Cuba Launches Cli­mate Adap­ta­tion Plan

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While the U.S. still has its head up the car­bon-en­ergy in­dus­try's butt, Cuba is mov­ing for­ward with mea­sures to adapt to the cli­mate changes which are oc­cur­ring more rapidly than pre­vi­ously pre­dicted.

Cuba's cli­mate-change adap­ta­tion plan is called Tarea Vida (Life Task) and was pre­sented at the re­cent UNESCO Gen­eral Con­fer­ence in Paris.

Life Task in­cludes five strate­gic ac­tions and 11 tasks. It has been in de­vel­op­ment for many years un­der the Min­istry of Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy and the En­vi­ron­ment and the Acad­emy of Sciences.

As a Caribbean is­land na­tion, Cuba is highly vul­ner­a­ble to drought, ris­ing ocean lev­els, in­tense heat, hur­ri­canes and rapid swings in tem­per­a­tures.

It is al­ready los­ing coast­line at the rate of 1.5 me­ters per year in sandy ar­eas and sea wa­ter is in­trud­ing into its fresh­wa­ter aquifers. In the first half of this year, 43% of the coun­try ex­pe­ri­enced drought while wa­ter re­serves de­clined by 39% to a record low.

Un­like some other is­lands, Cuba is an old hand at deal­ing with hur­ri­canes but as hur­ri­canes be­come more fre­quent, in­tense and de­struc­tive it is hav­ing to ex­pand its ap­proach, strengthen build­ing codes and al­lo­cate more re­sources to com­bat­ing the threats from hur­ri­canes.

Un­der Tarea Vida, the gov­ern­ment has banned fur­ther home con­struc­tion and agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment near the coast, will di­ver­sify crops, im­prove soil con­di­tions and in­tro­duce plant va­ri­eties re­sis­tant to the new tem­per­a­ture sce­nario.

Ul­ti­mately, Cuba will need to re­lo­cate some cities and move more food pro­duc­tion into pro­tec­tive struc­tures.

Cuba will also have to di­ver­sify its econ­omy and rely less on beach front re­sorts.

Cuba has been slow to switch to re­new­able en­ergy due to cheap oil from Venezuela and will need to catch up on in­stalling so­lar, wind, biomass and lim­ited hy­dro­elec­tric plants. With help from China, the leader in green en­ergy, it should be able to dra­mat­i­cally in­crease re­new­able en­ergy sources at min­i­mal cost.

If Amer­ica had in­tel­li­gent lead­er­ship it could trade expert con­struc­tion of new in­fra­struc­ture for the high qual­ity low-cost med­i­cal ser­vices that Cuba could pro­vide to needy Amer­i­cans.

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