Students of Compassion Primary School in Yo Creek Village, Orange Walk District, Belize visited the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) on Friday, November 20. The teaching team that accompanied the students were elated, noting: “It is never too early to learn about climate change and that is why we wanted the children to visit … Continue reading
Three major plans are in the pipeline for Antigua and Barbuda as the country continues to lead the charge in the fight against soaring electricity bills, climate change, global warming and greenhouse gases.
While addressing a recent media session at the Environment Department, Minister of the Environment Molwyn Joseph announced that within the next 15 years, there will be a new standard for the importation of motor vehicles and appliance, a national waste energy plant as well as a renewable energy grid.
“By 2030, we aim to establish efficiency standards for the importation of all appliances and vehicles, by 2020, with international assistance, we aim to finalise technical studies with the intention to construct and operate a waste energy plant by the year 2025 and by 2030 we hope to achieve an energy matrix with 50 megawatts of electricity from renewable resources both on and off grid in the public and private sectors,” Joseph stated.
He noted that consumers in Antigua and Barbuda pay some of the highest electricity bills in the world and the national energy policy seeks to exploit local energy resource and reduce fossil fuel dependency.
Joseph also highlighted plans to preserve the country’s wetlands and watersheds, saying that he will use all means necessary to protect the nation’s water sources, including updating of the island’s building codes.
“By 2030 our aim is to ensure that all remaining wetlands and watershed areas with Carbon sequestration potential are protected as Carbon Sinks and by 2020 we hope to update the building code to meet projected impacts of climate change,” Minister Joseph remarked.
He urged citizens that as the country embarks on this new journey, they should not be worried or overwhelmed by this looming wave of change but rather, to ride this climate wave together.
Credit: Caribbean News Service
OECS leaders converged in Roseau, Dominica, to participate in a major summit.
Heads of state of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) began their two-day 62nd Authority meeting in Dominica on Wednesday, hoping to tackle issues such as health, climate change, food security and access to funding.
The heads of government chose Dominica for the meeting, as a show of solidarity with the country which is still reeling from the passage of Tropical Storm Erika in August. The storm battered the country; causing floods and landslides that claimed 30 lives and decimated homes and infrastructure.
It comes as the Caribbean islands prepare to make their case at COP21 in Paris. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says the talks are the region’s hope for concrete action to guard against the impacts of climate change.
“We believe that this is the last opportunity for us to conclude a lasting, binding legal agreement on climate change. For too long I believe we have kicked the can down the road at the end of every summit which we’ve had on climate change,” he said.
The Caribbean leaders will discuss a range of issues including health, climate change, food security and access to funding. Chairperson of the OECS Authority, Grenadian Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell says the problems are numerous.
He told the opening ceremony that, “The persistent threats of global terrorism, the challenged fiscal circumstances of virtually old members of our economic union, the persistent ravages of natural disasters, the systemic threats of global warming and climate change, the restlessness of our youth and the undaunted aspirations of our people for high standards of living or much higher ones, remind us of our economic union and the OECS is the correct response and the platform for development.”
The OECS’ director general, Didacus Jules, says while the grouping faces many challenges, there are indications of positive change, chief among them the increase in south-south cooperation.
“With more institutionalized forms and structures opening new avenues for foreign direct investment in the south and new options for development support, the emergence of ALBA, the emergence of the BRICS and their establishment of the new US$100 billion development bank can break the hegemony of western multilaterals,” said Jules.
The heads of government are also expected to discuss the application by French Caribbean Territories for membership in the OECS, as well as a proposed strategy for Dominica’s recovery and a proposal for OECS future disaster responsiveness.
On Thursday, they are scheduled to tour communities that were severely impacted by Tropical Storm Erika and engage with residents at a town hall meeting.
Credit: Telesur TV
The text is comprised of a draft agreement and a draft decision, with provisions that could go in either, together with areas covered in previous talks, including mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, finance, and technology.
Without that document, which increased from 20 to 51 pages after the October 19 to 23 meeting of delegates, held in Bonn, Germany, it would likely have been even more challenging to secure a meaningful agreement, given political and economic considerations that have in the past impeded progress.
