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A senior European Union (EU) official in the Caribbean said Europe is ready to continue the global leadership on the fight against climate change, including helping the poor and vulnerable countries in the region.
Underlining the challenges posed by climate change, Head of the European Union Delegation to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS, and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Ambassador Daniela Tramacere made it clear that the EU has no plan to abandon the extraordinary Agreement reached in Paris in 2015 by nearly 200 countries.
“The challenges identified in the Paris Agreement are of unprecedented breadth and scale.” –Ambassador Daniela Tramacere
“Climate change is a challenge we can only tackle together and, since the beginning, Europe has been at the forefront of this collective engagement. Today, more than ever, Europe recognises the necessity to lead the way on its implementation, through effective climate policies and strengthened cooperation to build strong partnerships,” Tramacere said.
“Now we must work as partners on its implementation. There can be no complacency. Too much is at stake for our common good. For Europe, dealing with climate change is a matter of political responsibility and multilateral engagement, as well as of security, prevention of conflicts and even radicalisation. In this, the European Union also intends to support the poorest and most vulnerable.
“For all these reasons, the European Union will not renegotiate the Paris Agreement. We have spent 20 years negotiating. Now it is time for action, the world’s priority is implementation,” she added.
The 2015 Paris deal, which seeks to keep global temperature rises “well below” 2 degrees C, entered into force late last year, binding countries that have ratified it to draw up specific climate change plans. The Caribbean countries, the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and the EU played a key role in the successful negotiations.
On June 1 this year, President Donald Trump said he will withdraw the United States from the landmark agreement, spurning pleas from U.S. allies and corporate leaders.
The announcement was met with widespread dismay and fears that the decision would put the entire global agreement in peril. But to date, there has been no sign that any other country is preparing to leave the Paris agreement.
Tramacere noted that together with the global 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Paris Agreement has the potential to significantly accelerate the economic and societal transformation needed in order to preserve a common future.
“As we address climate change with an eye on the future, we picture the creation of countless opportunities, with the establishment of new and better ways of production and consumption, investment and trade and the protection of lives, for the benefit of the planet,” she said.
“To accelerate the transition to a climate friendly environment, we have started to strengthen our existing partnerships and to seek and find new alliances, from the world’s largest economies to the most vulnerable island states. From the Arctic to the Sahel, climate change is a reality today, not a remote concept of the future.
“However, to deliver the change that is needed and maintain the political momentum, it is vital that the targets pledged by countries and their adaptation priorities are now translated into concrete, actionable policies and measures that involve all sectors of the economy. This is why the EU has decided to channel 40 percent of development funding towards climate-related projects in an effort to accelerate countries’ commitment to the process,” Tramacere said.
The EU has provided substantial funding to support climate action in partner countries and Tramacere said it will also continue to encourage and back initiatives in vulnerable countries that are climate relevant as well as safe, sustainable energy sources.
For the Caribbean region, grant funding for projects worth 80 million euro is available, Tramacere said, noting that the aim is twofold: to improve resilience to impacts of climate change and natural disasters and to promote energy efficiency and development of renewable energy.
“This funding will be complemented by substantial financing of bankable climate change investment programmes from the European Investment Bank and other regional development banks active in the region. With the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) instrument, the European Union already works with agencies in the Caribbean such as the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) or the Caribbean Climate Change Community Centre (CCCCC),” Tramacere said.
In November this year, countries will gather in Bonn for the next UN climate conference – COP23 – to continue to flesh out the work programme for implementing the Paris Agreement.
Next year, the facilitative dialogue to be held as part of the UN climate process will be the first opportunity since Paris to assess what has been done concretely to deliver on the commitments made. These are key steps for turning the political agreement reached in Paris into reality.
“The challenges identified in the Paris Agreement are of unprecedented breadth and scale. We need enhanced cooperation and coordination between governments, civil society, the private sector and other key actors,” Tramacere said.
“Initiatives undertaken not only by countries but also by regions, cities and businesses under the Global Climate Action Agenda have the potential to transform the impact on the ground. Only together will we be able to live up to the level of ambition we have set ourselves – and the expectations of future generations. The world can continue to count on Europe for global leadership in the fight against climate change.”
Caribbean countries are highly vulnerable and a significant rise in global temperatures could lead to reduced arable land, the loss of low-lying islands and coastal regions, and more extreme weather events in many of these countries. Many urban in the region are situated along coasts, and Caribbean islands are susceptible to rising sea levels that would damage infrastructure and contaminate freshwater wetlands.
Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency
Climate change remains inextricably linked to the challenges of disaster risk reduction (DRR). And according to the head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Robert Glasser, the reduction of greenhouse gases is “the single most urgent global disaster risk treatment”.
Glasser was addressing the Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the Americas. Held recently in Montreal, the gathering included more than 1,000 delegates from 50 countries, including the Caribbean.
