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Regional Meteorologists Meet in Belize

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre is organizing a Regional Workshop of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) at the Belize Biltmore Plaza in Belize City from 10 to 12 July 2019. Representatives of the national Meteorological Services of the Caribbean and Central America will discuss the status of the land and ocean-based weather observing systems in the region, identify gaps in the networks, address issues of sustainability and maintenance, and identify potential sources of funding to address any weaknesses.

The GCOS Secretariat is housed in the Headquarters of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Members of the Secretariat will also be in attendance at the workshop.

The GCOS Secretariat reports annually to the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the status of the global climate observing system. The outcome of this regional workshop will feature prominently in their report this year at COP25 in December in Santiago de Chile.

Caribbean countries to benefit from new global climate fund

Baron Patricia Scotland (Photo: CMC)

Six Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are seeking assistance for funding of climate related projects from the recently launched Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub.

The agreement for the new Commonwealth initiative was signed by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and Prime Minister of Mauritius Anerood Jugnauth.

The first countries to formally request assistance from the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Mauritius, Namibia, Nauru, Solomon Islands, St Kitts and Nevis, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

Jamaica’s Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation said it “looked forward” to receiving support through the hub.

“The placement of a climate finance adviser in our ministry is a priority and a critical step in building our capacity and supporting efforts to improve access and use of available climate finance,” the ministry said in a statement.

The hub, which is being hosted by the Mauritius government, is intended to assist governments deal with the ravaging effects of climate change by accessing funding from a global fund target of $100 billion a year by 2020.

Endorsed by Commonwealth Heads of Government, the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, will place national climate finance advisers for two years at a time in recipient countries, who will help host ministries to identify and apply for funding streams.

The innovative approach will build on-the-ground capacity to access multilateral funds such as the Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund and Climate Investment Funds, as well as private sector finance.

The Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub is supported with a $1 million grant (AUS) by the Australian government and a £1 million grant (GBP) from the Commonwealth Secretariat, plus in-kind support from the Government of Mauritius.

Credit: Jamaica Observer

Belize to Make its Energy Sector More Climate Resilient

 

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photo credit: Jose Sanchez

Belize will strengthen the climate resilience of its energy sector as a result of a US$8 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) approved today by the World Bank Board of Directors.

“A major concern we often grapple with is extreme weather,” said Frank Mena, Belize’s Minister of State for Finance, Public Service, Energy & Public Utilities. “The impact of such events often leads to major set-backs to our development progress,” he added.

Belize is often in the direct path of tropical storms and hurricanes, which are expected to intensify due to climate change. This has caused many human casualties and widespread damages, resulting in costly disruptions of vital public services. The impact of Hurricane Dean in 2007 resulted in US$80-100 million in damages, equivalent to 6-8 percent of GDP, and a near countrywide power blackout. Likewise, Hurricane Earl left another wave of disruptions last month.

“Building climate resilience is a key priority for Belize. This project aims to support the government’s continued efforts to make energy and power systems better prepared and more resilient to storms, hurricanes and natural hazards,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.

Among the concrete results to be achieved by the Energy Resilience for Climate Adaptation Project in Belize are:

  • Improved capacity for long-term energy planning, taking into account the impact of climate change;
  • Better monitoring of weather and localized impacts of climate change through the installation of meteorological and hydro-meteorological stations across the country;
  • Enhanced electricity supply security despite weather events, by strengthening the transmission network and reducing the likelihood of service disruptions;
  • Improved preparedness through the design and implementation of an Emergency Response and Recovery Plan for the power sector;
  • Revitalized communication network of the power company, ensuring better command and control coordination during response and recovery operations.

This four year project is financed by a US$8 million grant from the Global Environment Facility’s Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and US$3.9 million counterpart financing from the Government of Belize and the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) company.

Credit: World Bank

World Meteorological Organization first UN agency to formalize relationship with GCF

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations’ authority on the state of the planet’s atmosphere and climate, has become the first UN specialized agency to formalize its relationship with the Green Climate Fund (GCF). By signing its accreditation master agreement with GCF, the WMO can now receive financial resources for climate action programmes and projects.

This development represents an important milestone for both GCF and the UN system, signaling the role of the Fund in supporting other international organizations advance low-emission and carbon-resilient programmes and projects through GCF in developing countries.

The WMO joins the rank of other Accredited Entities that have concluded their accreditation master agreements with GCF: Agency for Agricultural Development (ADA) of Morocco; Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC); Centre de Suivi Écologique (CSE) of Senegal; and Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) of Namibia.