“We had a text that emerged in the first week in October that was supposed to have satisfied the mandate given by the parties to the co-chairs for the preparation of a negotiating text. What emerged was deemed other than satisfactory,” explained Jamaica’s seasoned negotiator Clifford Mahlung.
“It was considered by many parties, including Jamaica and AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), that the content was unbalanced. It did not include most of the concerns of the developing countries, and it was decided that this would be communicated to the co-chairs,” he added.
Developing countries, including small-island developing states such as Jamaica and others of the Caribbean, are among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts – including extreme weather events, sea level rise, and the associated loss of livelihood and overall quality of life.
This is despite their not having significantly contributed to the greenhouse gas emissions that have landed the world in the fight to stave off global warming from which these impacts stem.
According to Mahlung, given these realities, developing countries were not prepared to accept the text as it was – with critical elements being absent, including specific reference to the links to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), appropriate provisions for loss and damage and, critically, 1.5 degrees Celsius, among other numbers, as the global target to contain global temperatures.
“It was pointed out that this couldn’t be the basis for any negotiations, because it never included our concerns as developing countries and until that was corrected, we would have difficulty accepting the text,” he told The Gleaner.
And so it was that the meeting of some 1,300 delegates gathered for the Bonn session of the so-called ‘Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action’ was used to adjust rather than begin full-on negotiations on the document.
The revised document, Mahlung revealed, now:
– makes clear that the new agreement is an extension of the UNFCCC; and
– includes specific targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction, including that being advanced by the Caribbean and AOSIS – 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“We also see a better way of addressing adaptation and the support that will be required for any changes anticipated in the coming years. Specifically, there is now a process for the inclusion of a goal of addressing adaptation in countries,” the negotiator noted.
Among other things, he said: “Loss and damage [now] has its own articles and reflects the AOSIS position, which includes the need to compensate irreversible losses associated with extreme weather, such as super hurricanes, sea level rise and ocean acidification.”
However, with a draft text now back in play, there is still some way to go.
“We have a text that is acceptable by everyone, but it still has to be negotiated … , still requires hours and hours of intense negotiations for what is to become a final agreement,” Mahlung advanced.
It is a position reflected in a statement from Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC Christiana Figueres.
“We now have a balanced and complete party-owned text. The challenge facing governments is to bring it down to a much more concise, clear, and coherent structure, with a view to its adoption in Paris,” she said in an October 23 press release issued by the UNFCCC newsroom.
Credit: The Gleaner
Natural disasters are also likely to disproportionately affect the poor in the region.
The report, Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty, finds that poor people are already at high risk from climate-related shocks, including crop failures from reduced rainfall, spikes in food prices after extreme weather events, and increased incidence of diseases after heat waves and floods. It says such shocks could wipe out hard-won gains, leading to irreversible losses, driving people back into poverty
Climate change is already preventing people from escaping poverty, and without rapid, inclusive and climate-smart development, together with emissions-reductions efforts that protect the poor, overall there could be more than 100 million additional people in extreme poverty by 2030.
The report, released a month before negotiators gather in Paris for international climate talks, finds that the poorest people are more exposed than the average population to climate-related shocks such as floods, droughts, and heat waves, and they lose much more of their wealth when they are hit.
In the 52 countries where data was available, 85 percent of the population live in countries where poor people are more exposed to drought than the average. Poor people are also more exposed to higher temperatures and live in countries where food production is expected to decrease because of climate change.
“This report sends a clear message that ending poverty will not be possible unless we take strong action to reduce the threat of climate change on poor people and dramatically reduce harmful emissions,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “Climate change hits the poorest the hardest, and our challenge now is to protect tens of millions of people from falling into extreme poverty because of a changing climate.”
Agriculture will be the main driver of any increase in poverty, the report finds. Modelling studies suggest that climate change could result in global crop yield losses as large as five per cent by 2030 and 30 per cent by 2080. Health effects – higher incidence of malaria, diarrhea and stunting – and the labour productivity effects of high temperatures are the next-strongest drivers.
In focusing on impacts through agriculture, natural disasters and health, the report calls for development efforts that improve the resilience of poor people, such as strengthening social safety nets and universal health coverage, along with climate-specific measures to help cope with a changing climate, such as upgraded flood defences, early warning systems and climate-resistant crops.
