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Regional NGO Moves To Advance Caribbean Climate Interests

Indi Mclymont Lafayette

PANOS Caribbean, together with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), will today launch a two-day climate change workshop geared at helping to advance the interests of Caribbean small-island developing states.The workshop, which is to see the participation of some 12 journalists and eight artistes from the region, is being held in St Lucia, ahead of this year’s international climate talks set for Paris, France in December.

The journalists and artistes, including Jamaica’s Aaron Silk, are complemented by participants from St Lucia’s Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science, and Technology – another partner in the workshop.

“The workshop is a prep meeting for Paris, pulling together a range of stakeholders, including popular artistes and journalists with the aim to come up with a strategy to bring attention to the small island position of ‘1.5 degrees to stay alive’,” said Indi Mclymont Lafayette, country coordinator and programme director with Panos.

“We really want to ensure that if an agreement is signed in Paris, it is one that won’t mean the death of small islands in the long run,” she added.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), including CARICOM, have as far back as the Copenhagen Talks in 2009, called for a long-term goal to “limit global average temperatures to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to long-term stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations to well below 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent”.

At the time, science adviser to AOSIS Dr Al Binger predicted that given sea-level rise, residents of small island states would eventually have to ‘swim for it’.

“We need to improve our boat-building art [and] teach our kids to swim because sooner or later, we are going to have to swim for it,” he said.

Speaking more recently at the French Embassy-hosted climate change debate in Kingston this year, physicist and head of the Climate Studies Group Mona, Dr Michael Taylor, painted a grim picture for a Caribbean in a world where average global temperatures exceed 1.5 degrees.

According to Taylor, the two degrees advanced by developed country partners may prove “too much for us to deal with”, given warmer days and nights and more variable rainfall, among other impacts,now being experienced.

Meanwhile, Mclymont Lafayette said the workshop – having educated artistes about climate change and journalists on reporting on it – would seek to craft a communication plan to bring a broader set of stakeholders up to date as to what is at stake for the region.

Strategy

“We are looking at a strategy over the next few months of some of the things that could be done. [These include] the journalists to report on climate change; the artistes to use their performing platforms and media interviews to bring attention to the issues and the negotiators to work in tandem with them,” she said.

“It would be good if we could have an awareness campaign leading up to Paris and also while in Paris, have a side event that would really capture a lot of the issues and provide a gateway for hearing or having good discussions on the impacts on the islands,”Mclymont Lafayette added.

The workshop – done with co-financing from Climate Analytics, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre – forms a part of a larger Panos project for which they continue to fundraise.

That project aims promote civil society involvement in the discourse on climate change in the region, through, among other things, facilitating their participation in the upcoming Paris Talks.

Credit: Jamaica Gleaner

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.

Small islands to sign historic treaty in Samoa

SIDS DOCK

Small islands to sign historic treaty in Samoa, to help finance climate change adaptation

Representatives from 31 small islands and low lying countries that are members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) will reaffirm their commitment to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy mechanism – SIDS DOCK – at an Official Ceremony for the Opening of Signature for the Statute Establishing the SIDS DOCK, on 1 September 2014, during the upcoming United Nations (UN) Third International Conference on SIDS, in Apia, Samoa, from 1-4 September. The opening for signature of this historic SIDS-SIDS Treaty is a significant highlight and outcome of the Conference, and a major step toward the treaty’s entry into force.

Representatives scheduled to attend the ceremony confirmed their continuing support for, and preparation to sign the Statute as soon as possible, and reiterated their resolve to continue cooperating to achieve its prompt entry into force and to support the SIDS DOCK goal of 25-50-25 by 2033: Island Energy For Island Life. SIDS need to mobilize and facilitate in excess of USD 20 billion by 2033, about USD 1 billion per year, to help finance the transformation of the SIDS energy sector in order to achieve a 25 percent (from the 2005 baseline) increase in energy efficiency, generation of a minimum of 50 percent of electric power from renewable sources, and a 25 percent decrease in conventional transportation fuel use, in order to significantly increase financial resources to enable climate change adaptation in SIDS.

The Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Finance, for the Commonwealth of Dominica, and acting in his country’s capacity as Chair of the SIDS DOCK Steering Committee, said that SIDS DOCK represents a significant achievement in solidifying SIDS-SIDS relationships and cooperation and is, “an extraordinary lesson learned of what can happen when a genuine partner takes ‘a chance’ on a new and innovative idea that has the potential to help SIDS adapt and become more resilient to the changing climate and sea level rise.”  Recognising that the lives of more than 20 million people in small islands and low lying states are at high risk, the majority of them young people, the Government of Denmark was the first country to provide support for SIDS DOCK start-up activities with a grant of USD 14.5 million in 2010, during climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark.  This gesture and demonstration of support was followed by a grant of USD 15 million, over two years in 2011, from the Government of Japan during climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.

In March 2014, in partnership with the United Nations Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO), the Government of Austria extended support under a Memorandum of Understanding, with a grant of 1 million euros, for start-up activities for Centres for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in the Caribbean (CCREEE), the Pacific (PCREEE), and support to African SIDS through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ECREEE in Cabo Verde, and at a later date, support for a centre in the Indian Ocean region (IOCREEE). The new centres will also act as SE4ALL Hubs, assisting SIDS to translate commitments to actions. SIDS DOCK is highly complementary to the work being done under the Sustainable Energy For All (SE4All) Initiative, a personal initiative of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, that has SIDS as the largest group of signatories and with the highest ambitions.

During the Third International Conference on SIDS, the Government of Samoa and its people will host hundreds of representatives from small islands and low lying states, donors, investors and civil society groups, to what is expected to be the most important conference on SIDS to date, and one that is expected to define SIDS in a Post-2015 world, with genuine partnerships at the core of the agenda.  SIDS DOCK is well-positioned to participate in the SIDS Post-2015 Agenda with its partners, the Governments of Denmark, Japan and Austria; the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO); The World Bank; and The Clinton Foundation – Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI).

During the Signing Ceremony on September 1, the Dominican Prime Minister will invite other members of the AOSIS to consider joining the organisation.  The Statute will remain open for signature in Apia, Samoa until September 5, and will re-open for signature in Belmopan, Belize, from September 6, 2014 until it enters into force.  Belize is the host country for SIDS DOCK, with Samoa designated as the location for the Pacific regional office.

Banner for Climate Resilient Islands Partnership
Background Note

SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES (SIDS) SUSTAINABLE ENERGY INITIATIVE – SIDS DOCK

A SIMPLE MESSAGE: SIDS DOCK IS A “CLIMATE CHANGE STORY”

SIDS DOCK[1] is a SIDS–SIDS institutional mechanism established to facilitate the development of a sustainable energy economy within the small islands and low lying developing states. Transforming the energy sector away from petroleum dependency is the pathway for SIDS to generate the significant levels of financial resources that will be needed for adaptation to the impacts of climate change. It is estimated that SIDS consume in excess of 220 million barrels of fuels, annually, and emit some 38 million tons of carbon.

The goals of SIDS DOCK are to mobilize in excess of USD 20 Billion, by 2033, or USD 1 billion per year, to help finance the transformation of the SIDS Energy Sector to achieve a 25 percent (2005 baseline) increase in energy efficiency, generation of a minimum of 50 percent of electric power from renewable sources, and a 25 percent decrease in conventional transportation fuel use, in order to enable climate change adaptation in SIDS. Some SIDS governments have announced more ambitious goals for the reduction of fossil fuel use in order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By providing SIDS with a dedicated and flexible mechanism to pursue sustainable energy, SIDS DOCK will make it easier for SIDS Development Partners to invest across multiple island States, and to more frequently reach investment scale that can be of interest to commercial global financing. 

SIDS DOCK will serve as a “DOCKing station” to increase SIDS access to international financing, technical expertise and technology, as well as a link to the multi-billion dollar  European and United States carbon markets – within which the potential value of trading avoided GHG emissions is estimated to be between USD 100-400 billion, annually. The funds generated will help countries develop and implement long-term adaptation measures.

