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Jamaica’s drought tool could turn table on climate change

Drought-map_-629x432

On a very dry November 2013, Jamaica’s Meteorological Service made its first official drought forecast when the newly developed Climate Predictability Tool (CPT) was used to predict a high probability of below average rainfall in the coming three months.

By February, the agency had officially declared a drought in the eastern and central parishes of the island based on the forecasts. July’s predictions indicated that drought conditions would continue until at least September.

Said to be the island’s worst in 30 years, the 2014 drought saw Jamaica’s eastern parishes averaging rainfall of between 2 and 12 per cent, well below normal levels. Agricultural data for the period shows that production fell by more than 30 per cent over 2013 and estimates are that losses due to crop failures and wild fires amounted to US$1 billion.

Jamaica’s agricultural sector accounts for roughly seven per cent of the island’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 20 per cent of its workforce.

The Met Service’s, Glenroy Brown told IPS, “The CPT was the main tool used by our Minister (of Water, Land, Environment & Climate Change) Robert Pickersgill throughout 2015 to advise the nation on the status of drought across the island.”

It was also used but the National Water Commission (NWC) to guide its implementation of island-wide water restrictions.

A technician with Jamaica’s Met Service, Brown designed and implemented the tool in collaboration with Simon Mason, a climate scientist from Columbia University’s International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“The tool provides a Windows package for constructing a seasonal climate drought forecast model, producing forecasts with updated rainfall and sea surface temperature data,” he explained.

The innovation was one of the first steps in building resilience under Jamaica’s national climate policy. It provides drought-monitoring forecasts that allows farmers to plan their planting around dry periods and has been “tailored for producing seasonal climate forecasts from a general circulation model (GCM), or for producing forecasts using fields of sea-surface temperatures,” Brown said.

The tool combines a number of applications including Google Earth and localized GIS maps, to generate one to five day forecasts that are country and location specific. The information is broken down and further simplified by way of colour-coded information and text messages for the not so tech-savvy user.

The tool designed by Brown and Mason also incorporated IRI’s own CPT (designed by Mason) that was already being used by Caribbean countries with small meteorological services and limited resources, to produce their own up-to-date seasonal climate forecasts. The new tool combined data on recent rainfall and rainfall predictions to provide a forecast that focused specifically on drought.

“It was important for us to design a system that addressed Jamaica’s needs upfront, but that would also be suitable for the rest of the region,” Mason noted.

The scientists explained, “Because impact of a drought is based on the duration of the rainfall” and not only the amount of rainfall, looking forward is not enough to predict droughts because of factors related to accumulation and intensification.

“What we’re doing is essentially putting a standard three-month rainfall forecast in context with recent rainfall measurements,” Mason, told USAID’s publication Frontlines last May. He noted that if below-normal rainfall activity was recorded during an unusually dry period, indications were there was a “fairly serious drought” ahead.

Sheldon Scott from Jamaica’s Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) told IPS that farmers who used the SMS information were able to avoid the worse effects of the drought.

“The impacts were visible in relation to farmers who used the information and others who didn’t, because those who did were able to manage the mitigating factors more effectively,” he said.

During the period, more than 500 farmers received text alerts and about 700,000 bulletins were sent to agricultural extension officers.

Among the farmers who signed up for text messaging service, Melonie Risden told Frontlines, “The information we received from the Met office gave us drought forecasts in terms of probabilities. We still decided to plant because we were fortunate to have access to the river and could fill up water drums ahead of time in anticipation of the drought.”

Risden lost the corn she planted on the 13-acre property in Crooked River, Clarendon, one of the parishes hardest hit by the drought with only two per cent of normal rainfall, but was able to save much of the peas, beans and hot peppers.

Six months after Jamaica’s Met Service made its ground-breaking forecast, the CIMH presented the first region-wide drought outlook at the Caribbean Regional Climate Outlook Forum in Kingston. Now 23 other Caribbean and Central American countries are using the tool to encourage climate change resilience and inform decision-making.

“Regionally the tool is now a standard fixture across several countries within the region, including the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Haiti. This regional effort is coordinated by the CIMH,” Brown said.

Back in Jamaica, the tool is being hailed “a game-changer” in the climate fight by Jeffery Spooner head of the Met Service, who described the CPT as “an extremely important tool in Climate Change forecasting and specifically for the agricultural – including fisheries- and water sectors for rainfall projection .”

The CPT is now also used to provide regular monthly bulletins that are published by the Meteorological Service on their web site www.jamaicaclimate.net. RADA has also continued to use the CPT in its extension service, to enhance the ability of farmers’ and other agricultural interests to improve water harvesting, planting and other activities.

Since most of the island’s small farms depend on rainfall, more farmers – including those with large holdings – are using the information to better manage water use and guide their activities, Scott said.

