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How worried should Barbados be about climate change?
As a small island economy with little industrial production and hence small emissions of green house gases, Barbados is not considered a major player when it comes to causing problems associated with climate change.
However, its small island status, and economic vulnerability means that Barbados, like its Caribbean neighbours and other small islands is likely to be the major victim of climate change.
One of the major concerns would be the impact a hotter earth and more damaged ozone layer would likely have on tourism and the environment, including the ecosystem.
Four years ago, the United Nations Economic Commission For Latin America And The Caribbean produced a report entitled An Assessment Of The Economic Impact Of Climate Change On The Tourism Sector Of Barbados.
It observed that Caribbean islands “contribute less than one per cent to global GHG emissions, yet these countries are expected to be among the earliest and most severely affected by climate change in the coming decades and the least able to adapt to climate change impacts”.
In the case of Barbados’ tourism, a sector which is the island’s main source of economic wealth, the report concluded: “By combining the impacts due to a reduction in tourist arrivals, coral reef loss and sea level rise, the estimated total economic impact of climate change on the tourism sector in Barbados to 2050 is US$7.6 million and US$5.1 million.”
“A number of mitigation and adaptation options were considered. An economic analysis of the benefits and costs was undertaken to decide which of these options was most appropriate for Barbados. The four options that were most attractive in decreasing order were enhanced reef monitoring systems to provide early warning alerts of bleaching events, artificial reefs or fish aggregating devices, development of national adaptation plans, revise policies related to financing carbon neutral tourism and increase recommended design wind speeds for new tourism related structures.”
Outside of tourism, climate change could be costly for other sectors Barbados depends on, including agriculture, but beyond that there is also the major cost of mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Speaking on climate change during an address in Malta last month, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said: “I have placed climate change at the top of my agenda as it presents both a challenge and an opportunity for our region. It is a challenge our region cannot ignore as it threatens the very fabric of our societies and economies.”
He added: “A timely and ambitious response, however, provides an unparalleled opportunity for our region to be in the forefront of the global transformation to a low carbon climate resilient economy.”
The seriousness of climate change is illustrated by the estimate that climate change related events such as hurricanes and drought could cost the region annually US$22 billion by 2050.
Juan Cheaz Pelaez, senior programme coordinator for Agricultural Policy and Value Chains at the Technical Institute For Agricultural And Rural Cooperation, asserted that climate change had left an estimated US$136 billion in loss and damage throughout the region between 1990 and 2008.
“I can tell you there are huge economic losses every year related to climate change and, therefore, the need from all actors that are concerned and that are affected to try and mitigate and adapt and to be proactive to try to avoid that…The Caribbean region can be taken back 20 to 30 years because of the issue of climate change,” he said.
“One climate related phenomenon can do away with many livelihoods. So it is a modern part of economics and also of people’s livelihood. It’s very relevant to the Caribbean and to having an economy in general that is resilient and an agriculture that is resilient.”
Barbados Agriculture Society chief executive officer James Paul was concerned about the impact climate change would have on agriculture.
He said: “The time to sit idly by and watch it happen has passed and it is through a determined effort to effect policy changes that will counter the impact of the neoliberal economic changes and mitigate the impact of climate change that we can be successful.”
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has also addressed issues related to climate change and how they were likely to impact Barbados. Last year, while addressing a dinner for people attending the eighth meeting of the board of the Green Climate Fund, the minister said with countries like Barbados facing fiscal challenges, support was needed to enhancce institutional and technical capabilities and to design new policies and suitable adaptation programmes.
“In addition, we need to be able to have, at the ready, a portfolio of bankable projects eligible for funding under the Green Climate Fund, which we must be able to execute quickly and effectively,” he said.
Credit: Nation News
The Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC) was launched today (Monday, January 27, 2014) at the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) in Trinidad and Tobago. The World Bank/infoDev initiative, which is being administered by the Jamaica-based Scientific Research Council and Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI), will function as an incubator for businesses solving climate change problems and promote investment in green technology in the region. The Centre is one of eight globally, as others are located in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Morocco, South Africa and Vietnam.
The Centre will provide grant funding of up to US$50,000.00 to MSMEs/ entities to assist them in developing prototypes for commercialization.
