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Belmopan, Belize; October 10, 2018 – The highly anticipated 1.5 degrees’ report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been released, and the news is dire. But while Scientists ‘sound the alarm about complacency’, they’ve given hope that it is still possible to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees.
The report clearly outlines the risks of exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; this is the upper limit of warming that small islands states have advocated for many years.
“This report is a wake-up call for governments and the world, that we no longer have time for playing-around. It is time for hard-work to avert climate change and the small islands states need significant financial help to make it happen” said Science Advisor and deputy executive director at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) Dr Ulric Trotz.
In the Special Report on Global Warming at 1.5 Degrees released on Monday, October 8, 2018, the IPCC warned that the global leaders need to quickly cut carbon emissions over the next decade. The landmark report by the world’s top scientists studying climate change noted, that to avoid going past 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels, the world needs to adopt “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.
“From the small island perspective, this is probably the most important report the IPCC has done, not only because it was in part called for by Small Island Developing States (SIDS) but also because every important message we have been requesting over the years is now backed up by scientific assessment in this report,” said Dr Michael Taylor one of the Caribbean’s leading climate scientists and a contributor to the report.
Dr Taylor noted that the Caribbean science underpins the assessments and supports the urgency of the messages that highlight not only the expected impacts on the region at 1.5 degrees”, but also “the enormous risks of 2 degrees, to the synergies with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), to adaptation needs, deficits and costs, to the necessity for more mitigation”.
The report outlines the considerable risks now being faced by SIDS to the escalating impacts of extreme events, from sea level rise to slowed economic growth, biodiversity loss and significant global risks, should global warming exceed 1.5°C.
For SIDS, the difference between warming at 1.5°C and 2°C is critical, resulting in increased water stress, more intense rainfall during tropical cyclones, and increased exposure to irreversible sea level rise. Some coral reefs would be able to adapt at 1.5°C, at 2°C their chances of survival are next-to-none, irrecoverably damaging the fisheries and livelihoods that depend on them.
Here in the Caribbean, the changes are already happening. The region is experiencing hotter days and nights, more intense rainfall as well as more and longer periods of drought, putting lives, livelihoods and economies at risk.
Significant data from the Caribbean and SIDS have featured prominently in this IPCC reports which provides a clear picture of the level of devastation that would occur at 2 degrees. The inclusion of regional data sets has been hailed a success by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) the agency designated by CARICOM to lead the Caribbean’s response to Climate Change.
“We set out to have the Caribbean situation reflected in the report and we have accomplished that,” Trotz said.
The Centre has been working with regional and international organisations to pull together institutions such as Cuba’s Institute of Meteorology, the Caribbean’s own CIMH, the Universities of the West Indies and Suriname and others to coordinate the production of Caribbean-specific models and information which provided critical information to the special report.
The 1.5 report was released during the 48th Session of the IPCC in Incheon, Republic of Korea.
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Link to the Special Report on Global Warming at 1.5 Degrees: http://ipcc.ch/report/sr15/.
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.
The negotiations at COP21 in Paris are halfway over, and the world will have a new universal climate agreement by the end of the week. But just how vigorous those commitments will be remains to be seen.
After whittling down a four-years-in-the-making draft agreement to 48 pages last week, negotiators will spend the remaining days of the conference compromising on a final agreement to be signed by more than 190 parties.
“A week ago, 150 world leaders stood here and pledged their full support for a robust global climate agreement that is equal to the test we face,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday. “Never before have so many Heads of State and Government gathered in one place at one time with one common purpose.”
Negotiations are expected to conclude Wednesday and the agreement be adopted on Thursday and Friday, though the formal signing ceremony won’t happen until early 2016. The current draft contains more than 900 square brackets, which are used to identify disagreements, the BBC noted.
“We have a new universally accepted basis for negotiations. Now we need to write the next,” French negotiator Laurence Taubiana said Sunday. “The work is not complete, and major political issues need to be decided on. We will need all our energy, intelligence, capacity for compromise, and ability to think long-term if we are to achieve our result.”
One of the biggest points of contention in the draft is whether negotiators should update the oft-cited 2 degrees Celsius threshold — the maximum amount of warming by 2100 that the planet can take before climate conditions are permanently altered — to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Last week, both France and Germany joined 43 other nations in stating that 2 degrees doesn’t go far enough and that the tougher goal of 1.5 degrees is necessary to protect the most vulnerable countries.
Achieving that goal, Reuters reported, will require bringing carbon emissions down to zero and relying 100 percent on renewable energy by 2050.
Negotiations over that will be challenging due to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which has emerged as one of the staunchest opponents to the more difficult goal.
“Saudi Arabia has been playing a very negative role in Paris, objecting to any processes to consider a 1.5C goal, or encouragement of divestment from fossil fuels,” E3G, a sustainable development nonprofit, said in its preview for the week ahead at COP21. The group added that Saudi is using its influence with the Arab bloc to bring it “along with it in an increasing bitter confrontation with the Vulnerable Countries.”