SIDS DOCK has four principal functions:

  • Provide a mechanism to help SIDS generate the financial resources to invest in climate change adaptation;
  • Assist SIDS with developing a sustainable energy sector by increasing energy efficiency and developing renewable energy resources that minimizes dependence on imported fuels;
  • Provide a vehicle for mobilizing financial and technical resources to catalyse low carbon economic growth, and;
  • Provide SIDS with a mechanism for connecting with the global financial, technology, and carbon market taking advantage of the resource transfer possibilities that will be afforded.

SIDS DOCK is uniquely placed to work with private sector companies, tertiary institutions and governments to facilitate research across a range of specific environmental settings, technologies and best practices. This will produce a cyclical effect, as the stabilization of clean energy infrastructures will attract increased private sector and foreign investment. With respect to the legal framework, SIDS DOCK will be registered as a trans-regional international organization, vested with the legal personality of an international organization, and with the full rights, privileges, and immunities of an international organization. This Convention will be registered pursuant to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.

Further, SIDS DOCK will also be able to make recommendations to Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Member States on the optimal policy and legal framework necessary to encourage such investment. The associated assessments and research into policies, innovative approaches, and economic incentives will help to standardize and streamline the transition to a low carbon, highly efficient energy economy.  SIDS DOCK will finance its operations through a combination of multi-lateral and bilateral grants, philanthropic support and income generation from selected endeavours.

Financing, Institutionalization and Project Implementation

SIDS DOCK, the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), announced a historic partnership in March 2014, worth millions of Euros, to establish a network of regional Centres for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in SIDS. The Government of Austria, through the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), has committed to fund the establishment and first operational phase for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Centres in the Caribbean (CCREEE), Indian Ocean (IOCREEE), and the Pacific (PCREEE), and to provide support to the African islands at the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE).

Twenty-two SIDS have signed historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing a long-term partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) that will see the Partners working together to speed up innovative renewable energy projects and solutions that would significantly transform the SIDS energy sector to the benefit the population.  In 2012, President Clinton established a Diesel Replacement Project in small island developing states, a decision that grew from his expressed concerns about the high cost of electricity for imported diesel fuel for small island developing states as well as the adverse impact on climate change from the use of fossil fuels. 

SIDS DOCK was launched in December 2010, in Cancun, Mexico, with four Partners: the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); The World Bank, and the Government of Denmark, which announced a grant of USD14.5 million in start-up contributions. In December 2011, in Durban, South Africa, the Government of Japan joined the SIDS DOCK Partnership with a pledge of USD 15 million, over two years (2012-2014). In 2009, SIDS DOCK Members began the process of establishing the organisation through a Memorandum of Agreement, and on 1 September 2014, the Ceremony for the Opening of the Signing of the Statute Establishing the SIDS DOCK, is scheduled to take place at the UN Third International Conference on SIDS, in Apia, Samoa.

[1] SIDS DOCK Members: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Bahamas (Commonwealth of the), Dominica (Commonwealth of), Cabo Verde (Republic of), Cook Islands, Dominican Republic, Fiji (Republic of), Grenada, Jamaica, Kiribati (Republic of), Maldives (Republic of the), Marshall Islands (Republic of the), Mauritius (Republic of), Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru (Republic of), Niue, Palau (Republic of), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa (Independent State of), São Tomé and Príncipe (Democratic Republic of), Seychelles (Republic of the), Solomon Islands, Suriname (Republic of), Tonga (Kingdom of), Trinidad and Tobago (Republic of), Tuvalu, Vanuatu (Republic of)

Further information on SIDS DOCK participation at Samoa is available at: http://sidsdockforum2014.org/

Contact information:
Dr. Al Binger, Energy Advisor, CARICOM Climate Change Centre, and SIDS DOCK Coordinator, Belize. Email: abinger@sidsdock.org; Telephone: +1 301 873-4522
Mrs. Sheikha Bundhoo, Senior Information Officer, Office of the Prime Minister, Republic of Mauritius, and SIDS DOCK Communications Advisor. Email: jumpy952001@gmail.com; Telephone: +230 5728 0386

From the IPCC Report: will we be able to reduce GHG emissions?

