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Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the 5Cs, represented AOSIS as lead negotiator in reaffirming commitment to bold and urgent global climate action based on the best available science in the BBC’s ‘Triple Whammy’ threatens UN Action on Climate Change
A “triple whammy” of events threatens to hamper efforts to tackle climate change say UN delegates.
At a meeting in Bonn, Saudi Arabia has continued to object to a key IPCC scientific report that urges drastic cuts in carbon emissions.
Added to that, the EU has so far failed to agree to a long term net zero emissions target.
Thirdly, a draft text from the G20 summit in Japan later this week waters down commitments to tackle warming.
One attendee in Bonn said that, taken together, the moves represented a fierce backlash from countries with strong fossil fuel interests.
There was controversy last December at the Katowice COP24 meeting in Poland, when Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia objected to moves to welcome the findings of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C.
That study, regarded as a landmark, had two clear messages.
It showed that there were huge benefits in keeping temperature rises this century to 1.5C compared to a world that warmed 2C or more.
It also said that keeping the world below 1.5C was still possible, if drastic cuts in emissions were initiated by 2030.
To the frustration of a huge majority of countries, the objections of the four major fossil fuel producers, meant that the scientific report was not formally recognised in the negotiations.
The battle over the 1.5C report has carried over from Katowice to Bonn. Normally, this mid-year meeting is concerned with technical questions but this time the issue of the IPCC has re-emerged as a huge fault line between nations.
The Saudis are keen to highlight what are termed “knowledge gaps” in the IPCC report, that they believe hamper its ability to inform decision making at national or international level.
“We know that there are some hardliners that would try to downplay the seriousness and the actions that are required, that is their point of view,” said Carlos Fuller from Belize, the lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States.
“They recognise that they need to undertake major changes that they are not happy about.”
Many environmental campaigners see the Saudi pressure on the IPCC as part of campaign to discredit the science.
“The report shows the importance of striving towards 1.5C, that it is still achievable, and there is an incredible urgency to act vigorously and quickly,” said Dr Jeni Miller from the Global Climate and Health Alliance.
“This report was requested by the UN, by these countries themselves, so to not accept the findings of the report is a rejection of science, and if you are rejecting the science there is not a way forward to address this problem.”
While delegates seek to find a way forward on the science, there is growing concern about the European Union’s inability to reach consensus on cutting carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.
Despite the late support of Germany in favour of the idea, four countries including Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Estonia, refused to support the plan last week.
This has caused some dismay among officials at the UN.
The Secretary General, António Guterres, has called a special summit on climate change to be held in New York in September with the express purpose of getting countries to increase their existing targets.
The EU’s proposed net zero goal was key to making this a success.
Mr Guterres has expressed his “personal concern” about the setback. Campaigners are also worried.
“The EU are very aware of the Secretary General’s summit, they are aware they are calling for a revision of targets, it would be embarrassing for the EU to go with what they just have now,” said Ulriikka Aarnio, from the Climate Action Network.
“Somebody said they would be going from leader to loser if that was the case.”
Contributing to the downbeat mood in Bonn is the forthcoming G20 meeting of global leaders in Osaka, Japan.
A draft of the closing communiqué mentions climate change as just one issue among many and omits to use the phrases “global warming” and “decarbonisation”.
Critics believe that Japan is trying hard to win favour with the US on trade issues by downplaying the scale of the climate question and possible solutions to it.
“The story, based on a draft of the communiqué, shows Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a weak host and his G20 climate promises are full of hot air, undermining his previous claims that he seeks to save the planet.” said Kimiko Hirata, director of the Kiko Network Japan, a non-governmental organisation.
“Japan, alongside China, is the biggest financier of coal overseas in the world and the government continues to build new coal plants domestically despite our huge solar and wind power potential.”
As well as Japan, other leading economies are continuing to support coal based power generation. A study released by the Overseas Development Institutesays that G20 nations have almost tripled the subsidies given to coal fired plants in recent years, despite the growing need to cut emissions.
CREDIT: BBC News
Dr Leonard Nurse, Chairman of the Board and Mr Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) attended the 99th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in their personal capacities. Other participants from the Caribbean at the meeting held in Phoenix, Arizona, USA from 6 to 10 January 2019 included Dr David Farrell, Principal of the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), Mr Glendell de Souza, Deputy Coordinating Director of the Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO) and representatives of the national Meteorological Services of the Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana and Suriname.