“We recognise that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is arguably the single most urgent global disaster risk treatment, because without those efforts our other efforts to reduce many hazards and the risks those pose to communities would be overwhelmed over the longer term,” Glasser said.
The conference, hosted by the Canadian government in cooperation with UNISDR marked the first opportunity for governments and stakeholders of the Americas to discuss and agree on a Regional Action Plan to support the implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030.
The Sendai Framework is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action. It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR). The Framework is a 15-year, voluntary non-binding agreement which recognises that the state has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.
“The regional plan of action you will adopt . . . will help and guide national and local governments in their efforts to strengthen the links between the 2030 agenda for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction as national and local DRR strategies are developed and further refined in line with the Sendai Framework priorities over the next four years,” Glasser said.
The Caribbean is a minute contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions but will be among the most severely impacted.
The region is already experiencing its impacts with more frequent extreme weather events such as the 2013 rain event in the Eastern Caribbean, extreme drought across the region with severe consequences in several countries; the 2005 flooding in Guyana and Belize in 2010.
Inaction for the Caribbean region is very costly. An economic analysis focused on three areas – increased hurricane damages, loss of tourism revenue and infrastructure – revealed damages could cost the region 10.7 billion dollars by 2025. That’s more than the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all the member countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
At the Montreal conference, Head of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ronald Jackson was a panelist in a forum discussing the linkages between disaster risk reduction, climate change and sustainable development. He said the region needs to marry its indigenous solutions to disaster risk management with modern technology.
“We’ve recognised that in the old days, our fore parents…had to deal with flood conditions and they survived them very well. There were simple things in terms of how they pulled their beds and other valuables out of the flood space in the house in particular. This contributed to their surviving the storms with minimal loss,” Jackson said.
“That knowledge of having to face those adverse conditions and surviving them and coping through them and being able to bounce back to where they were before, that was evident in our society in the past. It has subsequently disappeared.”
CDEMA is a regional inter-governmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The Agency was established in 1991 with primary responsibility for the coordination of emergency response and relief efforts to participating states that require such assistance.
Another regional agency, the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) is collaborating with other agencies on the Caribbean Risk Management Initiative (CRMI).
The CRMI aims to provide a platform for sharing the experiences and lessons learned between different sectors across the Caribbean in order to facilitate improved disaster risk reduction.
“We see disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation as two sides of the same coin because to the extent we are able to enhance disaster risk reduction we are also beginning to adapt to climate change,” Dr. Mark Bynoe, the CCCCC’s senior environment and resource economist said.
He explained that there are a range of activities carried out specifically in terms of climate adaptation that will also have a disaster risk reduction element.
“We are looking at enhancing water security within a number of our small island states. One of the things we are focusing on there is largely to produce quality water through the use of reverse osmosis systems but we’re utilizing a renewable energy source. So, on the one hand we are also addressing adaptation and mitigation.”
Meantime, CCCCC’s Deputy Director Dr. Ulric Trotz said the agency is rolling out a series of training workshops in 10 countries to share training tools that were developed with the aim of assisting in the generation of scientific information and analysis to help in making informed decisions. These include the Weather Generator (WG), the Tropical Storm Model/ Simple Model for the Advection of Storms and Hurricanes (SMASH), and the Caribbean Drought Assessment Tool (CARiDRO).
The training will target key personnel whose focus are in areas of agriculture, water resources, coastal zone management, health, physical planning or disaster risk reduction.
“The CARIWIG [Caribbean Weather Impacts Group] tool is a critical tool in that it more or less localizes the projection so that for instance, you can actually look at climate projections for the future in a watershed in St. Kitts and Nevis. It localizes that information and it makes it much more relevant to the local circumstance,” said Dr. Trotz.
Training and application of the tools will allow decision-makers to better understand the potential impacts of drought, tropical storms, and rainfall and temperature changes. When combined with other data and information, they can help to build a picture of potential impacts to key economic sectors in the various countries.
Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency
Caribbean scientists say fishermen are already seeing the effects of climate change, so for a dozen or so years they’ve been designing systems and strategies to reduce the impacts on the industry.
While some work on reef gardens and strategies to repopulate over fished areas, others crunch the data and develop tools designed to prepare the region, raise awareness of climate change issues and provide the information to help leaders make decisions.
In December 2017, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) secretariat, with funding from the UK government, announced a Climate Report Card to help formulate strategies to lessen the impact of climate change on regional fisheries.
“The CRFM is trying to ensure that the issue of climate change as it relates to the fisheries sector comes to the fore… because the CARICOM Heads of Government have put fish and fishery products among the priority commodities for CARICOM. It means that things that affect that development are important to us and so climate change is of primary importance,” said Peter Murray, the CRFM’s Programme Manager for Fisheries and Development.