5th IPCC Report Credit : Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC

5th Assessment IPCC Report
Credit : Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC

The Fifth IPCC Assessment Report has at last been completed and made ​​public. Since April 15th  the (third) volume Mitigation of Climate Change has been made available, concluding the triad of the most awaited publication from the world of climate change science and policy at the international level. The only piece missing to complete the work of the Fifth IPCC Assessment Report on Climate Change is the Synthesis Report, the document summarizing the three volumes published in recent months, which will be approved and published in late October 2014 in Copenhagen.

The first volume confirmed human responsibility for climate change, the second outlined the impacts and risks that have and will come of it. IPCC’s third working group, of which I am one of the Vice Presidents, is trying to find solutions to the problem of future climate change through appropriate mitigation policies, namely the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Prepared by 235 authors from 57 countries, the third volume of the report integrates more than 38,000 comments received by more than 800 expert reviewers in the various stages of writing and revision, to answer this question: what can and should we do to limit climate change as much as possible in the coming decades?

The Point We Are At

One of the main messages emerging from the work is that, despite the new awareness and mitigation efforts put in place over the past decades, the emissions of greenhouse gases have increased more rapidly between 2000 and 2010 than in any other decade: the rate of emission growth of the past decade has been 2.2% per year, while in the period between 1970 and 2000 it averaged 1.3% per year. 78% of emissions derive from the use of fossil fuels and industrial processes. The forestry sector is the only one experiencing a decline in emissions, due to the reduction of deforestation and hence an increased capacity by forests to absorb carbon dioxide.

What We Can Expect 

In the absence of more mitigation efforts than at present, the emissions increase (driven by population and economic growth in developing countries and insufficiently offset by significant improvements in energy efficiency in developed countries) will lead to an increase in average global temperature in 2100 of between 3.7 and 4.8 degrees centigrade in comparison with pre-industrial levels.

It is clear that if we continue on this path we will get adrift inexorably from the so-called “2-degree” target formalized in the COP 16 negotiations in Cancun (2010): the two-degree rise in temperature over preindustrial levels is recognized internationally as the threshold not to be exceeded if we are to comply with Article 2 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which stabilizes global emissions to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” But the Fifth IPCC Report also points out that this objective has become very difficult if not almost impossible to achieve by now, in the light of the levels of concentration of greenhouse gases already present in the atmosphere and expected in the coming years.

What Must Be Done And When

To close the 2-degree target gap, emissions must peak off as soon as possible and then decline by 40-70% within mid-century, reaching a total of zero in 2100. We need to act now, because any delay takes us adrift of any chance of a green transition that allows the decoupling of economic growth from the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, and significantly increases the mitigation costs. Mitigation options include actions for energy efficiency and decarbonization (renewable energy sources, nuclear power, carbon capture and storage of CO2 (CCS), bio-energy, reduction of deforestation and forest management, reduction and management of waste, carbon market, carbon taxation, reduction or removal of subsidies for fossil fuels, and overall changes in lifestyle). The IPCC report gives no recommendation for the most appropriate measures to be taken but limits itself to analyzing them all accurately, in order to provide policymakers with the tools to make informed, effective decisions.

The Ideal World

The optimal situation for dealing successfully and efficiently with the climate challenge is one in which all the countries of the world implement immediate mitigation actions, in which there is a single carbon price in a worldwide emissions market, and in which a combination of all the technological solutions and policies listed above is available and usable in all sectors (production and use of energy, industry, transport, agriculture, forestry, urban development). In this ideal world the costs of mitigation might be limited. But unfortunately this ideal world doesn’t exist….

