Storm-struck St. Lucia's PM says islands need more to tackle warming

October 1, 2016 8:03 PM EDT

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By Sarah Peter

CASTRIES, St. Lucia (Reuters) - Small island states need financial help to help cope with extreme weather linked to climate change, St. Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said, as his Caribbean country recovers from flooding and landslides triggered by Hurricane Matthew.

Matthew hit St Lucia with tropical storm strength winds on Wednesday, and has since intensified to become the most powerful hurricane to cross the Caribbean in nine years, threatening Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba with 150 mile-per-hour (240 kph) winds.

It is hard to say whether a particular storm has been affected by climate change, but some scientists say warmer seas will lead to more intense hurricanes. Rising seas linked to warming are also expected to hit tropical island nations hard.

In Paris last December, nearly 200 countries agreed on a binding global compact to slash greenhouse gases and keep global temperature increases to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius.

"We are paying a very heavy price down here, we are not net emitters, we do not have economies that are large enough to solve the problem ourselves and we are dependent on the world," Chastanet told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

"Unfortunately we do not necessarily live in the most benevolent society."

Chastanet said the Paris deal, which is closer to coming into effect after EU nations said they would fast-track ratification, was a "huge breakthrough" symbolically. However, he was not optimistic it would lead to financial help for countries most at risk.

"Countries are ratifying deals but they are not ratifying funds," he said, calling the global climate deal a "contract of conscience."

The prime minister said agriculture in St. Lucia, a volcanic island in the eastern Caribbean, had been badly hit by Matthew.

St. Lucia's National Emergency Management Organization said interruptions to water supply after the storm were a serious concern.

St Lucia belongs to a group of 43 nations vulnerable to climate change that want the industrialized world to coordinate on financing to address climate change.

"We need to put a framework so we can take care of ourselves," Chastanat said. "Hopefully at some point we would be able to get monies behind the global warming effect."

(Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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