“The Green Climate Fund is pleased to have the World Meteorological Organization as the first UN organization to formalize its relationship with the Fund,” said Héla Cheikhrouhou, Executive Director of GCF. “As the lead coordinating body for global climate research, the WMO brings a high level of expertise and a unique perspective to strengthen the support GCF will provide to countries in implementing the Paris Agreement,” she said.

An accreditation master agreement is the central instrument in the relationship between GCF and an Accredited Entity. It sets out the basic terms and conditions as to how the accredited entity and GCF can work together for the use of GCF resources.

In addition to WMO, several other UN system organizations are in the process of finalizing their respective accreditation master agreement with the Fund.

The Geneva-based WMO is a specialized agency of the UN with 191 Member States, providing an intergovernmental framework for global cooperation on climate issues. It is also host to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the international body for the assessment of the science related to climate change that was set up in 1988 by WMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Credit: Green Climate Fund

Caribbean Climate Podcast: How can we reimagine climate finance? (audio)

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Caribbean Climate Podcast, a series of interviews with climate change experts and activists about key issues and solutions. In this special edition we talk with Dr Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, about his bold proposal to re-orient climate financing.

Enjoy The Full Podcast

Enjoy The Podcast in Segments

Question 1: You recently proposed comprehensive changes to the way we approach climate change mitigation and adaptation in terms of climate financing, policy and programmes. What motivated this proposal?
 
Question 2: You point to inherent and consequential differences in Mitigation and Adaptation outcomes as the key reason for reimagining climate change responses.  Why is this so important for the Caribbean, and the world in general?
 
Question 3: You point to energy as principal entry point for private sector investment, what primes this sector to spur the critical changes you call for?
 
Question 4: You call for private sector engagement both locally and globally given the considerable risks and high costs associated with Adaptation that is often prohibitive for the private sector in the developing world alone. Why would the private sector, say in the United Kingdom, be interested in providing funds for Adaptation in Belize? Is this the same scenario with mitigation?
 
Question 5: Given that distinct difference, how do we re-imagine the allocation of climate change resources such as the US100 billion per year Green Climate Fund?
 
Question 6: Your proposal could transform the climate change response landscape and potentially heighten private sector interest and investment in “Mitigation” without GCF’s resources crowding out private funding. But how do we deal with Adaptation funding more broadly?
 

Urgent Action Needed to Reduce Effects of Climate Change

Jamaica’s Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, has described climate change as a “real and present danger” that will persist, and “critical and urgent action” must be taken by nations globally to reduce its effects.

“We are now facing a future that almost certainly will be hotter, wetter and drier due to climate change. We will continue to experience increasing temperatures as well as more frequent and intense weather events, such as hurricanes, drought and floods,” he said.

The Minister was speaking at a forum at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston, on March 23 to mark World Meteorological Day, under the theme: ‘Hotter, Drier, Wetter – Face the Future’.

Mr. Vaz said the view expressed by some interests that climate change and environmental issues “only affect some of us, and is a problem for the distant future,” is a “misconception.”

“When temperatures soar to record levels, as they did during much of last year, it is not a few who feel the heat, but all of us. When drought ravages our crops and there are outbreaks of bush fires, we all pay higher prices at the market,” he noted.

Additionally, Mr. Vaz said when floods, resulting from hurricanes or intense rainfall, damage roads and other infrastructure, “the country stands the cost of rebuilding.”

“There is little wonder, therefore, that more Ministries within the Caribbean region are including climate change within their portfolio responsibilities,” he noted.

In this regard, Mr. Vaz commended the Meteorological Service of Jamaica (MSJ) for being at the forefront of climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

“Your members have been very vocal on the international scene in championing the cause of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), like Jamaica, which are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change…which highlights our true inter-dependence,” he said.

The forum was jointly staged by the Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change II (Ja REEACH II) Project and the MSJ.

It featured a panel discussion on the theme: ‘Hotter, Wetter, Drier – The Jamaican Context’, with climate change presentations by representatives of state agencies and academia, as well as an exhibition.

Ja REEACH is a four-year project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and jointly implemented with the Government of Jamaica.

It aims to safeguard agricultural and natural resource-based livelihoods, in order to improve institutional capacity to successfully adapt, mitigate and manage the effects of climate change.

World Meteorological Day is observed globally each year to promote sustainable development and to tackle climate change through the provision of the best available science and operational services for weather, climate, hydrology, oceans and the environment.

Credit: Jamaica Information Service

Regional climate change meeting held in Saint Lucia

Climate-change-how-does-it-work

PRESS RELEASE – The Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology in collaboration with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the High Level Support Mechanism (HLSM) hosted a regional meeting for climate change negotiators and ministers with responsibility for climate change from Wednesday 16th September, 2015 to Friday 18th September, 2015 in Saint Lucia.

