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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.

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)

CARICOM Unified on COP24 Expectations

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

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.”

Andrea Polanco

“With the IPCC Report, does it change the way you are going to go into COP24?”

Carlos Fuller

“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

IPCC Report Front and Center of CARICOM’s Approach to COP24

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

Caribbean Water Ministers Will Address Water and Climate Issues to Help Shape the Development Agenda

In September, the United Nations will finalise a Post-2015 Development Agenda known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs follow and expand on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire at the end of the year and will be “the global community’s plan of action” for all dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) for the next fifteen (15) years.

On the heels of establishing this new universal Agenda; Caribbean Ministers with responsibility for water resources management from more than ten (10) countries, will meet on August 27th and 28th, 2015 at the InterContinental Hotel in Miami, Florida to discuss critical regional water and climate issues. Both water and climate change are reflected as priorities in the soon to be confirmed SDGs, with Goal 6 being: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” and Goal 13 being: “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”

This Ministerial Meeting is the 11th Annual High Level Forum (HLF) which is being organised by the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) and the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility – funded Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management (GEF CReW) Project. The 11th HLF which takes place under the theme “Connecting Water to Climate, Economic Growth and Development within the Post-2015 Development Agenda” forms part of the CWWA’s 24th Annual Conference and Exhibition which is being held in partnership with the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

The 11th HLF takes place at an appropriate time to allow for discussion and collaboration on water and climate matters to help shape the sustainable development agenda of the region. This year’s Forum is forward-looking with a goal of producing concrete outcomes and harmonised recommendations to guide national and regional efforts in operationalising water, wastewater and climate goals and targets for sustainable development. Some outcomes of the Forum are likely to feed into the contribution to be made by Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December to play a pivotal part of global processes for advancing sustainable development.

According to Dr. Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary-General of Human and Social Development of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), who will be a keynote speaker at the 11th HLF “Climate change will continue to have serious implications for water resources in the region,” linking the two critical issues. He has also stated that partnership remains one of the means of implementation needed to achieve sustainable water development goals. In addition to CARICOM and the Caribbean Ministers with responsibility for water and their senior government officials, representatives from regional and international agencies such as the United Nations Environment Programme Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP), the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association Inc. (CAWASA), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Pan America Health Organisation (PAHO), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) are expected to attend. Professor John Agard who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change, will moderate a Ministerial panel discussion at the Forum.

 Credit: WINN FM 98.9

Caribbean Launches the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report on Climate Change

 

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.

Peruse CDKN’s IPCC AR5: What’s in it for SIDS report?

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.

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This is a Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) supported event.

Caribbean seeks to take full advantage of new U.N. climate fund

Dr Kenrick Leslie, CBE; Credit: Earl Green

Dr Kenrick Leslie, CBE; Credit: Earl Green

The South Korea-based Green Climate Fund (GCF) is open for business, and Caribbean countries are hoping that it will prove to be much more beneficial than other global initiatives established to deal with the impact of climate change.

“Despite our region’s well-known, high vulnerability and exposure to climate change, Caribbean countries have not accessed or mobilised international climate finance at levels commensurate with our needs,” said Dr. Warren Smith, the president of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

The CDB, which ended its annual board of governors meeting here on Thursday, May 29, had the opportunity for a first-hand dialogue on the operations on the GCF, through its executive director, Hela Cheikhrouhou, who delivered the 15th annual William Demas Memorial lecture.

But even as she addressed the topic “The Green Climate Fund; Great Expectations,” Smith reminded his audience that on a daily basis the Caribbean was becoming more aware of the severe threat posed by climate change.

“Seven Caribbean countries…are among the top 10 countries, which, relative to their GDP, suffered the highest average economic losses from climate-related disasters during the period 1993-2012.

“It is estimated that annual losses could be between five and 30 percent of GDP within the next few decades,” he added.

According to a Tufts University report, published after the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) study and comparing an optimistic rapid stabilisation case with a pessimistic business-as-usual case, the cost of inaction in the Caribbean will have dramatic consequences in three key categories. Namely hurricane damages, loss of tourism revenue and infrastructure damage due to sea-level rise.

The costs of inaction would amount to 22 percent of GDP for the Caribbean as a whole by 2100 and would reach an astonishing 75 percent or more of GDP by 2100 in Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Turks and Caicos.

“In the Caribbean, the concern of Small Island Developing States is all too familiar – the devastating effects of hurricanes have been witnessed by many. Although Caribbean nations have contributed little to the release of the greenhouse gases that drive climate change, they will pay a heavy price for global inaction in reducing emissions,” Cheikhrouhou warned.

Executive director of the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), Dr. Kenrick Leslie told IPS that regional countries were now putting their project proposals together to make sure they could take full advantage of the GCF.

“The CARICOM [Caribbean Community] heads of government, for instance have asked the centre to help in putting together what they consider bankable projects and we are in the process of going to each member state to ensure that we have projects that as soon as the GCF comes on line we would be among the first to be able to present these projects for consideration.”

Leslie said that in the past, Caribbean countries had been faced with various obstacles in order to access funds from the various global initiatives to deal with climate change.

“For instance if we mention the Clean Development Mechanism [CDM], the cost was prohibitive because our programmes were so small that the monies you would need upfront to do it were not attractive to the investors.”

He said the Caribbean also suffered a similar fate from the Adaptation Fund, noting “we have moved to another level where they said we will have greater access, but again the process was much more difficult than we had anticipated.”

The GCF was agreed at the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Cancun, Mexico.  Its purpose is to make a significant contribution to the global efforts to limit warming to 2°C by providing financial support to developing countries to help limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. There are hopes that the fund could top 100 billion dollars per annum by 2020.

“Our vision is to devise new paradigms for climate finance, maximise the impact of public finance in a creative way, and attract new sources of public and private finance to catalyse investment in adaptation and mitigation projects in the developing world,” the Tunisian-born Cheikhrouhou told IPS.

She said that by catalysing public and private funding at the international, regional, and national levels through dedicated programming in climate change mitigation and adaptation, and as a driver of climate resilient development, the GCF is poised to play a relevant and timely role in climate action globally.

Cheikhrohou said that it would be most advisable if Caribbean countries “can think of programmatic approaches to submit proposals that are aggregating a series of projects or a project in a series of countries.”

She said that by adopting such a strategy, it would allow regional countries “to reach the scale that would simplify the transaction costs for each sub activity for the country” and that that she believes the GCF has “built on the lessons learnt from the other mechanisms and institutions in formulating our approach.

“To some extent there is embedded in the way of doing work this idea of following the lead of the countries making sure they are the ones to come forward with their strategic priorities and making sure we have the tools to accompany them through the cycle of activities, projects or programmes starting with the preparatory support for the development of projects,” she told IPS.

Selwin Hart, the climate change finance advisor with the CDB, said the GCF provides an important opportunity for regional countries to not only adapt to climate change but also to mitigate its effects. He is also convinced that it would assist the Caribbean move towards renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“The cost of energy in the Caribbean is the highest in the world. This represents a serious strike on competitiveness, economic growth and job creation and the GCF presents a once in a lifetime opportunity for countries to have a stable source to financing to address the vulnerabilities both as it relates to importing fossil fuels as well as the impacts of climate change,” he said.

Credit: Thomas Reuters Foundation; CMC/pr/ir/2014
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