Local and intentional scientists have linked the extreme atmospheric conditions related to the droughts affecting Jamaica and the region to the persistent high-pressure systems that has prevented the formation of tropical cyclones to global warming and climate change.

Across the agricultural sector, Jamaica continues to feel the impacts of drought and the challenges are expected to increase with the climate change. In a 2013 agricultural sector support analysis, the Inter-American Development Bank estimated, low impact on extreme climate events on Jamaica’s agriculture sector by 2025 could reach 3.4 per cent of “baseline GDP” annually.

In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Synthesis Report (AR5) pointed to tools like the CPT to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Its importance to Jamaica’s and the region’s food security and water sector cannot be overlooked.

In addition to adaptation for the water sector, the CPT is being modified to provide early warning indicators for wind speeds and coral bleaching among other applications, said the report.

And as showers of blessings cooled the land and brought much relief in the closing months of the year, CPT shows the drought could well be over.

Credit: Caribbean 360

Climate Talks: What’s at Stake for the World’s Species

Infographic shows how even under 2 degrees Celsius of global warming, one in 20 species could go extinct, at great cost to economies, health and food.

The golden toad is one of two species that is already considered extinct due to climate change. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Editor’s Note: This infographic is part of the ICN “What’s at Stake” series highlighting the key impacts associated with climate change. See also What’s at Stake for the World’s Coasts.

Warming temperatures, rising seas, ocean acidification, changes to regional weather patterns—nearly every consequence of climate change threatens the world’s 8.7 million species in some way. About half of flora and fauna are already on the move in search of cooler climes. Even keeping global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius—the target for international climate treaty talks—will force many species to the brink of extinction, threatening food supplies, human health, economies and communities. Here is a rundown of just how big an impact climate change could have on the natural world.

Click to enlarge infographic.

Credit: inside climate news

Reinsurers call for action at climate change summit

Politicians must act to cap global warming when they meet at a United Nations summit at the end of the year as the financial and humanitarian consequences of natural catastrophes become ever clearer, reinsurers meeting at an industry conference said.

The $600 billion reinsurance industry helps insurance companies pay damage claims from hurricanes, floods or earthquakes and can help people and companies get back on their feet after a disaster.

The UN’s climate boss warned this week that national promises to cut emissions so far would cap warming at an unacceptably high level, heightening concerns in the insurance industry about politicians’ lack of resolve.

“Definitely we expect political courage to move in a direction that shows responsibility towards future generations and a certain interest in defending the sustainability of this planet,” Swiss Re’s Chief Executive, Michel Lies, told a news conference.

Swiss Re data shows natural disasters caused an average $180 billion in economic damage per year over the last decade, of which 70 percent was uninsured.

Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s said big natural catastrophes can also lead to cuts in sovereign credit ratings — making it more expensive for governments to borrow money — with Latin America and the Caribbean most at risk.

These conclusions should help concentrate minds at the climate talks starting in Paris on Nov. 30, reinsurers said.

“What we can bring to the table is a credible price tag for the decisions that are taken or not taken, making sure everybody understands that in the short term you may not take a decision but you will definitely pay a price in the long term,” Lies said.

Weather researchers say global warming will result in more frequent and intense heatwaves, precipitation and storms. Warming needs to be limited to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels to avoid the most devastating consequences in the form of droughts and rising sea levels, scientists say.

“Even if this goal is not fully reached, every step in this direction is better than no result at all,” said Peter Hoeppe, head of Geo Risks Research at reinsurer Munich Re.

In the meantime, there must be increasing focus on preventive measures such as flood defences that can help dampen the rise in insurance premiums in the medium to long term, Hoeppe said.

Insurers and Group of Seven industrialized countries are working to expand the availability of insurance to an additional 400 million people in developing countries considered at high risk.

“Climate change is happening, no question,” said XL Group’s Chief Executive, Mike McGavick.

“Insurers and reinsurers have to be at the forefront of transferring that risk,” McGavick said.

Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch

What’s Really Warming the World? New Study

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

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

Credit: Bloomberg Business

Antigua Faces Climate Risks with Ambitious Renewables Target

Ruth Spencer is a pioneer in the field of solar energy. She promotes renewable technologies to communities throughout her homeland of Antigua and Barbuda, playing a small but important part in helping the country achieve its goal of a 20-percent reduction in the use of fossil fuels by 2020.

She also believes that small non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have a crucial role to play in the bigger projects aimed at tackling the problems caused by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas.

Spencer, who serves as National Focal Point for the Global Environment Facility (GEF)-Small Grants Programme (SGP) in Antigua and Barbuda, has been at the forefront of an initiative to bring representatives of civil society, business owners and NGOs together to educate them about the dangers posed by climate change.