The meeting, which was requested by Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, at the last meeting of CARICOM Heads in Barbados, had three objections:

  1. Establish coherence among negotiators on the critical issues in the negotiations toward a new climate change agreement in Paris in December 2015;
  2. Apprise of the areas of convergence and divergence in the ongoing climate change negotiations;
  3. Prepare Ministers for a meeting of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in New York today, Thursday ,24th September, 2015. The meetings is taking place on the eve of the Post 2015 Development Agenda Summit.

Saint Lucia holds lead responsibility for climate change and sustainable development within CARICOM.

Credit: St. Lucia News Online (Edited)

Climate Change vulnerabilities on SIDS can be addressed through partnerships!

Climate change poses a threat to survival in the Southwest Pacific, and in most of the small islands around the globe. Photo: FAO/Sue Price

The global challenges facing the small island developing States (SIDS) are the international community’s collective responsibility, today stated the top United Nations official at the Security Council.

“Combatting climate change, promoting sustainable development and addressing the vulnerabilities of SIDS will demand partnership, capacity and leadership,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who recalled that the SAMOA Pathway is here “to guide us.”

Last year’s Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa increased global attention on their contributions to sustainable development – but also on their unique vulnerabilities, Mr. Ban reminded to the Council members, who were meeting for an unprecedented debate about the situation of these countries.

From traditional armed conflict to transnational crime and piracy, illicit exploitation of natural resources, climate change and climate-related natural disasters and uneven development, small island developing States face a range of peace and security challenges, according to the concept note provided by New Zealand, which holds the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for the month of July.

Caribbean SIDS, for example, are vulnerable to drug-trafficking and gang-related violence, noted the Secretary-General, while unreported and unregulated fishing undermine local economies. Through its Maritime Crime Programme, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is actively engaged to help these countries in these areas.

“Taken together with the broader vulnerabilities faced by many of these States communities, these challenges can disproportionately affect national stability, fuel conflict across regions and ultimately have an impact on the maintenance of international peace and security,” adds the Security Council concept note.

For the Secretary-General, the first priority must be to support these States in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

“Second, we need a post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals that address the needs of SIDS,” he continued.

At the recent Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, which took place from July 13 to 16, it was encouraging that the concerns of [that group of countries] were reflected, including in critical areas such as debt, trade, technology and Official Development Assistance, Mr. Ban noted.

“Third, we need a meaningful and universal global climate agreement in Paris in December,” stressed the UN chief, as small island developing States are on the front lines of climate change.

“Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu is only the latest in a long string of devastation that SIDS have endured and will continue to endure as long as climate change is not adequately addressed,” he warned, underscoring that Caribbean countries sometimes experience as many as five hurricanes in a season.

Rising sea levels, dying coral reefs and the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters exacerbate the conditions leading to community displacement and migration, threatening to increase tensions over resources and affect domestic and regional stability, the Secretary-General went on to say.

“Leading by example,” many of these countries have been accelerating their own transition to renewable energy to secure a sustainable energy future. But, to support SIDS in their actions to combat climate change and adapt to its impacts, “a politically credible trajectory for mobilizing the pledged $100 billion dollars per year by 2020” is needed, he explained.

The Green Climate Fund will need to be up and running before the Climate Conference in Paris in December, but a “meaningful, universal climate agreement” must be adopted, concluded the Secretary-General.

Credit: UN News Centre

Dramatic Climate Change Factor for Masses of Sargasso from Texas to Tobago

sargasso in cancun

Beach resorts in Mexico continue to deal with the intrusive Sargasso problem that has left nearly all of its pristine beaches under a thick layer of the brown seaweed.

There has been an estimated 90 tons of sargassum algae washed up on Cancun’s beaches causing some tourists to cancel their sunny beach vacations. Mexican authorities are doing their best to deal with the issue, having recruited hundreds of diggers and machinery to clear the beaches.

The problem is not only along the Mexican coast though.

Since May, the seaweed has hit nearly every part of the Caribbean, causing major headaches from Texas all the way to the island of Tobago in the south Caribbean.

Scientists say that the seaweed is an important part of the coastal eco-system and explain that it plays an important role in beach nourishment. They also say that they have associated the massive quantities of this year’s seaweed in the Caribbean region with higher than normal temperatures and low winds, two elements that influence ocean currents.

sargasso playa del carmen beaches

Sargassum is a floating algae that circulates through the Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic where it forms the nearly 2 million-square-kilometer Sargasso Sea.

It is common for the seaweed to wash up on beaches in the Gulf, southern US Atlantic coast and northern Caribbean during the spring and summer months.