Costs, Benefits And Investments

In an ideal world scenario of mitigation as described above, one that meets the two-degree target, the costs are estimated at between 1 and 4% of worldwide GDP in 2030 and between 2 and 6% in 2050. These are only the direct costs, which do not take into account the benefits that would result from maintaining a climate more similar to today’s, from having reduced air pollution, lower impacts on ecosystems, water and land use, as well as greater energy security. But the costs will increase rapidly if the mitigation measures are applied late, or if some of the currently available technologies (nuclear or CCS for example) were not fully applicable, or if the resources for necessary investments were not forthcoming….

For the first time, the IPCC Report also assesses the investments needed to achieve the two-degree target: in the next two decades (2010-2029) investments in clean energy production technologies will have to increase by 100%, that is redouble, while investments in fossil fuels decrease by 20%.

Also An Ethical Question

From the data presented in the report, which will be used as a scientific basis in international negotiations under the UNFCCC in the coming years, there are striking inequalities in per capita emissions of greenhouse gases: high-income countries have per capita emissions even nine times higher than those of the poorer countries. The issue of climate change is not, therefore, just an environmental issue but also a matter of economic and social equity that forces us to face the impacts that the climate challenge poses, which are more severe in the developing (and hence more vulnerable) countries. Most of the growth in emissions that has taken place since 1970 is the responsibility of the industrialized countries, associated with their economic development. The recent rise in emissions, and that foreseen for the future, is instead linked largely to the regions in the developing world, which are growing at a very rapid pace. Hence it is necessary to establish a cooperation between countries that implies an ethical, responsible commitment on the part of those that have so far contributed most to the problem, i.e. the developed countries, and a likewise ethical, responsible commitment on the part of those that in the future are destined to exceed the tolerable limit of human interference with the climate system.

Credit: International Centre for Climate Governance

CCCCC broadens campaign on impact of climate change


The Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) says it has broadened its “1.5 ˚C to Stay Alive” campaign that was launched ahead of COP15 in Copenhagen in December 2009.

The two tiered campaign sought to sensitize citizens across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) about the impact of climate change on livelihoods in the region, and make a convincing case at the global level for the reduction of green house gasses (GHG) emissions to a level not exceeding 350 ppm (parts per million) as an effective means of stabilising global warming.

The Copenhagen Accord contained several key elements on which there was strong convergence of the views of governments. This included the long-term goal of limiting the maximum global average temperature increase to no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, subject to a review in 2015.

There was, however, no agreement on how to do this in practical terms. It also included a reference to consider limiting the temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees – a key demand made by vulnerable developing countries.

The CCCCC said it has since broadened its effort through the crafting of curricular resources designed for Caribbean children ages 12 to 16.

It said that these resources, crafted by educators in collaboration with the Centre’s technical team, forms part of the  thrust to embed climate change in the region’s education sector beginning in Belize.

“The Caribbean is among the most vulnerable group of countries to the effects of climate change and climate variability.  Given its particularly youthful population, the Region must engage this significant demographic to shape a robust and appropriate range of responses to ensure climate resilience and safeguard livelihoods,” said CCCCC’s communication specialist, Tyrone Hall.

“The Centre has been long interested in developing a comprehensive programme that can build awareness and move the Region’s youth towards meaningful action.

“We ran a youth forum on climate change in Belize about four years ago, and one of the outcomes from that initiative was the need for climate change education to be mainstreamed into the education sector. So the 1.5 Stay Alive Education Initiative is a response to that particular finding,” he added.

Hall said that the CCCCC will be piloting the resource in Belize, “while simultaneously working with our partners throughout the region to have it utilized.

“Earth Hour Caribbean is just around the corner and we’ll be using that as an opportunity to really publicize the resource.”

The four unit curriculum – The Warming Climate, Sea Level Rise, Pine Forest and Social Impacts of Global Warming – includes classroom face to face interaction, field trips, workbooks and varied assessments, has a total of 46 wide-ranging lessons with supporting resources and several videos.

CMC/pr/ir/2014

Credit: CMC; Also see the Antigua Observer.