“The GEF/SGP is going to be the delivery mechanism to get to the communities, preparing them well in advance for what is to come,” she told IPS.

The GEF Small Grants Programme in the Eastern Caribbean is administered by the United Nations office in Barbados.

“Since climate change is heavily impacting the twin islands of Antigua and Barbuda, it is important that we bring all the stakeholders together,” said Spencer, a Yale development economist who also coordinates the East Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network funded by the German government.

“The coastal developments are very much at risk and we wanted to share the findings of the IPCC report with them to let them see for themselves what all these scientists are saying,” Spencer told IPS.

“We are in a small island so we have to build synergies, we have to network, we have to partner to assist each other. By providing the information, they can be aware and we are going to continue doing follow up….so together we can tackle the problem in a holistic manner,” she added.

Power lines in Antigua. The Caribbean country is taking steps to achieve energy security through clean technologies. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Power lines in Antigua. The Caribbean country is taking steps to achieve energy security through clean technologies. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has sent governments a final draft of its synthesis report, which paints a harsh picture of what is causing global warming and what it will do to humans and the environment. It also describes what can be done about it.

Ruleta Camacho, project coordinator for the sustainable island resource management mechanism within Antigua and Barbuda’s Ministry of the Environment, told IPS there is documented observation of sea level rise which has resulted in coastal erosion and infrastructure destruction on the coastline.

She said there is also evidence of ocean acidification and coral bleaching, an increase in the prevalence of extreme weather events – extreme drought conditions and extreme rainfall events – all of which affect the country’s vital tourism industry.

“The drought and the rainfall events have impacts on the tourism sector because it impacts the ancillary services – the drought affects your productivity of local food products as well as your supply of water to the hotel industry,” she said.

“And then you have the rainfall events impacting the flooding so you have days where you cannot access certain sites and you have flood conditions which affect not only the hotels in terms of the guests but it also affects the staff that work at the hotels. If we get a direct hit from a storm we have significant instant dropoff in the productivity levels in the hotel sector.”

Antigua and Barbuda, which is known for its sandy beaches and luxurious resorts, draws nearly one million visitors each year. Tourism accounts for 60 to 75 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, and employs nearly 90 percent of the population.

Like Camacho, Ediniz Norde, an environment officer, believes sea level rise is likely to worsen existing environmental stresses such as a scarcity of freshwater for drinking and other uses.

“Many years ago in St. John’s we had seawater intrusion all the way up to Tanner Street. It cut the street in half. It used to be a whole street and now there is a big gutter running through it, a ship was lodged in Tanner Street,” she recalled.

“Now it only shows if we have these levels of sea water rising that this is going to be a reality here in Antigua and Barbuda,” Norde told IPS. “This is how far the water can get and this is how much of our environment, of our earth space that we can lose in St. John’s. It’s a reality that we won’t be able to shy away from if we don’t act now.”

As the earth’s climate continues to warm, rainfall in Antigua and Barbuda is projected to decrease, and winds and rainfall associated with episodic hurricanes are projected to become more intense. Scientists say these changes would likely amplify the impact of sea level rise on the islands.

But Camacho said climate change presents opportunities for Antigua and Barbuda and the country must do its part to implement mitigation measures.

She explained that early moves towards mitigation and building renewable energy infrastructure can bring long-term economic benefits.

“If we retrain our population early enough in terms of our technical expertise and getting into the renewable market, we can actually lead the way in the Caribbean and we can offer services to other Caribbean countries and that’s a positive economic step,” she said.

“Additionally, the quicker we get into the renewable market, the lower our energy cost will be and if we can get our energy costs down, it opens us for economic productivity in other sectors, not just tourism.

“If we can get our electricity costs down we can have financial resources that would have gone toward your electricity bills freed up for improvement of the [tourism] industry and you can have a better product being offered,” she added.

Credit: IPS

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.

5Cs Unveils Comprehensive 1.5˚C Stay Alive Climate Change Curriculum

1.5 to Stay Alive

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre‘s 1.5 Stay Alive curriculum and associated resources is now available.

Download your copy of the 1.5 Stay Alive Education Initiative.

Cognizant of the threat Climate Change poses to the region’s survival and continued development, the Centre launched the 1.5 ˚C Stay Alive campaign ahead of COP15 in December 2009. The two tiered campaign sought to sensitize citizens across the Caribbean Community about the impact of Climate Change on livelihoods in the region, and make a convincing case at the global level for the reduction of GHG emissions to a level not exceeding 350 ppm (parts per million) as an effective means of stabilising global warming.

Intended Audience

The Centre has since broadened its effort through the crafting of curricular resources designed for Caribbean children ages 12 to 16. These resources, crafted by educators in collaboration with the Centre’s technical team, forms part of the Centre’s thrust to embed Climate Change in the region’s education sector beginning in Belize. 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.

