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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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