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.