The grouping of small, developing states are ‘fortifying’ the sectors that rely on the marine environment, or the Blue Economy, to withstand the expected ravages of climate change which scientists say will increase the intensity of hurricanes, droughts, coastal sea level rise and coral bleaching.
In its last report AR5, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported: “Many terrestrial, freshwater and marine species have shifted their geographic ranges, seasonal activities, migration patterns, abundances and species interactions in response to ongoing climate change,” patterns that are already being noted by Caribbean fishers.
In an email to IPS, Murray outlined several initiatives across the Caribbean that ,he says are crucial to regional efforts. The Report Card, which has been available since March, will provide the in-depth data governments need to make critical decisions on mitigation and adaptation. It provides information covering ocean processes such as ocean acidification; extreme events like storms, surges and sea temperature; biodiversity and civil society including fisheries, tourism and settlements.
In addition, the 17-members of the CRFM agreed to incorporate the management of fisheries into their national disaster plans, and signed off on the Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy for the fisheries sector.
“It means that anything looking at climate change and potential impacts is important to us,” Murray says.
The IPCC’s gloomy projections for world fisheries has been confirmed by a 2015 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report indicating that for the last 30 years, world fisheries have been in decline due to climate change. In the Caribbean, reduced catches are directly impacting the stability of entire communities and the diets and livelihoods of some of the region’s poorest. Further decline could devastate the economies of some islands.
But even as climate change is expected to intensify the effects of warming ocean waters, pelagic species could avoid the Caribbean altogether, bringing even more hardships. So the regional plan is centred on a Common Fisheries Policy that includes effective management, monitoring and enforcement systems and tools to improve risk planning.
In addition to the disaster plan and its other activities, the Community has over time installed a Coral Reef Early Warning System; new data collection protocols; improved computing capacity to crunch climate data; an insurance scheme to increase the resilience of fishing communities and stakeholders; as well as several tools to predict drought and excessive rainfall.
Worldwide, three billion people rely on fish as their major source of protein. The industry provides a livelihood for about 12 per cent of the world’s population and earns approximately 2.9 trillion dollars per year, the WWF reports. With regional production barely registering internationally, the Caribbean is putting all its efforts into preserving the Blue Economy, which the World Bank said earned the region 407 billion dollars in 2012.
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, known regionally as the 5Cs, has coordinated and implemented a raft of programmes aimed at building systems that will help the region cope the effects of climate change.
Through collaboration with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the 5Cs has been setting up an integrated network of climate and biological monitoring stations to strengthen the region’s early warning mechanism.
And as the oceans absorb more carbon, the region’s supply of conch and oysters, the mainstay of some communities, is expected to decline further. In addition, warming sea water is expected to shift migration routes for pelagic fish further north, reducing the supply of available deep sea fish even more. Added to that, competition for the dwindling resources could cause negative impacts of one industry over another.
But while scientists seek options, age-old traditions are sometimes still pitted against conservation projects. Take an incident that played out in the waters around St. Vincent and the Grenadines a few weeks ago when whale watchers witnessed the harpooning of two orcas by Vincentian fishermen.
The incident forced Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to announce the end of what was, until then, a thriving whaling industry in the village of Barouille. For years, government turned a blind eye as fishermen breached regional and international agreements on the preservation of marine species. The continued breaches are also against the Caribbean Community’s Common Fisheries Policy that legally binds countries to a series of actions to protect and preserve the marine environment and its creatures.
On April 2, five days after the incident, Gonsalves took to the airwaves to denounce the whaling caused by “greed” and announce pending regulations to end fishing for the mammals. The incident also tarnished the island’s otherwise excellent track record at climate proofing its fishing industry.
Murray’s email on regional activities outlines SVG activities including the incorporation of the regional strategy and action plan and its partnership with several regional and international agencies and organisations to build resilience in the marine sector.
Over in the northern Caribbean, traditions are also testing regulations and international agreements. In Jamaica, the Sandals Foundation in association with major supermarket chains has launched a campaign to stop the capture and sale of parrotfish for consumption.
Scientists say that protecting the parrotfish is synonymous with saving the reefs and mitigating the effects of climate change. And further north in the Turks and Caicos, the government is searching for new ways to manage the conch and lobster populations. While trade is regulated, household use of both, sea turtles, and some sharks remain unregulated; and residents are resistant to any restrictions.
And while many continue to puzzle about the reasons behind the region’s climate readiness, scientists caution that there is no time to ease up. This week they rolled out, among other things, a coastal adaptation project and a public education and awareness (PAE) programme launched on April 26 in Belize City.
The PAE project, named Feel the Change, is funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Project (J-CCCP) public awareness programme. Speaking at the launch, project development specialist at 5Cs, Keith Nichols, pointed to the extreme weather events from severe droughts to changes in crop cycles, which have cost the region billions.
“Climate change is not just sea level rise and global warming; climate change and climate variability is all around us,” he said.
Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency
The Department of Environment recognizes climate variability and climate change to be two of the most significant threats to sustainable development in St. Kitts and Nevis. Against this backdrop, a number of persons from various fields throughout the federation are currently attending an eight day National Training Workshop in the Use of Climate Models for Decision Making.
The workshop, which runs from April 19-28, is held under the auspices of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
June Hughes, Senior Environment Officer at the Department of Environment, said that the training is timely, as climate change continues to be a clear and present danger. She noted that the department is working closely with regional and international partners to ensure that persons are aware of the dangers that exist.
“We in the Department of Environment have been working to raise awareness on the impacts of climate change, while taking advantage of every capacity building opportunity to improve our adaptive response have strengthened our mitigation measures,” she said. “Each training, workshop and meeting strengthens our country to address and reduce the impacts of climate change.”
Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor at CCCCC, explained that the workshop would first be rolled out nationally in all 10 countries under the USAID banner, after which regional workshops will be held. He made mention of specific training tools that were developed with the aim of assisting in the generation of scientific information and analysis to help in making informed decisions. These include the Weather Generator (WG), the Tropical Storm Model/ Simple Model for the Advection of Storms and Hurricanes (SMASH), and the Caribbean Drought Assessment Tool (CARiDRO).
“The CARIWIG [Caribbean Weather Impacts Group] tool is a critical tool in that it more or less localizes the projection so that for instance, you can actually look at climate projections for the future in a watershed in St. Kitts and Nevis. It localizes that information and it makes it much more relevant to the local circumstance,” said Dr. Trotz.
The deputy executive director encouraged participants to acquire all the knowledge necessary, as it is the presenters hope that at the end of the training “a cadre of technical skills” would be developed in St. Kitts and Nevis and the region on whole that would help to deal successfully with the challenges faced from climate change.
Training and application of the tools will allow decision-makers to better understand the potential impacts of drought, tropical storms, and rainfall and temperature changes. When combined with other data and information, they can help to build a picture of potential impacts to key economic sectors in the country. The training will target key personnel whose focus are in areas of agriculture, water resources, coastal zone management, health, physical planning or disaster risk reduction.
Credit: ZIZ Online
Belmopan, Belize; August 26, 2016 –
According to Belize policy targets, the country aims at increasing its share of renewable energy. Till now Bioenergy, especially Biogas, is not utilized on industrial scales in Belize. To help achieve this goal and build capacity in this sector, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in cooperation with GIZ REETA had offered a free of charge BIOENERGY Course at its training Centre in the country’s capital, Belmopan and at the Bio Energy Laboratory which is housed at the University of Belize.
Bioenergy as a renewable energy resource offers many advantages: It can be converted into various forms of secondary and final energy. Biomass, the primary energy source, can be transformed into solid, liquid and gaseous energy carriers. The combustion of these energy carriers can produce heat, cold, electricity, mechanical power or a combination of these. Even better than this, bioenergy is storable, so it can be converted right at the time when energy is needed to balance the differences between energy supply and demand.
Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Director of the CCCCC and Dr. Ulric Trotz , Deputy Director of the CCCCC both welcomed the participants and thanked GIZ for their contribution. They also thanked Henrik Personn, the integrated expert from CIM/GIZ, for his efforts especially in the Capacity Building and Waste to Energy Sector in Belize. The course was directed by Tobias Sengfelder of GoGreen Ltd.
Participation came from the Belize Solid Waste Management Authority, BELTRAIDE, Belmopan Comprehensive High School, the University of Belize, ITVET and the Spanish Lookout Power Plant. Participants successfully completed the course and received a certificate that demonstrated their ability to plan, prepare and conduct Bioenergy training seminars and implement bioenergy projects to high standards. These seminars provided an excellent opportunity for professional development in the renewable energy field, while ensuring the sustainable use of knowledge.
Alton Daly, an intern at the CCCCC said “The course was very informative. We learned to make use of different biomass resources such as sugar cane and corn. I think it is something we can use throughout the Caribbean and not only here in Belize. It seems to be very useful. It is something we should continue to look into.”
The head of the Belmopan Comprehensive High School Science Department, Jeneva Jones, felt that “It was very informative about how to create electricity from different biomass that is readily available to us. We need to put more people in the science field to ensure that the use of bioenergy becomes viable.”
Ryan Zuniga, a lecturer at the University of Belize also had high hopes after completing the course. He said “Seeing the output of such a system will garner far more support for science and research. It will assist us in developing ways to curb our energy cost and mitigate against climate change. I think it is something that would be very useful at UB and at the lower levels of the education system.”
These seminars provided an excellent opportunity for professional development in the renewable energy field, while also ensuring the sustainable use of knowledge. Participants who successfully completed the course, in addition to receiving a certificate, are now able to plan, prepare and conduct Bioenergy training and implement bioenergy projects to high standards.