There were several presentations by scientists from the CIMH. Shawn Boyce presented on “Impact-Based Forecasting and Assessment in the Caribbean”. Lawrence Pologne delivered a presentation on “The Potential, Viability and Co-benefits of Developing Wind Energy to Mitigate Climate Change in the Caribbean” based on his University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill doctoral thesis. Branden Spooner, an Intern at CIMH, presented on “Using Virtual Reality Technology as a Tool in Disaster Risk Reduction”.
There were several presentations of interest to the region. Kristie Ebi delivered on “Building Resilience of Health Systems in Pacific Island Least Developed Countries”. She also worked with Cory Morin of the University of Washington who delivered a presentation on, “Use of Seasonal Climate Forecasts to Develop an Early-Warning System for Dengue Fever Risk in Central America and the Caribbean”. They expressed an interest with collaborating with the CCCCC in developing this warning system.
The CIMH, and the national Meteorological Services of Belize and Jamaica were used in Catherine Vaughan’s, “Evaluation of Regional Climate Services: Learning from Seasonal Scale Examples across the Americas”. She is working out of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Colombia University.
Belize may find the presentation by Jorge Tamayo of the State Meteorological Agency, Spain, on “New Projects on Iberoamerican Meteorological Cooperation” of special interest. One project is on the development of a lightening detection network for Central America. They are also collaborating with the Regional Committee of Hydrological Services (CRRH) and the Central American Integration System (SICA) on a meeting in 2019 on the delivery of climate services.
In an interesting session on Communicating Climate Change, Mike Nelson of KMGH-TV in Denver Colorado, presented on “Communicating Climate Change – Be the Expert in the Living Room”, and Hank Jenkins-Smith of the University of Oklahoma delivered a presentation on “Stability and Instability in Individual Beliefs about Climate Change”. Jenkins-Smith noted that based on polling trends, conservatives were more likely to change their beliefs on climate change while liberals were more likely to retain their opinions on climate change.
In a session on Climate Extremes in the Tropical Americas: Past, Present and Future, Derek Thompson of Louisiana State University (LSU) presented on “Spatiotemporal Patterns and Recurrence Intervals of Tropical Cyclone Strikes for the Caribbean Islands from 1901 to 2017”, and Prashant Sardeshmukh, CIRES presented on “Can We Trust Model Projections of Changes in Climate Extremes over the Tropical Americas?”. He noted that dynamics played a more important role than atmospheric temperature in explaining extreme weather events. Current climate models were not capturing this aspect accurately and more work was required in this area. Kristine DeLong of LSU presented her work on “Last Interglacial Sea Surface Temperature Variability in the Tropical Atlantic Warm Pool: A Comparison of Model and Coral-Based Reconstructions”, which focused mainly on paleoclimatic reconstructions based on coral samples in the Caribbean. She noted the importance of collaboration with Caribbean institutions.
The 100th AMS Meeting will be held in Boson, Massachusetts from 12 to 16 January 2020. Caribbean meteorologists, hydrologists and climate change experts are encouraged to attend these meetings to be appraised of the most recent research on these subjects.∞
CARICOM Champions Science at COP 24 – Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and Climate Change Negotiator
The Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) were among a large group of countries at COP 24 insisting that the global response to climate change be driven by science.
During 2018 the CARICOM Member States tried to include the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C as an agenda item at COP 24. However, they were unable to do so. At COP 24 they used two approaches to highlight the importance of the Special Report to the process. In the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) under the agenda item on Research and Systematic Observations (RSO), they proposed a paragraph welcoming the Special Report. Led by Ms Cheryl Jeffers of St Kitts and Nevis, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the group also tried to insert paragraphs highlighting key messages from the 2018 State of the Climate presented by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the work of a Task Force of Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). Although these were supported by most of the countries present, including the African Group, the Least Developed Countries Group (LDCs), the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC) and the European Union (EU), it was opposed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia and the United States. As a result, when the SBSTA session ended, there were no agreed conclusions on this issue and discussions will resume at the next session in May 2019.
