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Camille: Gov’t committed to the environment; Kamla should leave climate out of petty politics

“[…] Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, in his address which aired on local news channels in Trinidad and Tobago and is available on the UN’s website, spoke of the need to raise climate change ‘adaptation, ambition and action’ while working for the survival of not just mankind but all species.  

“Does that sound like someone out to vacation and have ‘a good time’ at taxpayers’ expense?”

The following Letter to the Editor, which isin response to Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s criticism of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s appearance at the World Leaders Summit COP 26, was submitted to Wired868 by Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis:

Photo: United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) greets Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley as he arrives for the COP26 World Leaders Summit of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference at the SEC, Glasgow.
(Copyright Karwai Tang/ UK Government)

As planning and development minister, I would not expect the same inanity that Kamla Persad-Bissessar displays in Parliament to rear its flaccid head under the guise of public concern. 

Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s recent facile comments about Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley ‘vacationing in Glasgow’ are unfortunate and out of touch with the reality facing not only Trinidad and Tobago but the rest of the world.   

As minister entrusted with the sacred responsibility of protecting the environment, I ask that the Leader of the Opposition stop seeking petty points to make up for her recent embarrassment in Parliament and accept the fact that climate change is no joking matter, or a matter with which to play petty politics. It is a matter of urgent concern regarding the extinction of all manner of life as we know it. 

I would also like to remind the Member for Siparia that this Keith Rowley-led administration has nothing in common with her government of yesteryear and so when the Prime Minister and ministers leave the country on government business, it is for no other purpose than that. 

Photo: Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis speaks in Parliament on 31 June 2021.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament)

Indeed, if I am not mistaken, I noticed more than a tinge of envy in her tone. However, I can assure the Opposition Leader this was not a UNC party cruise. This is serious business for serious people. 

The Honourable Prime Minister’s message was well received to significant acclaim for his contribution. Amongst world leaders, our Prime Minister was able to set the context for Trinidad and Tobago’s efforts to mitigate against the effects of climate change. 

Indeed, all of us here in Glasgow felt tremendous pride in the Honourable Prime Minister’s participation in the World Leaders’ Summit at the 26th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change called COP26.   

In my capacity as minister, I am the head of delegation for the high-level ministerial summit and the internationally respected Mr Kishan Kumarsingh, head of the Multilateral Environmental Agreements Unit of the Ministry of Planning, is the head of delegation for technical negotiations.  

Prime Minister Dr Rowley, in his address which aired on local news channels in Trinidad and Tobago and is available on the UN’s website, spoke of the need to raise climate change ‘adaptation, ambition and action’ while working for the survival of not just mankind but all species.  

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaks at the World Leaders Summit on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland on 2 November 2021.
(via Office of the Prime Minister)

Does that sound like someone out to vacation and have ‘a good time’ at taxpayers’ expense? 

As usual, Mrs Persad-Bissessar is out of touch with reality. Madam, the Ministry of Planning and Development has been, for the last six years, the Ministry with responsibility for the environment and this is supported by the Environmental Policy and Planning Division.

As planning and development minister, I wish to remind the Opposition Leader that, since 1995, Trinidad and Tobago took the bold step of establishing the Environmental Management Authority (EMA): an independent regulatory authority, in its commitment to developing a national strategy of sustainable development.

Furthermore, in 2018, the Government, in accordance with the EMA Act, updated Trinidad and Tobago’s National Environmental Policy, which was also laid in Parliament in November 2018. 

This Policy clearly articulates the priorities determined by the people of Trinidad and Tobago as critical to achieving environmental sustainability and, ultimately, sustainable development.

Photo: A Manzanilla beach is deserted during the Covid-19 pandemic in April 2020.
(Copyright Ghansham Mohammed/Wired868)

Vision 2030, which is the Government’s overarching development agenda that builds a pathway to the future, places the environment at the centre of social and economic development and the enactment of the Waste Management Rules is concrete demonstration of Government’s commitment.

Other elements of Government’s environmental agenda include the 2019 amendment to the water pollution rules, designation of our national bird (the scarlet ibis) as an environmentally sensitive species, establishment and support of a sea turtle task force, the development of a monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system to produce accurate, transparent, comparable, complete and consistent information regarding the emission and mitigation of greenhouse gases.  

We are also focusing on new cooling methods through district cooling and the continued phasing out of ozone gases in the refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) sector. Training of RAC professionals is ongoing.

Finally, I wish to emphasise that climate change mitigation is embedded in the national policy through the National Development Strategy (Vision 2030), where theme five is ‘Placing the environment at the centre of social and economic development’.  

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley shows off his community recovery team of Anthony Watkins, Hans Des Vignes, Jamaal Shabazz, Curtis Toussaint, Akosua Edwards, Nicola Harvey, Chris Leacock and then Community Development Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly in 2020.
(via Dr Keith Rowley)

It is part of the Roadmap to Recovery through Priority Area 5: ‘Building climate and environmental resilience and is a key part of Trinidad and Tobago’s commitments to attain the global Sustainable Development Goal #13, Climate Action’. 

 The Opposition Leader’s feeble salvo regarding Dr Rowley illustrates her lack of even basic research skills. The golf travel season is typically from April to October as November tends to be too frigid. A simple Google search would reveal the fact. 

Perhaps the Member from Siparia has socially distanced herself from the truth. As someone who recycles untruths, innuendoes, and insinuations, Persad-Bissessar should expound the same energy towards the planet. 

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  1. You all don’t even care about the poor man in Trinidad, you’ll care about the climate ? Gimme a break “Rowley voice”