The successful participants included:
Ryan Zuniga, UB Lecturer
Jeneva Jones, Head of Science Dept., Belmopan Comprehensive High School
Ana Hernandez, Agricultural Science Teacher, Belmopan Comprehensive School
Jorge Chuck, ITVET Manager, Belize City
Gilroy Lewis General Manager, Belize Solid Waste Management Authority
Jomo Myles, Student and Sugar Industry Stakeholder
Jake Letkeman, General Manager, Farmers’ Light Plant Corporation, Spanish Lookout
Shahera Mckoy, Manager, Beltraide
Nicole Zetina, Project Manager, Beltraide
Photos of the seminar can be downloaded at the Centre’s Flickr page.
Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre delivered a presentation on Belize and the International Response to Climate Change at the Second Part of the Energy of nature vs the Nature of Energy Conference Series which was held at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City, Belize on 27 July 2016. Fuller’s presentation focused on Belize’s vulnerability to climate change, the international response to climate change and Belize’s contribution to the Paris Agreement. Carolyn-Trench Sandiford spoke about the importance of planning to adapt to climate change. Roberto Pott delivered a presentation on the impacts of climate change on Belize’s coastal and marine resources while Ansel Dubon spoke about Belize’s efforts to transition to renewable energy. The guest speaker was Dr. Patricia Majluf, Vice President of Oceana Peru, who provided reflections on the impacts of climate change on Peru’s fishing industry.
The conference was opened by the Honourable Omar Figueroa, the Minister of Sate in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Environment and Sustainable Development in Belize. The conference was organized by Oceana Belize and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The SIDS DOCK executive council held its first meeting on Thursday, 16 June 2016, chaired by Dr Vince Henderson, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary and permanent representative of Dominica to the United Nations.
Other elected members of the Council include vice chairs, Ronnie Jumeau, climate change ambassador, Seychelles, and Sione Foliaki, assistant chief executive officer, Energy Policy Coordination and Management Division, Ministry of Finance, Samoa.
Dr Rhianna M. Neely-Murphy, ministry of environment and housing, The Bahamas, was nominated rapporteur. The meeting was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Barbados to the UN.
The first meeting of the executive council represents an historic moment in “SIDS-SIDS” relations in terms of the urgent need to invest in building climate change resilience in small island developing states (SIDS).
SIDS DOCK is designed as a “DOCKing station,” to connect the energy sector in SIDS with the global market for finance, sustainable energy technologies and with the European Union and the United States carbon markets, and able to trade the avoided carbon emissions in those markets. Estimates place the potential value of the US and EU markets between US$100 to 400 billion annually.
With the entry into force of the SIDS DOCK Treaty, small island developing and low lying states are now vested with a SIDS-appropriate framework to assist member states to mobilise financing in excess of US$20 billion, by 2033, to invest in the transformation of the SIDS energy sector to achieve a 25 percent (2005 baseline) increase in energy efficiency, generation of a minimum of 50 percent of electric power from renewable sources, and a 25 percent decrease in conventional transportation fuel use, in order to increase availability of financial resources to invest in building climate change resilience in SIDS.
The SIDS DOCK treaty was opened for signature in September 2014, in Samoa, at the third UN international conference on SIDS; ratified in September 2015, at the UN, on the margins of the 70th UN General Assembly. The first meeting of the SIDS DOCK Assembly was held in Paris, in December 2015, on the margins of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties meeting (COP 21).
On 3 June 3016, the secretary general of the UN issued a certificate of registration, certifying that the SIDS DOCK treaty was duly registered, signalling that SIDS DOCK was officially open for business. SIDS DOCK business matters will be advised by the global law firm, Squire, Patton, Boggs (SPB), who were officially appointed SIDS DOCK attorneys by the Council. SPB will provide pro bono services to SIDS DOCK.
As mandated by the SIDS DOCK Assembly last December, the Council reviewed documentation adopted by the Assembly, including but not limited to the rules and procedures of the Assembly and Executive Council; selection procedure for the secretary-general; and the SIDS DOCK Secretariat work programme and indicative budget (2016-2020).
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC/5Cs) in its capacity as the interim SIDS DOCK secretariat was directed to work with Council members to finalise the documentation for presentation at the next Assembly meeting, scheduled for September 2016.
Other highlights of the meeting included a comprehensive presentation on a new and exciting investment programme initially targeting wind, solar heaters and photovoltaics (PV) installations in the SIDS DOCK indicative project pipeline. This one-of-a-kind investment vehicle is seen as a major “game changer” with regard to ready financing through a partnership blend of governments, donors and supportive families, to meet the SIDS DOCK goals of US$20 billion by 2033.
The Small Island Developing States: Clean Energy & Carbon Security Investment Platform was carefully designed for SIDS, by Goodwin Procter LLP, a leading Am Law 50 and Global 50 law firm, with offices across the United States and in Europe and Asia. The firm, founded in Boston in 1912, has been providing pro bono assistance to SIDS DOCK in establishing the investment platform.