Undeterred, CARICOM continued to press the case the following week and were able to get reference to the IPCC Special Report in the main COP decision. It invited countries to consider the information contained in the report when they addressed relevant issues. In addition, SBSTA will discuss the contents of the report in May. IPCC assessments and reports will also be used to inform the global stocktake to be undertaken in 2023 to assess the implementation of the Paris Agreement and inform subsequent countries nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
In the decision adopting the Paris Agreement in 2015, the IPCC was requested to prepare this special report. Leonard Nurse, UWI (Barbados); Felicia Whyte, Kimberly Stephenson, Tannecia Stephenson and Michael Taylor, UWI (Jamaica); and Adelle Thomas of the University of the Bahamas contributed to the preparation of the report. During 2018 as the report was circulated for comments, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre with support from Climate Analytics and Charles and Associates organized regional workshops with CARICOM national IPCC and UNFCCC Focal Points to review the report and provide comments on its contents.
The IPCC will produce two additional special reports in 2019, and CARICOM scientists will once again play an important role in their preparation. Adrian Spence, International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (Jamaica); Kenel Delusca, Institute of Science, Technology and Advanced Studies of Haiti; and Noureddin Benkeblia and Donovan Campbell, UWI (Jamaica) will be contributing authors to the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land. For the IPCC Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere on a Changing Climate, Michael Sutherland, UWI (Trinidad and Tobago) has been selected to assist in preparing the report.
More than a dozen protestors interrupted a U.S. pro-fossil fuel event on the sidelines of the U.N. climate change talks on Dec.10. in Poland. (Reuters)
By Griff Witte andBrady Dennis
December 10; KATOWICE, Poland — President Trump’s top White House adviser on energy and climate stood before the crowd of some 200 people on Monday and tried to burnish the image of coal, the fossil fuel that powered the industrial revolution — and is now a major culprit behind the climate crisis world leaders are meeting here to address.
“We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,” said Wells Griffith, Trump’s adviser.
Mocking laughter echoed through the conference room. A woman yelled, “These false solutions are a joke!” And dozens of people erupted into chants of protest.
The protest was a piece of theater, and so too was the United States’ public embrace of coal and other dirty fuels at an event otherwise dedicated to saving the world from the catastrophic effects of climate change. The standoff punctuated the awkward position the American delegation finds itself in as career bureaucrats seek to advance the Trump administration’s agenda in an international arena aimed at cutting back on fossil fuels.
“There are two layers of U.S. action in Poland,” said Paul Bledsoe, an energy fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and former Clinton White House climate adviser.
One is the public support of fossil fuels, which Bledsoe said is “primarily aimed at the president’s domestic political base, doubling down on his strategy of energizing them by thumbing his nose at international norms.”
The quieter half is the work of career State Department officials who continue to offer constructive contributions to the Paris climate agreement that President Trump loves to loathe.
Which facet of the American presence proves more influential in Poland could have a big impact on whether this year’s climate summit, now in its second week, ends in success or failure.
Because greenhouse gases do not pay attention to national borders, a global front on climate action is crucial. The summit provides the only venue for countries to coordinate their push to curb ongoing global warming.
“This week is going to be telling,” said Helen Mountford, vice president of climate and economics at the World Resources Institute.
Monday’s presentation came after a weekend in which the U.S. delegation undercut the talks by joining with major oil producers Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in blocking full endorsement of a critical U.N. climate report. The report, by some of the world’s leading scientists, found that the world has barely a decade to cut carbon emissions by nearly half to avoid catastrophic warming.
But the United States balked at a proposal to formally “welcome” the finding, setting off a dispute that, while semantic in nature, carried ominous portents that the United States could become an obstacle to progress in Katowice.
“The worrying issue is the signal that it sends,” Mountford said.
A State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the ongoing sensitivity of the talks, said negotiators “faithfully serve the administration and do their best to defend U.S. economic and other interests.”
The planned U.S. exit from the Paris accord in 2020 has left a lingering question here about which countries will commit to ramping up their ambition in the years ahead and who can serve as a unifying force if the world is serious about making the changes necessary to address climate change.
The United States’ mercurial role in Poland is far different from 2014, when President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping — whose countries account for about 45 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions — struck a deal to limit those emissions in a high-profile announcement in Beijing.
Or 2015, when Obama and other top U.S. officials worked phones and backrooms, encouraging other world leaders in Paris to sign on to a deal aimed at creating a global effort to combat climate change.
Three years later, the idea of the United States as a leader at the international climate talks has evaporated. At a recent Group of 20 summit in Argentina, 19 of the 20 world leaders in attendance reiterated their commitment to climate action — only the United States stood apart. Trump has repeatedly dismissed a federal report about how climate change is already battering the states.
