What Obama Said About Climate Change in Cuba

Photo: lazyllama /
Photo: lazyllama /

It will have been hard to miss: this week, Barack Obama was the first American president to visit Cuba in almost 90 years. The Daily Planet has a round up of what he said about climate change.

Although the Caribbean nation’s fleet of fifties-era cars could be a bit more energy efficient, Cuba has worked on addressing climate change since the nineties. The world could even learn a few things from the way the country faced challenges with its food supply and farming system at the end of the Cold War, an article on Slate argues.

European countries already work with Cuba on climate change in areas such as sustainable agriculture, food security, hurricane response and disaster preparedness.

So with the Cuban-American relationship finally defrosting, what did Obama say about climate change while in Havana?

Climate priorities

During Monday’s press conference with president Rahul Castro, Obama said:

“Our governments will (…) work together to protect the beautiful waters of this region that we share. And as two countries threatened by climate change, I believe we can work together to protect communities and our low-lying coasts.”

In a statement also on Monday, the White House said the United States and Cuba intend to sign and “join the Paris Agreement as soon as feasible this year.”

The Obama administration said both countries want to cooperate on climate change in the areas of:

  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Ocean acidification
  • “Climate-smart” agriculture

Cuba and the US will share best practices, the White House says, and “lessons learned through international initiatives focused on adaptation and low emissions development.”

Sustainable prosperity

Yesterday, in a speech to the Cuban people from the Gran Teatro in Havana, Obama briefly touched on the broader topic of sustainability:

“I can tell you as a friend that sustainable prosperity in the 21st century depends upon education, health care, and environmental protection.”


The two countries are set to increase cooperation in agriculture, focussing on new agricultural technologies, agricultural productivity, food security and sustainable natural resource management, the White House confirmed.

Some of the common agricultural challenges faced by the US and Cuba include drought, heat stress, excessive moisture, longer growing seasons, and changes in pest pressure.

Practical solutions

Are you in Cuba and keen to work on practical solutions to climate change?

Last year, a 24-hour hackathon-style Climathon organised by Climate-KIC saw people across six continents work together simultaneously to solve the climate change challenges of 20 participating cities. Boston and Washington DC participated in the US and cities in Brazil, Chile and Colombia took part from South America.

A similar event will take place in 2016, get in touch with Climate-KIC if you’re interested in organising an event in Cuba.

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