“The latest IPCC Assessment Report should serve as a further wakeup call to our region,” ~5Cs

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Belmopan, Belize September 27, 2013― The IPCC Working Group I assessment report, Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis, confirms the Caribbean Community’s longstanding call to limit global temperature rise to 1.50C. At the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (CoP) Meeting in 2009, which took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Caribbean Community indicated to the world community that a global temperature rise above 1.50C would seriously affect the survival of the community.

In 2010 at the UNFCCC CoP Meeting in Cancun, governments agreed that emissions need to be kept at a level that would ensure global temperature increases would be limited to below 20C. At that time, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) re-iterated that any rise in temperature above 1.50C would seriously affect their survival and compromise their development agenda.

The latest Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report AR5 re-affirms the position reached in its AR4 Report.  The position reached at that time was that it is very likely that the temperature rise will be in excess of 20C with a possible rise as high as 30C.

The United Nations (UN) Human Development Report (2008) and the State of the World Report (2009) of The Worldwatch Institute have identified 20C as the threshold above which irreversible and dangerous climate change will become unavoidable.

The latest IPCC Assessment Report should 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 reduction in emissions level.

Also read: Human influence on the climate system is clear, says new IPCC report

“The urgency and seriousness of Climate Change calls for ambition in financing adaptation and mitigation”, says Dr. Kenrick Leslie, CBE

Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie, CBE

Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie, CBE

“The urgency and seriousness of Climate Change calls for ambition in financing adaptation and mitigation”, according to Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre Dr. Kenrick Leslie, CBE. He adds that this urgency is longstanding as it was recognized over two decades ago at the Rio Convention.

Speaking at the recently concluded (July 15-16) Caribbean Regional Workshop on Climate Change Finance and the Green Climate Fund in Barbados, Dr. Leslie noted that at that watershed convention countries agreed that:

  • Developed countries would curb consumption and production patterns
  • Developing countries would maintain development goals but take on sustainable development approaches
  • Developed countries would support developing countries through finance, technology transfer and reforms to the global economic and financial structures

 Dr. Leslie notes that even with these longstanding commitments progress has been limited.

Despite continued intergovernmental processes, there has been little implementation of the agreements. At the time a pledge to commit 0.7% of national income to international aid was made. This pledge has only been met by five countries and where given, aid is unpredictable and poorly targeted and/or administered.

The two day regional workshop at which Dr. Leslie spoke primarily sought to review the various financial mechanisms, including the Green Climate Fund, available to developing countries— specifically Caribbean Community member countries.

Developed countries pledged to provide new and additional resources, including forestry and investments, approaching US$30 billion for the period 2010 – 2012 and with balanced allocation between mitigation and adaptation. This collective commitment made at the Conference of the Parties (COP15) in December 2009 in Copenhagen is known as ‘fast-start finance’.

 The Fast Start Funds:
  1.   New and additional resources
  2. US$30 billion annually through 2013
  3.  Increasing to 100 billion by 2020

Unfortunately neither of the first two commitments has been accomplished

 Following up on this pledge, the Conference of the Parties in Cancún, in December 2010, took note of this collective commitment by developed country Parties and reaffirmed that funding for adaptation will be prioritized for the most vulnerable developing countries, such as the least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa, said Dr. Leslie.

 What’s the Green Fund?

The Green Fund is the most recent of the Climate Change-related Funds now being developed for operational implementation in the near future. The Fund seeks to make a significant and ambitious contribution to the global efforts towards attaining the goals set by the international community to combat climate change.

It is the expectation that this fund, unlike the other funds, will be better administered with an improved governance structure and will contribute to the achievement of the ultimate objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In the context of sustainable development, it is the expectation that the Fund will promote the paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries, such as Members of the Caribbean Community, to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change, taking into account the needs of those developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. The importance of this last statement is highlighted in the latest report (Turn Down the Heat) from the World Bank on Climate Change

Review Dr. Leslie’s speech here. Learn more about Turn Down the Heat.