Behind the scenes, U.S. negotiators have soldiered on, pushing for long-held views that span several administrations, such as urging transparency in how countries report their emissions and standardizing the rules that govern the climate accord.
Those are policies “we’ve been pushing for decades. It’s not a new thing,” said Jonathan Pershing, who served during the Obama administration as the State Department’s special envoy for climate change and lead U.S. negotiator to the U.N. climate talks.
Pershing praised the career officials the administration has in Poland, calling them savvy and experienced. Likewise, other delegations have also said that U.S. officials have continued to play a key role, even if it has diminished from past years.
“The U.S. delegation is comprised of seasoned climate change negotiators. On most issues, they have maintained the positions of the previous administration. In some instances, they have remained constructively quiet. They reach out to other delegations informally to build bridges and propose solutions,” said Carlos Fuller, a negotiator for a coalition of small island and low-lying coastal countries that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
“This is regrettable, as some of the best climate change scientists in the world are American. A lot of the data feeding the science comes from U.S. institutions and platforms. However, the White House policy statements have forced their negotiators to take this stance,” Fuller said.
The conference in Katowice brings together delegates from nearly 200 countries to try to kick-start a process that has shown worrying signs of stalling out. The goals are to raise global ambitions in the quest to cut carbon emissions, to establish a rule book for measuring progress and to put serious financial backing behind the developed world’s support for emissions reduction among developing nations.
Much of the negotiating work is highly technical, with the big-picture framework of the Paris talks replaced by the nitty-gritty of establishing standards and protocols. It is work tailor-made for diplomats and bureaucrats, and ill suited to politicians.
Monday’s protest was part of a demonstration by activists determined to disrupt the U.S. government’s only planned public contribution to the debate at this year’s global climate conference, the most important review of progress — or lack thereof — since the meeting in Paris.
After dozens of activists had shouted, “Keep it in the ground!” and “Shame on you!” for roughly 10 minutes, they marched together from the room. In the calm that followed, administration officials continued with their pitch for carbon-capture technologies to clean up coal, hydraulic fracturing to unearth gas and a new generation of nuclear energy plants.
Scientists say that a rapid migration away from fossil fuels toward cleaner energy is essential in the quest to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change. But Griffith, the White House adviser, said that an exclusive focus on wind and solar is misguided at a time when the global energy supply is still dominated by carbon. He and his colleagues touted the economic benefits of shale gas and insisted that coal can be made much less polluting given the right technology.
“Alarmism,” Griffith said, “should not silence realism.”
But with many of the alarming pronouncements coming from scientists, Griffith was pressed on whether the U.S. approach really reflected the gravity of the moment.
One audience member asked whether the U.S. government accepted the urgency embedded in the United Nations’ recent report: “Do you believe that we have 12 years to save the planet and civilization as we know it?”
Griffith declined to say.
Credit: Washington Post
Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer represented the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre at a working lunch of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Island (ACP) States and the European Union (EU) today in Katowice, Poland, the venue of COP 24. In his opening statement Commissioner Antonio Arias Canete noted that the European Community was the largest donor to climate finance and would continue to do so referencing their latest pledges to the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund. They were committed to meeting their obligations under the Paris Agreement and would begin working on their long-term strategy towards carbon neutrality by 2050.
CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General Dr Douglas Slater expressed the Caribbean’s appreciation to the support provided by the EU to the region in the areas of development, disaster relief and climate change. He thanked the EU for its solidarity with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in welcoming the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C and for a strong outcome of the Talanoa Dialogue including a COP decision calling on Parties to submit more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020. These sentiments were also expressed by Minister Stiell of Grenada who also highlighted the need for the inclusion in the outcome of Loss and Damage and Finance in response to the IPCC Report. The Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations echoed these sentiments and called for increased support to the region for technology transfer and capacity building.
The representative of Poland informed the meeting that the COP Presidency had now taken over the drafting of the language for the outcomes of the COP. Ministerial consultations had ended. A new clean text would be issued later today and would be debated in a Vienna style setting.
In his closing remarks, Commissioner Canete emphasized that climate change would be the cornerstone of the new ACP/EU partnership programme. He noted that the combined membership of ACP and EU States was more than half of the UN seats. Working together the group could produce great results.