Through a partnership with the GIve Investment Platform, a Clean Energy Development Fund will be established on SIDS DOCK behalf, with a classic 20 percent equity/80 percent debt project finance structure. Recognising that most SIDS have high debt, with at least ten being the most indebted in the world, SIDS total commitment is “$0 in project capital.” However, SIDS will “lease land at $0 through profitability, enter into public-private partnership agreements (PPA) through utility for scale projects, and put in place a normalized regulatory structure.”
The Council received updates on the Austrian-funded and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)-supported Centres for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Progress reports were given by Dr Al Binger, interim executive director for the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE), and Solomone Fifita, deputy energy director, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and coordinator for the start-up of the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE).
The CCREEE will have it first board meeting in Barbados, the host country, in July 2016, to finalise start up activities and for the Centre to be operational by August 2016. Through a memorandum of understanding, the PCREEE will be hosted in Tonga, and it is expected that the SPC, Tonga and UNIDO will sign a new agreement before the end of June 2016.
An update on the SIDS DOCK Island Women Open Network (IWON) noted that UNIDO will be providing 100,000 euros in start-up funding to support organisational and project development. Two meetings were held in the Caribbean region, in January 2016 in Grenada, and April 2016 in Dominica. The two meetings allowed the IWON to compile a list of over 50 women in climate change and energy at all levels of the professional, and private and public sectors spectrum.
The Executive Council noted for the record, the initial contribution from the government of Denmark in 2011 that helped attract support for SIDS DOCK, including from Japan, and early supporter, Italy. The CCCCC/5Cs and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the two regional organisations credited with creating SIDS DOCK, were also recognised by the Council.
Eight SIDS are represented on the Council: Dominica (chair), Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Samoa (vice chair), and Seychelles (vice chair). The next meeting of the Council is scheduled for August 2016, in New York.
Credit: Caribbean News Now
According to a recent publication, by 2100 Belize’s population is projected to reach 1 million, but at the same time, substantial portions of the country could be under water due to sea level rise, exacerbating demand for natural resources. Global warming is said to be the culprit, and the novel energy financing is intended to help scale back some of its effects.
In March, research published by the Nature journal and featured in the Washington Post indicates that sea levels are rising twice as fast as had been previously estimated, and the projection says that it will rise more than 6 feet by the end of the century.
An online model shows that over time Belize gradually disappears under rising water levels over the centuries, with the last refuge being the Maya Mountain Massif in Central Belize—where the highest lands are located. Belize appears to be one of the most vulnerable Central American countries to sea level rise.
Amandala spoke with Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), a CARICOM agency based in Belize, who explained that most of Central America is much more mountainous than Belize, which has a very flat coastline with much of its land mass in the north and coast being at or slightly below sea level.
As a consequence, sea level rise would impact Belize much more than places like Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
“The entire northern half of Belize and the entire coastal area all the way down to PG would also be under water,” Leslie said, pointing to the not too distant future.
Dr. Leslie told us that currently, the sea is rising about 3 millimeters (mm) per year.
“That might sound very small, but 3 millimeters in a year, in 10 years that’s 30 millimeters,” said Leslie.
He explained that every millimeter rise, translates to a meter of land being submerged. This, he noted, could have implications for places such as airports, as well as infrastructure on the cayes.
“So by the end of this century, you would have quite a bit of rise and coastal areas would be well under water,” said Leslie.
This could have serious implications for the country’s water supply, he said. Inland waters would become more saline. He noted that currently, the national water network feeds from Mile 16 in the Belize River area, but the network would have to find a source point far more inland.
Leslie said that the rate he quoted does not take into account the doubling recently reported in the Washington Post and Nature articles.
By the end of the century, most of Belize City would be under water; and that does not take into account the tides or a storm surge, he added.
“There are other factors that would make the matter much more complicated. All our offshore cayes, all those cayes at best are 3 feet above sea level; if you go up a foot of water, all the infrastructure would be severely impacted, including all the hotels,” he said.
“In terms of municipal airports; that would be under water…” Leslie told us. “Placencia would be under water,” he added.
The problem is that as a country, Belize has no control over sea level and the phenomenon that is driving it. According to the researchers who recently doubled the estimates for sea level rise, the ice caps in Antarctica are melting faster than had been thought due to high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
“The world took too long to start to address the climate change seriously,” Dr. Leslie said. “The water does not rise uniformly; it rises in some places faster than others.”
“We are in 2016, but in 2025, the water would have come up at least 3 more inches; and by 2050, which is not too far away and assuming the same 3mm rise per year (we are talking another 34 years), that would be affecting almost the whole of Belize City already – even at the current rate – and most of our cayes,” Leslie told us.