Negotiators will also spend the week hashing out which countries should foot the bill for developing nations’ climate projects. When the UN climate convention was signed in 1992, the BBC explained, negotiators identified participating nations as either developing or developed and agreed that the latter should should provide funding support to the former to help them meet their climate goals and cope with the effects of climate change.
Now that some of those developing countries, such as China, India and Saudi Arabia, have emerged as stronger nations over the last two decades, the richer developed countries want them to step up their financial contributions. But in a stern letter released last Wednesday, the G77, which represents the world’s developing nations, condemned such an action.
“Any attempt to replace the core obligation of developed countries to provide financial support to developing countries with a number of arbitrarily identified economic conditions is a violation of the rules-based multilateral process and threatens an outcome here in Paris,” the letter read.
Sorting out those financial disagreements should be the priority, Oxfam International director of advocacy and campaigns Celine Charveriat said at a press conference Monday, France 24 reported.
“We have 24 hours left to get a convincing finance package on the table,” Charveriat said. “We know what happens when something this central to the negotiations is left for the last day.”
Credit: Huffington Post
The Caribbean region is enduring the brunt of the ravaging effects of climate change. Sea level rise, frequent and intense natural hazards; extended dry seasons, loss of livelihood and the very disappearance of some of our islands are among the clear and present dangers that we face. The economic costs of climate change are beyond the capacity of these countries to bear without the provision of considerably more concessionary resources to address the impacts. This is why it is so important that our global partners support the call to limit warming to below 1.5C. This is achievable. This is urgent. Our very survival depends on it.
This video was produced by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The CDB is a regional financial institution which was established by an Agreement signed on October 18, 1969, in Kingston, Jamaica, and entered into force on January 26, 1970. The Bank came into existence for the purpose of contributing to the harmonious economic growth and development of the member countries in the Caribbean and promoting economic cooperation and integration among them, having special and urgent regard to the needs of the less developed members of the region.
Caribbean Launches the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report on Climate Change.What does it mean for the Caribbean?
By Dr Kenrick Leslie, CBE
The Caribbean’s response to Climate Change is grounded in a firm regional commitment, policy and strategy. Our three foundation documents – The Liliendaal Declaration (July 2009), The Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change (July 2009) and its Implementation Plan (March 2012) – are the basis for climate action in the region.
The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underscores the importance, scientific rigour and utility of these landmark documents. The IPCC’s latest assessment confirms the Caribbean Community’s long-standing call to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C as outlined in the Liliendaal Declaration. At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) Meeting in 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Caribbean Community indicated to the world community that a global temperature rise above 1.5°C would seriously affect the survival of the region.
In 2010 at the UNFCCC COP Meeting in Cancun, governments agreed that emissions ought to be kept at a level that would ensure global temperature increases can be limited to below 2°C. At that time, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which includes the Caribbean, re-iterated that any rise in temperature above 1.5°C would seriously affect their survival and compromise their development agenda. The United Nations Human Development Report (2008) and the State of the World Report (2009) of The Worldwatch Institute supports this position and have identified 2°C as the threshold above which irreversible and dangerous Climate Change will become unavoidable.
Accordingly, the Caribbean welcomes the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report prepared by over 2, 000 eminent scientists. It verifies observations in the Caribbean that temperatures are rising, extreme weather events are occurring more frequently, sea levels are rising, and there are more incidences of coral bleaching. These climatic changes will further exacerbate the limited availability of fresh water, agricultural productivity, result in more erosion and inundation, and increase the migration of fish from the Caribbean to cooler waters and more hospitable habitats. The cumulative effect is reduced food security, malnutrition, and productivity, thus increasing the challenges to achieving poverty reduction and socio-economic development.
The report notes that greenhouse gas emissions, the cause of Climate Change, continues to rise at an ever increasing rate. Unless this trend is arrested and rectified by 2050, global temperatures could rise by at least 4°C by 2100. This would be catastrophic for the Caribbean. However, the report is not all gloom and doom. More than half of the new energy plants for electricity are from renewable resources, a trend that must accelerate substantially if the goal of limiting global warming to below 2°C by 2100 is to remain feasible.
The IPCC AR5 Report should therefore serve as a further wakeup call to our region that we cannot continue on a business as usual trajectory. It is an imperative that Climate Change be integrated in every aspect of the region’s development agenda, as well as its short, medium and long-term planning. The region must also continue to aggressively engage its partners at the bilateral and multilateral levels to reduce their emissions. The best form of adaptation is reducing emissions.
Inaction is simply too costly! The IPCC will adopt the Synthesis Report of the AR5 in Copenhagen, Denmark in late October 2014. Caribbean negotiators are already preparing to ensure that the most important information from the report is captured in the Synthesis Report.
Dr Kenrick Leslie is the Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, the regional focal point for Climate Change.
Learn more about the implications of the IPCC AR5 Report by watching the live stream of the Caribbean Launch on today at 6pm (-4GMT) via caribbeanclimate.bz and track live tweets via #CaribbeanClimate.
This is a Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) supported event.