The region was represented by Belize, Jamaica, and the Commission of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
News from COP 24 – Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and Climate Change Negotiator
Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and Climate Change Negotiator on the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP 24):
Climate Change Talks Reach Crucial Stage
Negotiations on climate change at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland have now reached a crucial stage. Technical negotiations on elements of the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) ended at 5 pm yesterday. At a plenary meeting later that evening, the COP President announced that there were many outstanding issues remaining. He said that negotiations could now longer continue in the present mode. He has appointed pairs of ministers representing developed and developing countries to undertake consultations on 5 clusters: Transparency, Mitigation and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the Global Stocktake (GST), Adaptation, and Cooperative Approaches. Two ministers from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) were among those selected. Singapore will join Norway in facilitating discussions on Mitigation and NDCs, while the Marshall Islands and Luxemburg will undertake the GST. Germany and Egypt will continue their consultations on Finance while Poland as the COP President is undertaking consultations on the contents of elements to be included in COP decisions.
AOSIS representing the interests of SIDS is advocating strongly for inclusion of the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming at 1.5°C and the outcomes of the Talanoa Dialogue.
Belize at High-level Segment of the Talanoa Dialogue
Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre represented Belize at the high-level segment of the Talanoa Dialogue. In his opening statement he noted Belize’s vulnerability to climate change and the reason the country supported the call to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level. Quoting from the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) 2018 State of the Climate Report that 2018 was turning out to be the fourth warmest year on record, he maintained that concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had now reached 405 parts per million (ppm). The last time that concentrations were that high was 3 to 5 million years ago when sea levels were 15 feet higher than present levels. That means that Belize City and other coastal communities and all the cayes would have been under water.
He went on to note that the recently approved Report on Global Warming of 1.5 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) asserted that the global temperature was now one degree higher than the pre-industrial level and the countries like Belize were already experiencing the adverse impacts of climate change. At 1.5 degrees, conditions would get worse but were manageable, however, at 2 degrees, ecosystems like coral reefs would be unable to survive. The Caribbean would become so acidic from the carbon dioxide it was absorbing from the atmosphere that shell fish like conch, lobster and shrimp, would find it difficult to grow their shells.
He pointed out that the report said that it was still possible to achieve the 1.5-degree target. However, action was required immediately and that emissions of greenhouse gases would have to be reduced by 50% by 2030, and by 2050 the world would have to become carbon neutral. This would require a massive transformation of all sectors of the economy including energy, agriculture, industry and forestry. It would require a massive injection of capital, transformation of the work force and international cooperation. Such a paradigm shift would stimulate the global economy to unprecedented levels of growth that would include all levels of society, raise standards of living and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Mr Fuller was joined in the Dialogue by the Ministers of Latvia and South Africa and representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and the Youth Organization. The Talanoa Dialogue was mandated by the COP decision which adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015 to inform the revision of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020. The present NDCs will limit global warming to 3 degrees Celsius while the Paris Agreement’s objective is to limit it to far below 2 degrees and possibly 1.5 degrees.
Talanoa Dialogue Concludes
The COP 23 and COP 24 Presidencies chaired the meeting which closed the Talanoa Dialogue at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Manuel Guteres in his opening statement noted that the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C concluded that the 1.5-degree target was still achievable. He called upon Parties to communicate more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) leading up to and at the Summit he would convene in September 2019. Ministers from Poland and Fiji reported on the Ministerial Talanoa roundtables convened yesterday. Switzerland announced that it would reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 50% by 2030 in accordance with the findings of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 and that it was now developing its long-term emission reduction target for 2050. He highlighted the call in the joint submission by the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG), the Independent Association of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (AILAC) and CARICOM for Parties to enhance their NDCs by 2020.
Minister Steele of Grenada highlighted the need for Parties to undertake rapid action to increase their mitigation ambition in accordance with the finding of the IPCC Special Report. This would require enhanced financial, technical and capacity building support to enable this ambition both for the mitigation target but also for the adaptation actions that would be required in a 1.5-degree world. Towards this end he called for a strong COP decision that incorporated these elements including the call for more ambitious NDCs. He looked forward to the UN Secretary-General’s Summit as an important political moment to raise ambition.
