premiums.

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  18. Elvis says:

    Great article but theres nothing we can do. Just get ready. Some will loose homes and land very soon. Its worldwide

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Want UK to save you again as they did during Ivan (but turned away) and Pandemic, yet you hate those same ‘furruners’…

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  20. Guido Marsupio says:

    Sadly, there is NOTHING that the Cayman Islands can do to impact climate change. That said, we should nonetheless “do out part” but, more importantly, we need to prepare for the inevitable. This article is well written and well thought out. Kudos, Cayman New Service.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Well, you’re either going to be part of the solution or part of the problem. Decide what kind of person you want history to judge you by. Acquitting yourself of responsibility by saying you or I don’t matter, is resignation to the status quo. There’re plenty of choices every day we can make to reduce, reuse, refuse, or recycle. Appreciating the finite resources of the planet and capacity to absorb our wake, is part of this journey.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Glaswegians have never seen the sea except for when they go on holiday to Scarborough.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    I think I would like Scotland.

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  23. Anon. says:

    In the words of Sgt. 1st Class Billy Sole; We’re all gonna die.

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  24. Anonymous says:

    This is not a catastrophe of climate change, this is a catastrophe of allowing to build in the flood zone and destruction of protective natural ecosystems.
    Why should the UK be responsible for saving Cayman?
    Restore mangroves and stop building on the beach.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely right. Most erosion on the 7-mile beach is due to man-made structures. The groin at Margaritaville. The pool deck at the Marriot. Darts wall and royal palms. None of these should be allowed. They turn the sea from a depository force into an erosive one. I’d like to see fewer carbon taxes that hurt the average person’s pocket and more common sense. Stop building so close to the sea.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    the “impending catastrophe” of pollution of all bodies of water, including underground, air, soil, including underground and Space

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  26. Anonymous says:

    There is nothing wrong as the developers would not be pouring billions in here if there was a problem. Our government will lead the way forward.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The developers quickly recover their investments from the purchasers who are the ones left saddled with the disaster.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly so! The last thing any billionaire would do is to get the expert skinny on sea levels and climate impacts before investing millions and billions… Why would you bother?

      • Anonymous says:

        Here’s a little nugget fact. Oceana, that condo development that showed all the floating Tesla’s. Nine months for the underground electric supply to hook back up. Generator to keep the AC running so they don’t get mold in the units…and this was just a dinky Nor’wester. People pay attention.

        • Anonymous says:

          Is that the one just before town as you come from sunset house with the generator in the entrance?

    • Duppy says says:

      Developers nah interested in helpin Caymanian’s unless unna selling da illusion.

      Dec2023:…growing body of research that says Florida’s real estate market is in for big impacts as rising sea levels make flooding more common, driving down property values, making insurance pricier and mortgages harder to get.

      https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/climate-change/article282921933.html

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  27. Anonymous says:

    Scotland as a migration destination, 🤣. Personally, I think Bognor Regis would suit better. Besides, migrants might miss their dystopian concrete surroundings by then, but on the bright side Bognor is and will be equally as grim.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    an issue beyond the grasp of our poorly educated local officials….

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  29. Anonymous says:

    does our mla’s even believe in climate change?

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  30. Anonymous says:

    What a bunch of brainwashed fools climate change is a scam.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Well let’s be a little less crass about it, shall we?

      On the one hand, plenty of places around the world (eg parts of Europe, including the UK) are experiencing record high temperatures. That much is indisputable. But then the world has always experienced climate changes, there have always been wild weather events, and there’s no evidence there are more of those now than before – and to cite the recent norwester as evidence of anything is just plain panic-mongering since there were regular norwesters worse than that in the eighties.

      The big, big question, which I for one am undecided on, is if these changes are caused by human activity. I have no idea. It seems to be a question of blind faith nowadays: your average Joe has to pick yes or no. Some experts say one thing and some the other. And to those who observe that the vast majority of them say it is, I’d reply that the vast majority once thought the earth is flat. Bigger numbers does not mean bigger truth.

      So … you pays your money and takes your choice. But don’t deny that weather is changing. That’s just stupid.

      CNS: Regarding flatearthers, the educated (i.e. the people who understood the science and mathematics) have known for more than 2000 years that the Earth is a sphere. “Bigger numbers does not mean bigger truth” is very true, but we should be looking at WHO is saying what. In the case of climate science, we should listen to climate scientists, not the “expert” deniers on social media or Fox News.

      Pythagoras first proposed that the Earth was a sphere around 500 BC. Aristotle noted (around 350 BC) that ships disappear hull first when they sail over the horizon, Earth casts a round shadow on the moon during a lunar eclipse, and different constellations are visible at different latitudes, all pointing to a spherical Earth. Eratosthenes, in around 300 BC, estimated the Earth circumference to be 24,000 to 29,000 miles. It is actually 24,900 miles. Maths, eh! (“Math” for our American readers.)

      Although today there is a disturbingly high number of numbnuts on YouTube trying to convince other numbnuts that the Earth is flat, it was actually well known in the Middle Ages that the Earth was round.

      This might help with your other questions: Climate is always changing. Why is climate change of concern now?

      Do scientists agree on climate change?

      The funders of climate disinformation

      The people who want to promote climate denial for selfish reasons (money) can always find the odd “scientist” who can be funded to spout disinformation. Then they use those outliers, however much their work is discredited by people who understand the science, to pretend that the issue is not, in fact settled. It’s the same tactic used by the tobacco industry to pretend that cigarettes are not harmful.

      See The Tobacco Industry: The Pioneer of Fake News

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      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you CNS for trying to be the voice of reason and putting forward the facts. Sadly most people are too effing dumb to understand actual facts.

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