At the same time, the report says an all-out push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is needed to remove the long-term threat that climate change poses for poverty reduction and such mitigation efforts should be designed to ensure that they do not burden the poor. For example, it said, the savings from eliminating fossil fuel subsidies could be reinvested in assistance schemes to help poor families cope with higher fuel costs.
“The future is not set in stone,” said Stephane Hallegatte, a senior economist at the World Bank who led the team that prepared the report. “We have a window of opportunity to achieve our poverty objectives in the face of climate change, provided we make wise policy choices now.”
The report also reviews successful policy solutions to show that good development can protect the poor from shocks.
Credit: Caribbean 360
The Saint Lucia chapter of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN), a network of environmentally conscious young adults, recently launched its “1.5 to Stay Alive” statement and petition on the popular global Change.org platform.
The group is aiming to attract over one million signatures by the end of the month. They have since distributed within the global GEF SGP system with 124 countries and over 20,000 CSOs.
View the petition here.
Within recent times, the Region has experienced more frequent and severe storms and hurricanes, increases in mosquito-borne diseases, rises in sea level, prolonged periods of drought and salt water intrusion of coastal groundwater sources, which pose a significant threat to human health.
Recognizing the critical need to be more climate change resilient, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), UNEP-Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP CAR-RCU), and the Government of Saint Lucia, will host a Conference to address issues related to climate change and health.
At the same time measures like alternative transport such as biking and walking and rapid mass transport can improve population health, mitigate climate change through reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy security, and reduce the import bill for oil.” He added that the Conference “will bring together government representatives, and regional and international organizations to address issues of public health, environment and socio-economic well-being.”
The meeting, which will be held at the Golden Palm Conference Centre in Saint Lucia, runs from November 18 – 20 November, 2015, and will serve as a platform for information-sharing, and also as a “think tank” for developing innovative, Caribbean-specific solutions to our environmental health and sustainable development challenges.
Agenda items include discussions on preparations for Zika Virus and recent experiences with Chikungunya; food and water security; achievements of the Caribbean Cooperation for Health III; and a Caribbean Environmental Health Officers and Partners Planning Session.
Credit: St. Lucia News Online
** This is a press release from SIDS-DOCK/CCREEE PRESS RELEASE – The hundreds of people who attended the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on the morning of 28 October, were overcome by the impressive display of Barbadian youth and energy, and a demonstration of pure Caribbean culture and resilience that heralded the official inauguration of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable … Continue reading
Agriculture officials say a variety of the dasheen plant has proven to be resistance to drought and soil with high salinity and could provide be beneficial to the Caribbean where the agricultural sector depends on seasonal rainfall. “This crop is already tested in the Caribbean, it was planted in Trinidad and the feedback is very … Continue reading
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved a technical assistance grant to Belize to help make the country’s water sector less vulnerable to climate change impacts.
“Investing in the water sector is critical to the economic and social development of our borrowing member countries, including Belize. This grant reinforces CDB’s commitment to helping the Region respond to the new challenge climate change presents to water security,” said Andrew Dupigny, director of projects (acting), CDB.
In Belize, where climate change impacts threaten the water sector, Belize Water Services Limited (BWS) must take actions to improve resilience and integrate climate change considerations in its operations.
The grant from CDB will help finance consultancy services to support BWS’ efforts to:
• Develop a climate risk and vulnerability assessment (CRVA) for three water system;
• Formulate an adaptation plan of action responding to the vulnerabilities identified;and
• Build the necessary capacity for BWS to conduct CRVAs of their remaining systems.
Through the grant funding, BWS staff will be trained in performing CRVAs. The training covers a range of topics such as strategies for climate change adaptation planning; identifying, characterising and prioritising climate risks; strategies for managing climate vulnerabilities; and preparation of an adaptation plan of action.
In 2014, an assessment of the water sector in the Caribbean funded by CDB showed that a more standardised assessment, monitoring and reporting process is needed to make the water and sanitation sector in Belize more resilient to climate change impacts.
Grant funding for this project totals US$134,000 and comes from the Bank’s Special Funds Resources.