The European Union (EU) also called for a COP decision as an outcome of the Talanoa Dialogue process and that the UN Secretary General’s Summit would be the next opportunity for Parties to announce their enhanced NDCs. The Maldives on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) called for the Talanoa process to continue. At the conclusion of the meeting the Polish Presidency noted the benefits of the 1.5-degree target. He invited Timothy and Hanna, two youth representatives from Fiji and Poland to join the head table where they delivered a joint declaration. In his closing statement the Prime Minister of Fiji issued the Talanoa Call for Action. He welcomed the IPCC Special Report and thanked the scientists who contributed to it. He said that Fiji would join the Marshall Islands in submitting a more ambitious NDC and called for others to come to the SG’s Summit with similar concrete plans. He asked for the Talanoa process to continue to the Summit and beyond.
View Carlos Fuller’s input on the Dialogue at time period 1:20:00 by clicking on the link: DREKETITalanoa Dialogue (MR – 12)
The twenty-fourth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate, known as COP24, will take place in Poland from December second to the fourteenth. The key objective of this year’s conference is to adopt the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement. It brings together world leaders and champions of the environment in a number of high-level events. Belize is part of the block of countries identified as Small Island Developing States. Last week, CARICOM member states of the grouping met in Barbados to prepare for the conference. The Caribbean Community Climate Change Center’s Carlos Fuller shares the region’s expectation of the event:
Carlos Fuller, International & Regional Liaison Officer, CCCCC
“For us, COP24 is an important one because it is the most significant COP after the Paris Agreement, which will actually provide the rules of the Paris Agreement. So, when you read through the Paris Agreement, for example, it says many things. It establishes a transparency framework – well what is it? We have to say what that is. It establishes a compliance committee, so what will the compliance committee do? These are the things that will set the stage for the implementation of Paris Agreement. These are the technical parts. However, there are two aspects of the Paris Agreement that will happen at the COP that are very important for the Small Island Developing States. The first of all is this IPCC Special Report on one point five degrees global warming. We know, for example, that report was actually commissioned by COP21 which adopted the Paris Agreement. It requested the IPCC to prepare this report at the request of Small Island Developing States, because we were concerned that within the Paris Agreement while it gives the goal of two point zero, it also says let us strive for one point five. So, this report feeds into aspects of it and there are parts of that report that are very alarming for small island developing states.”
“With the IPCC Report, does it change the way you are going to go into COP24?”
“Most definitely. It shows us the sense of urgency that it is much greater now. It also shows us that the kind of financing that we are asking for, it has changed the landscape totally. What was being provided will not be enough for countries to reduce their emissions to greenhouse gases, much less to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change which we in Belize are already experiencing.”
CREDIT: Channel 5 Belize
And so if you’re wondering what exactly the IPCC Report means for the small island developing states; the news is grim. For coral reefs and other vulnerable ecosystems it may mean a massive die out if we can’t keep global temperatures down to one point five degrees Celsius. Fuller said that the report has a big impact on the SIDS’ approach to COP24. But not all is doom and gloom, as there is roughly about twelve years for countries to cut emissions and bring down the global temperatures.
Carlos Fuller, International & Regional Liaison Officer, CCCCC
“First of all, it tells us that already the earth has warmed by one point one degrees Celsius, so we only have point four degrees Celsius more to go before we reach the one point five degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages. We are already feeling the effects of that one degree rise already. At one point five it is going to be worse, but at two degrees it is going to be alarming. Ecosystems that could potentially adapt at one point five will not be able to survive at two degrees Celsius. For us, at one point five, we will lose seventy-five to ninety percent of our coral reefs. At two degrees, it is totally dead. That, obviously, we cannot accept. The good part of the report says it is still achievable to reach the one point five degrees Celsius target. Current greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are not enough to lead us to one point five yet. So, if we do something now it can be achieved but we only have ten years to do it because after 2030 unless we address it, we have lost the one point five target. So, it can be done and we know that it will require a huge investment in transforming our economies from fossil fuel based to renewable energy where Belize is doing a great role. But it has to be all sectors, electricity, transport, agriculture, forestry – so all sectors must contribute to that. So, we want that to come out at the COP and we know that we might face some setbacks there.”
CREDIT: Channel 5 Belize
Excerpt taken from the Inter-American Development Bank’s publication:
Integration & Trade Journal: Volume 21: No. 41: March, 2017
One of the greatest injustices of pollution is that its consequences are not limited to those who produce it. The Caribbean is one of the least polluting regions in the world but it is also one of the most exposed to global warming due to the importance of the tourism sector within its economy.
Carlos Fuller, an expert from the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, explains the consequences of the region’s dependence on petroleum and analyzes the potential of public policy for supporting renewable energy.
How is climate change impacting the Caribbean?