Also read: Dr. Ulric Trotz says the Caribbean lags in climate finance

Reflection on the 2012 Doha Climate Change Talks

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, says Caribbean delegates played a major role at last year’s climate change talks in Doha, including as Chairs of Contact groups and lead negotiators representing the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS) or the Group of 77 and China. He notes that the region would like to see the establishment of a Loss and Damage mechanism included in the successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. Read his reflection on the 2012 Doha climate change talks.

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liasion Officer

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liasion Officer

The annual United Nations Climate Change Talks were held in Doha, Qatar from 26 November to 6 December 2012. It consisted of meetings of all seven bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) including the 18th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP), the highest body of the Convention, and the 8th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties of the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), which is the highest body of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Caribbean delegations attending the meetings were hoping to achieve three main objectives: to ensure the continuity of the Kyoto Protocol, to ensure a successful conclusion of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action under the Convention, and to establish a loss and damage mechanism. Most of these objectives were realized.

The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ended on the 31st of December 2012. Developed countries had agreed when they signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 that they would collectively reduce their emissions of greenhouse by 5% of their 1990 levels during the period 2008 to 2012. A carbon market consisting of three flexibility mechanisms were created to assist these countries in meeting their targets. These would have collapsed without a successor agreement. Most of the original developed country signatories to the protocol agreed to an 8-year second commitment period which would result in a collective emission reduction of 18% below their 1990 levels. Japan, New Zealand and the Russian Federation refused to undertake commitments in the second period. The United States of America never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and Canada withdrew last year. A new gas, nitrogen trifluoride, was added to the list of gases controlled by the Kyoto Protocol. Countries agreed that Joint Implementation projects, which are projects between developed countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, should contribute 2% of their proceeds to the Adaptation Fund.

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects are implemented in developing countries and the carbon credits generated are sold to developed countries which have emission reduction targets under Kyoto. Countries further agreed that only those countries which had taken on commitments in the second period could participate in theses flexibility mechanisms. All these agreements required amendments to the Protocol and these amendments must be ratified nationally. To ensure that there is no delay in the implementation of the amendments, countries agreed to [provisional application of the amendments or to use existing national legislation while the ratification process is being pursued.

In 2007 at COP 13, countries agreed to the Bali Action Plan which identified the seven areas which would be addressed to ensure long term cooperative action on climate change. These included a shared vision, mitigation by both developed and developing countries, adaptation, technology, finance and capacity building. These negotiations, including the agreement on a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, should have been concluded in Copenhagen at COP 15. Although that attempt failed, the stage was set for agreement in the ensuing years for commitments by developed countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. Countries agreed on a shared vision of limiting global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to revisit that target with a view to reducing it to 1.5°C based on new scientific evidence. Developing countries agreed to undertake actions to reduce their emissions if they were provided with the financial and technical support. These Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) would be matched with donor support via a Registry managed by the Secretariat of the UNFCCC.

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Negotiations for a mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, including through conservation (REDD+), were launched. New market mechanisms including through sectoral approaches would be developed. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was established as the new vehicle for climate financing. A Standing Committee was established to provide oversight on all the steams of climate financing. A new technology mechanism was established to promote and facilitate development, deployment and transfer of technology for adaptation and mitigation. An Adaptation Committee and the Durban Capacity Building Platform were established. At Doha, the last outstanding institutional mechanisms for these new bodies were developed. These will form the basis of a new protocol or legally binding instrument to address climate change. This new agreement will be finalized by 2015 and will come into effect in 2020.

One element that Caribbean countries wish to see incorporated in the new agreement would be for the establishment of a Loss and Damage mechanism. This has been one of the goals of small island developing states (SIDS) since negotiations commenced on a climate change convention in 1990. All that has been achieved so far is the cursory mention of insurance in one article of the Convention. At Doha countries agreed that the COP would consider the establishment of institutional arrangements including an international mechanism to address loss and damage when it met in Warsaw at COP 19.

Caribbean delegates played major roles at the negotiation including as Chairs of Contact groups and lead negotiators representing the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS) or the Group of 77 and China. Trinidad and Tobago will assume the chairmanship of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform in June 2013. This is the body that is negotiating the new agreement.

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