The 1.5 Stay Alive Curriculum Units

The teaching and learning activities can be modified to suit local situations and the ages of the students. A variety of extended activities have been included, which should be viewed as suggestions and so other activities can be substituted. The intent is an attempt to teach complex concepts with uncommon terminologies to young people. If they are to appreciate what is being taught, the terminologies must be clear to them. It is imperative that today’s youths are made aware of what the impacts of Climate Change and Global Warming could be, and so that knowledge would assist in making them appreciate the ramifications.

The students need to know who will be vulnerable and in what ways. Armed with the necessary information, it is hoped that awareness will be developed and spur changes in habits, practices, and values. Such would contribute to understanding mitigation and adaptation measures suggested.

The resource comprises teaching and learning activities and a range of supporting materials including worksheets, photographs, posters, suggestions for power point presentations, videos and field trips. Most importantly there is much resource information for the teachers who need to understand the concepts they are expected to teach. The prepared, well informed, confident teacher will always succeed in teaching effectively and as a result, students will learn.

In the references listed, there are numerous websites and books. Comprehensive glossaries are included. Word search and crossword puzzle are suggested assignments which should assist the students in comprehending the vocabulary used throughout. There are also a few appropriate poems and songs which can be used to encourage self-expression and facilitate student involvement.

The cross-curricular approach used in most lesson plans is in accordance with accepted philosophies and principles of education. While students learn in groups, they will be encouraged to investigate, observe, question, predict, test, collect, record, analyze data, draw conclusions, and think critically.

Download your copy of the 1.5 Stay Alive Education Initiative.

New CARICOM chairman to place emphasis on climate change

PM Gonsalves flanked by PM Spencer at a high level meeting discussing the devasation in St. Vincent (CMC Photo)

PM Gonsalves flanked by PM Spencer at a high level meeting discussing the devasation in St. Vincent (CMC Photo)

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said Monday he would use his six month term as chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping to deal with the deleterious effects climate change is having on the socio-economic future of the 15-member bloc.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia and Dominica are now emerging from the effects of a weather system that left a trail of death and destruction over the Christmas holidays.

Caribbean countries have also had to deal with the annual hurricane season and in many cases, like in Haiti, unseasonal rains that cause widespread devastation.

“The big issue…is global warming, climate change. We are having systems affecting us outside of the normal rainy season and the normal hurricane season,” he said making reference to the floods in April last year and the Christmas Eve rains that resulted in the deaths of nine people and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages here.

“There are lots of monies which countries talk about for adaptation and mitigation to climate change. But I haven’t seen the money yet and we have to use our diplomacy as a region and we have to be aggressive with our climate change center in Belize.

“In my term as chairman of CARICOM this is one of the issues which you will recall I said earlier on…I want dealt with during my term in a continued serious and structured way, (and it) has to deal with the deleterious effect of climate change and to get the requisite responses from the international community in relation to this matter”.

Gonsalves told a news conference that the region does not contribute “anything to these man made weather systems, these problems with putting so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“We are …on the front line,” he said, adding that “this is an issue which is big”.

Gonsalves said that efforts were now underway to stage an international donors’ conference to help the three affected islands recover and rebuild their battered infrastructures.

He said he had already received a letter from Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, who is also chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), outlining plans for an international donors’ conference.

“There is a letter which Baldwin sent to me which I have reviewed and make one or two slight alterations and suggestions, but we have to prepare for a donors’ conference well, maybe in March may be in February… but we have to prepare for it well so that we can get the donors to make pledges,” he said, recalling a similar conference had taken place to help Grenada after it was battered by a recent hurricane.

“I know some of the donors came through and others did not, but at least we need to do that to lift the profile,” Gonsalves said.

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister told reporters that an insurance scheme organized through the World Bank, to which all the Caribbean countries contribute, does not go far enough.

“To the extent that the monies you get from the Catastrophic Relief Insurance System is fairly minimal, but of course every little bit helps,” he said.

Gonsalves said he had already written to the leaders of several countries and was now  waiting to see “what kind of grant assistance we can get because we really need grants preferably.

“The World Bank will give soft loan monies, the CDB (Caribbean Development Bank) will give soft loan monies, the European Union will give grants, Venezuela will give grants, (and) Taiwan will give grants”.

CMC/kc/ir/2014

Credit: CMC

New FAO guidance on how agricultural development planning can help tackle climate change

Credit: CCCCC

Credit: CCCCC

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).

Also see We’re working to improve agriculture amids a changing and variable climate

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.

Source: FAO

Also see We’re working to improve agriculture amids a changing and variable climate
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