Other Caribbean countries, even those that are more mountainous than Belize, are also vulnerable, because of their size and the location of key national assets, such as their airports. In Jamaica, two of their international airports are along the coast. The cost to the economy of countries in our region could be huge, but awareness of the future impacts of climate change and sea level rise on our region could help countries prepare for the changes that lie ahead, such as retrofitting infrastructure.
Leslie indicated that the Green Climate Fund is just coming online and countries have to make sure that they submit proposals for financing efforts to build resilience to climate change.
“The onus is on the countries like Belize to start to understand how to write projects that can be funded under the Green Climate Fund,” Leslie said.
He told us that the Climate Change Centre is the only centre in our region, and one of the few in the world, accredited by the Green Climate Fund as an implementing entity. The Center can access (on behalf of CARICOM countries) monies for projects that can address climate change, in the range of US$10 million to US$50 million.
“The countries have to be proactive. We can submit on their behalf but they have to take the initiative,” he said.
Currently the Centre is working along with Belize on renewable energy projects that would cut cost, Leslie informed.
All CARICOM countries, including Belize, recently signed the Paris Agreement at the special ceremony held in the US in April. The agreement is aimed at checking global warming and consequently containing sea level rise; but there are doubts as to whether the target set in the agreement can be met.
When CARICOM leaders met in Belize this February, James Fletcher, chairman of both the CARICOM Task Force of Sustainable Development and the Regional Coordinating Committee on Climate Change, told our newspaper that, “There is a point to which the money can’t help, so if you’re going to have a climate that by the end of the century would have warmed up by 4 degrees Celsius, I don’t know that there is any amount of money that you can give to a country like the Maldives… or maybe some other island in the Bahamas, because these islands will disappear.”
Fletcher said that while countries have committed to “intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs),” the aggregate effect, even with those in place, suggests a 2.7 degree rise in temperature by end of the century.
“That’s not good enough [because] for SIDs [small island developing states], anything above 1.5 will be catastrophic…” he said. “Anything above that… becomes a vicious cycle that we can’t win.”
Dr. Leslie notes that the Paris Agreement only kicks in after a minimum number of countries ratify it—and those countries must include key ones such as the USA and China.
Back in Belize, where the country’s vulnerability to climate change and sea level rise is little understood, there is also the need to address the problem of deforestation, which could exacerbate the situation on the ground.
According to Jaume Ruscalleda, Sustainable Land Use Officer at Ya’axché Conservation Trust, since Independence, Belize’s forest cover has declined from 74% to 60%, and by the end of the century, the country will only have 26% forest cover, mostly in the Maya Mountain range—which, we note, is incidentally the last refuge from sea level rise.
Ruscalleda cited maps shared by Emil Cherrington, a Belizean who does remote monitoring of Belize’s forest cover and by the University of Belize, which also documents the disappearance of the country’s forest cover.
Dr. Leslie urges “proper land use planning,” adding that this should have been done with or without climate change.
“It comes back to the border problem. There are a lot of the prime areas which have been designated by our country which are not to be used for clearing and agriculture, but [Guatemalans] are coming across the border and doing just that. This should be addressed,” Leslie urged.
With more than 170 participating countries and over 1500 project submissions annually, the Energy Globe Award is a prestigious environmental prize worldwide. It distinguishes projects regionally, nationally and globally that conserve resources such as energy or utilize renewable or emission-free sources. The 2016 National Winner of the Energy Globe Award in Belize installed a mobile biogas laboratory at the University of Belize’s Belmopan Campus in order to build capacity in the biogas sector. The submission for the Project “Biogas Laboratory at UB” was made by Henrik Personn, the Renewable Energy Expert at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC). The CCCCC is awarded the Energy Globe for Belize (for the project).
In its efforts, the CCCCC has been granted the support within the GIZ – REETA program to introduce a mobile biogas Laboratory at the University of Belize (UB) for use within CARICOM Members states and also by the private sector. The vision of the project meant that the CCCCC would purchase a facility to convert biomass into biogas by using locally supplied feedstock, consisting mostly of easy to harvest biomass, manure and organic waste. The laboratory was installed on November 27, 2015 and the CCCCC and GIZ REETA recognized UB for being a strong partner with the best capacity in Belize to utilize the Laboratory.
Since its installation, UB’s Faculty of Science and Technology has made strides in incorporating the Biogas Laboratory into educational activities through research and teaching. Currently, a collaborative effort to assess the biogas potential of several waste biomass including banana and citrus is being executed. A student in the University’s Bachelors of Biology Program recently conducted thesis work in the lab and presented his findings at the UB Biology and Chemistry Symposium held in May 2016. The University is also actively engaging stakeholders to determine how the biogas lab can contribute to solving some environmental concerns. As an example, the lab has received interest from Belize Aquaculture Limited to evaluate shrimp waste in its potential to produce biogas as an option for adding value to organic shrimp waste. Ultimately, UB intends to expand the lab’s capacity to provide scientific data that can contribute to the climate change agenda. This ranges in areas from guiding management decisions to reducing pollution due to organic waste to generating a renewable source of energy that can contribute to meeting cooking needs of rural communities. To achieve those goals, the University is seeking partnerships that can help support the initiatives of the Lab. Therefore, the Laboratory is exploring the possibility of expanding its research capacity through participation in the Red Mesoamericana de Investigacion y Desarrollo de Biocombustibles (RMIDB) and will be submitting a proposal for funding consideration from the network.