In 2011, however, the unwanted seaweed began showing up in unprecedented amounts, often in places it had never been seen before.

One example is a three-mile stretch of beach on Galveston Island, Texas where, over a 24-hour period, scientists recorded more than 8,400 tons of it. That occurred in a single day in May 2014.

Jim Franks, a senior research scientist at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, reports that the seaweed is showing up in areas where before, it had been seen only rarely or not all. He says that circulation patterns in the equatorial Atlantic even carried mats to Africa for the first time. Satellite data suggest the amount of sargassum in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and Atlantic may hit an all-time high in 2015.

Tobago’s Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment began removing sargassum from 16 beaches in early May, but officials admit their efforts were futile as the seaweed simply continued to wash ashore.

There have been many dramatic changes to the environment in recent years. The results of this dramatic climate change appears to be a factor in the reason for the explosion in sargassum. This means the seaweed-covered beaches from Texas to Tobago could be the new norm, a major inconvenience for beachgoers and a potential economic disaster for tourism industries.

Credit: Riviera Maya News

What’s Really Warming the World? New Study

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Methodology
NASA’s Model
Researchers who study the Earth’s climate create models to test their assumptions about the causes and trajectory of global warming. Around the world there are 28 or so research groups in more than a dozen countries who have written 61 climate models. Each takes a slightly different approach to the elements of the climate system, such as ice, oceans, or atmospheric chemistry.
The computer model that generated the results for this graphic is called “ModelE2,” and was created by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which has been a leader in climate projections for a generation. ModelE2 contains something on the order of 500,000 lines of code, and is run on a supercomputer at the NASA Center for Climate Simulation in Greenbelt, Maryland.
A Global Research Project
GISS produced the results shown here in 2012, as part of its contribution to an international climate-science research initiative called the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase Five. Let’s just call it “Phase-5.”
Phase-5 is designed both to see how well models replicate known climate history and to make projections about where the world’s temperature is headed. Initial results from Phase-5 were used in the 2013 scientific tome published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
There are more than 30 different kinds of experiments included in Phase-5 research. These tests address questions like, what would happen to the Earth’s temperature if atmospheric carbon dioxide suddenly quadrupled? Or, what would the world’s climate be like through 2300 if we keep burning fossil fuels at the current rate?
Phase-5 calls for a suite of “historical” experiments. Research groups were asked to see how well they could reproduce what’s known about the climate from 1850-2005. They were also asked to estimate how the various climate factors—or “forcings”—contribute to those temperatures. That’s why this graphic stops in 2005, even though the GISS observed temperature data is up-to-date. The years 2005-2012 were not a part of the Phase-5 “historical” experiment.
A Word About Temperatures
Climate scientists tend not to report climate results in whole temperatures. Instead, they talk about how the annual temperature departs from an average, or baseline. They call these departures “anomalies.” They do this because temperature anomalies are more consistent in an area than absolute temperatures are. For example, the absolute temperature atop the Empire State Building may be different by several degrees than the absolute temperature at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. But the differences from their own averages are likely to be about the same. It means that scientists can get a better idea about temperature with fewer monitoring stations. That’s particularly useful in places where measurement is very difficult (ie, deserts).
The simulation results are aligned to the observations using the 1880-1910 average. What’s most important about these temperatures are the trends—the shape and trajectory of the line, and not any single year’s temperature.
What the Lines Show
The black “observed” line is the GISS global land and ocean temperature record, which can be found here. It starts in 1880.
The colored temperature lines are the modeled estimates that each climate factor contributes to the overall temperature. Each factor was simulated five times, with different initial conditions; each slide here shows the average of five runs. GISS researchers laid out their historical simulations in detail last year in this article. The modeled years 1850-1879 from the Phase-5 “historical” experiment are not shown because the observed data begins in 1880.
Confidence Ranges
Researchers do not expect their models to reproduce weather events or El Niño phases exactly when they happened in real life. They do expect the models to capture how the whole system behaves over long periods of time. For example, in 1998 there was a powerful El Niño, when the equatorial Pacific Ocean warms ( we’re in another one of that scale now). A simulation wouldn’t necessarily reproduce an El Niño in 1998, but it should produce a realistic number of them over the course of many years.
The temperature lines represent the average of the model’s estimates. The uncertainty bands illustrate the outer range of reasonable estimates.
In short, the temperature lines in the modeled results might not line up exactly with observations. For any year, 95% of the simulations with that forcing will lie inside the band.
Data
Acknowledgments

Many thanks to Kate Marvel and Gavin Schmidt of NASA-GISS.

Credit: Bloomberg Business
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