The Centre’s five focus areas are:
Solar Energy – e.g. Residential and commercial self generation, residential and commercial water heating, solar powered air conditioning
Resource Use Efficiency – e.g. waste-to energy, materials recovery, reuse and recycling
Sustainable Agribusiness – e.g. water/ energy efficient irrigation systems; waste management; high value agribusiness; sustainable land use practices; waste to energy; wind and solar energy for farms
Energy Efficiency – e.g. Lighting, household appliances, air conditioning, commercial cooling and ventilation systems, consumer behavior, building and energy management systems, building design and materials
Water Management – e.g. Potable water, rain water harvesting, efficient irrigation, wastewater treatment and recycling, water use efficiency, desalination
Dr Ulric Trotz, Chairperson of the CCIC, and Deputy Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, says the CCIC comes to fruition at a point when unsustainable and inefficient energy consumption exacerbates the enormous socio-economic constraints faced by Member States of the Caribbean Community.
The region, which is among the most vulnerable places to climate change and climate variability, imports in excess of 170 million barrels of petroleum products annually, with 30 million barrels used in the electric sector alone, at a cost of up to 40% of already scarce foreign exchange earnings. This dependence on ever more expensive imported fossil fuels increases our economic vulnerability and reduces our ability to invest in climate compatible development. Therefore, it’s crucial that we support initiatives that can make the region’s energy sector more efficient through increased use of renewable energy, which will in turn reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
This comes at a time when economies around the world are re-orientating towards low-carbon, green growth pathways, which have the potential to make some of our established industries, including tourism, more attractive to discerning travellers who are willing to spend more for environmentally sensitive travel packages.
The Centre offers this region a unique opportunity to leverage technological innovation in its bid to adapt and mitigate challenges brought forth by climate change, with particular focus on energy efficiency, resource use, agriculture and water management, as the regional technology space is rapidly evolving and seems poised to take-off with the advent of events and groups like DigiJam 3.0, Caribbean Startup Week, Slashroots, among others. This is encouraging as the development, deployment and diffusion of technology are key factors in any effort to mitigate and adapt to the current and future impacts of climate change. So the Centre is uniquely positioned to capitalize on these developments and focus them to achieve essential technological advancement.
~Dr Ulric Trotz, Chairperson of the CCIC, and Deputy Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre
Please view the CCIC website at www.caribbeancic.org for further information.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a guidance document today that calls for more to be done to capitalize on agriculture’s potential to mitigate climate change.
The organization says agriculture is directly responsible for over 10 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But improved farming practices offer the possibility of reducing those emissions and sequestering atmospheric carbon, while at the same time increasing the resilience of production systems, says the document, National planning for GHG mitigation in agriculture, published by FAO’s Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture Programme (MICCA).
Yet progress in drawing up agricultural GHG mitigation plans — as well as in allocating financing to climate change projects in the agriculture sector — is falling short of what is needed, cautions FAO.
The document aims to help address these shortfalls by providing step-wise advice and examples of national planning for GHG mitigation in food production systems, as well as highlighting opportunities for developing countries to secure climate financing for agriculture.
Examples from existing mitigation planning processes in developing countries illustrate options for addressing key planning elements in country-specific ways, and approaches to involving smallholder farmers in the planning process are highlighted as well.
Key steps, guiding principles
Although opportunities and planning processes will vary from country to country based on local circumstances, a number of general principals hold true, FAO says.
First, mitigation actions in agriculture should be pursued within the context supporting agricultural development and food security, with planners clarifying from the start how mitigation can contribute to national development goals.
Participatory planning and cross-sectoral cooperation will be important to the success of mitigation plans, the report adds. Farmers and other stakeholders should be involved in setting objectives, actions and targets, both to generate support for and to improve the effectiveness of planned policies.
To access international and domestic financing, plans should be very specific regarding how to assess the mitigation potential of proposed policies and measures. Sound systems for measuring the impacts of policies and reporting other performance metrics are also necessary when seeking financing for projects.
Another key step is to identify the barriers that impede adoption of mitigation practices by farmers. Many agricultural practices that can mitigate climate change are already widely known — effective policies need to identify why farmers may not be adapting them, work to remove barriers, and facilitate their wider use.
Also crucial: determining how mitigation policies and measures will be financed.
Some countries are supporting agricultural mitigation activities primarily through domestic fiscal budget lines and policies that leverage private investment, the report notes. For many countries, however, an important goal of mitigation planning is to attract international financial support, in order to match the priorities of international climate finance institutions to specific parts of domestic mitigation plans.