The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance (REETA) is a four year Project funded by the Government of Germany through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The REETA Project collaborates with the CARICOM Energy Programme in rendering support in the areas of Capacity-Building, Private Sector Cooperation and Regional Institutional Support.
For further information on the UB Biogas Laboratory research activities contact Karen Link or Mark O’Brien (501-822 -1000) at UB. For further information on the CCCCC’s involvement in the project contact Henrik Personn at (501-822-1104) or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every year on June 5th, World Environment Day (WED) which is run by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is celebrated to to raise awareness about environmental issues and inspire people across earth to adapt healthy lifestyles and safe practices to keep our planet healthy. WED is revered in over 100 nations, and it is also celebrated in Belize, the host country for the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).
Protecting nature and earth, one of the focuses of WED is a priority that complements the work of the CCCCC. This weekend, Centre liaised with teachers and students and teachers from Belmopan Comprehensive High School, Belmopan Methodist High School and Belmopan Active Youths (BAY) for an excursion in honor of WED. On Saturday June 4th, 40 teachers and students went to the Toledo District to learn about agro-farming and the lifestyle of the people of Trio Village who truly live on the land.
The students learned of the collaboration between the CCCCC, the Trio Farmers Cacao Growers Association and Ya’axché Conservation Trust. The CCCCC utilized $250,000 US from UK-DFID to sponsor over 28,0000 cacao seedlings to the farming association. The three groups collaborated and received a unique concession from the Forestry Department to receive a substantial concession to develop 926 acres within the Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve.
On this visit the farmers showed them the additional 28,000 seedlings that were in the nursery which they would be planting as soon as they reach the right height. The students asked farmers like Isabel Rash how they watered the seedlings which was trek into the reserve. The questions also addressed drought and how the techniques utilized by agro-farming were different from the ones they used before.
As they trekked deeper into the reserve, they found the crops such as beans and plantains that were also being grown by the farmers as a faster cash crop while the first set of cacao plants still needed more time to mature before the fruit would be ready for harvesting.
One student commented that the soil seemed rich since there was no burning and also commented how it must had been harder for the crops to grow without using pesticides and chemicals to fertilize the soil.The Ya’axché officer on site, Julio Chub explained that the farmers used sawdust and decayed forest material to enrich the soil. He further stated that the conditions set by the Forest Department ensured that the soil and the forest would continue to be healthy.
Isabel Rash, one of the leaders of the group explained that it continues to be hard work, but the benefit is there for their families and they will have an income to sustain them all year round, rather than with seasonal work in the banana industry which was his primary means of earning an income.
There are at least 9 women in the Trio Farmers Cacao Growers Association and the students had an opportunity to meet 3 of them near the honey harvesting operation. Their trainer Isodoro Sho explained that not all the villagers had an opportunity to pursue education beyond primary school, and learning about bee keeping was one way they could earn money to put themselves back in the classroom or grow into a self-employed women. The students were particularly quiet when they met young women, their peers in age, being responsible citizens.
The head of the Belmopan Active Youths, Anna Guy felt the experience was a good one and to have met some of the Trio villagers. After seeing the bee keepers in action, the students laughed and ran as the first bees flew out of the hives.
But their running took them to the homes of the bee keepers who had fresh batches of honey on hand to sell. And while the transactions were ongoing, Mr. Sho informed the students that the association was developing a brand for the honey so that people would know whose honey they were buying and that the bees would also be used as part of the pollination process in the concession area.
The final stop in the village was to the house of Victor Tut. Tut had just completed a ceremony for his son who graduated from high school and hoped to enroll in the National Resource Management Program at the University of Belize. With the bus parked outside the home, the students and teachers were welcome inside to a bowl of freshly cooked food and a smooth cup of cacao juice. The day that started at 6:30 a.m. in Belmopan and stretched into the Humming Bird and Southern Highways had suddenly turned into a hungry and heavy 5 p.m. inside Tut’s home. At dusk, boarding the bus, the students gave a hearty goodbye as they returned with new friends from the group interactions, photos and lessons learned about Trio Village for World Environment Day.
The Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development (MFFSD) under the “Enhancing Belize’s Resilience to Adapt to the Effects of Climate Change” project which was funded by the European Union gave the initial support that started the Caribbean Community Climate Change Clubs.