The Caribbean’s greenhouse gas emissions are very small because we have a small population, we are not very industrialized, and we don’t do a lot of agriculture, so we don’t emit a lot. However, mitigation is important for us because of the high cost of fuel and energy. Most of our islands depend on petroleum as a source of energy, and when oil prices were above US$100 per barrel, we were spending more than 60% of our foreign exchange on importing petroleum products into the Caribbean. In that respect, we really want to transition to renewable energy sources as we have considerable amounts of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy potential.
Has climate change started to affect tourism?
It has. Climate change is severely impacting our natural attractions, our tourist attractions. For example, we have a significant amount of erosion because of sea level rise, wave action, and storm surges, which is causing tremendous erosion and affecting our beaches. Our coral reefs, which are a big attraction, are also suffering a lot of bleaching which is impacting our fish stock. Those resources are being affected significantly. We do have significant protected areas; however, we need more resources to enforce the protection of these.
What role do public policies play in developing renewable energy?
In some countries, [we’re] doing reasonably well on this front. In Belize, for example, we now have independent coal producers and we have transitioned to an increased use of hydro, solar, and biomass, so more than 50% of our domestic electricity supply is from renewable energy sources. However, on many of the islands, we need to create an enabling environment to allow renewable energy to penetrate the market. We are going to need a lot of assistance from the international community to put in the regulatory framework that will allow us to develop renewable energy in these places. We then need to attract potential investors to provide sources of renewable energy in the region. Of course, the Caribbean’s tourism is an important sector of the economy, which is one of the reasons we need to protect our reserves and natural parks. We are also trying to make our buildings more resilient to the effects of extreme weather. That is the focus of our work.
How does the Green Climate Fund work?
The Green Climate Fund is headquartered in South Korea and it has an independent board of management. However, various agencies can be accredited to access the fund directly. We have already applied for a project to preserve the barrier reef and another to promote biomass use in the Caribbean. So, we have two projects in the pipeline through the Green Climate Fund which are valued at around US$20 million.
Do you think that the Paris and Marrakesh summits brought concrete results for the region?
We were very pleased with the outcome in Paris. The objectives that the Caribbean Community wanted were achieved: the limit for warming was set at 2°C; adaptation was considered along with mitigation; finance, technology transfer, and capacity building were included; and a compliance system was put in place. All the things that we wanted out of Paris, we achieved, and so we are very happy with that.
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Belmopan, BELIZE: May 31, 2017 – Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and Dr. June Soomer, Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) discussed collaborations on a range of issues when they met at the Centre’s office here on Monday, May 29, 2017.
Dr. Soomer, and her team paid a courtesy call on Dr. Leslie and his team, and took the opportunity to discuss areas of future cooperation and dialogue. In reviewing the scope of work and responsibilities of both organisations, both Drs. Leslie and Soomer agreed that the region could benefit if both organisations coordinate for the advancement of areas such as eco-systems based management, the development of scientific tools and data to aid climate change adaptation measures and on programmes that would help regional leaders to make more informed decisions.
Dr Soomer pointed to the organisation’s recent signing of a US$4 million grant from South Korea to assess and control the impact of coastal erosion and sea level rise in some member states. The grant is being used to do work in countries like Jamaica where CCCCC is also doing coastal protection work with KfW, the German Development Bank.
Other areas identified for parallel coordination efforts include fisheries, communication, disaster risk response and climate financing. Pointing to the Centre’s recent accreditation by the Greed Climate Fund (GCF), Dr. Leslie said:
“The Centre along with the Caribbean Development Bank are now able to access financing to help the countries of the region prepare for the effects of climate change”.
The Centres’ work, Dr. Soomer told the meeting, aligns itself to the ACS’ goal to take the achievements of the region to the rest of the world. Caribbean also has a lot to teach the world, she said, noting that in the case of small organisations like the CCCCC and ACS, “pooling the resources, can do a lot for the region”.
Dr Soomer’s team also included Ms. Tricia Barrow, Political Advisor and Alexander Girvan, the Caribbean Sea Commission Coordinator. Dr.’s Leslie’s team included Mr. Keith Kichols, Dr. Donneil Cain, Mr Vincent Peter, project development specialists, and Mr. Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer.
The ACS is a grouping of countries of the sharing the Caribbean Sea. The organization provides a framework for cooperation and dialogue to further the economic integration, intra-regional trade and investments to improve competitiveness of its membership.