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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, 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.”
“With the IPCC Report, does it change the way you are going to go into COP24?”
“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
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
The Commonwealth is bringing together global experts to thrash out new ideas for not just reducing climate change but actually reversing its effects by mimicking success stories in nature.
At a two-day gathering on Friday and Saturday at the 52-country organisation’s headquarters in London, a diverse band of experts in fields such as biomimicry, carbon sequestration, design and regeneration traded ideas for practical schemes that could pull carbon out of the air and put it back into the Earth.
Rather than a series of presentations, the conference instead saw experts from around the world huddle in groups to brainstorm.
“Some of our island states in the Pacific and the Caribbean will be hit first and potentially disappear, therefore climate change has been an issue of real importance to the Commonwealth,” Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland told AFP.
– Termite mound buildings –
Examples were shared of concrete absorbing carbon, ecologically destroyed landscapes flourishing again through getting carbon back into the soil, and getting more productive agriculture through mimicking the ecosystems of wild, untended land.
There were discussions on buildings designed like termite mounds that ventilate themselves with cool air, or making ships’ hulls like shark skin.
Also mooted were vertical axis wind turbines arranged in school-of-fish formation so the ones behind gain momentum from the vortices, creating far more wind power than regular wind farms.
“It’s stunning, but this is not inventing anything new. Life’s been at it for 3.8 billion years,” biomimicry expert Janine Benyus told AFP.
“We’re talking about bringing carbon home — rebalancing the problem of too much carbon in the air and not enough in the soil,” she added, stepping out of a workshop.
With its diverse membership covering a quarter of the world’s countries, action within the Commonwealth often paves the way for wider global agreements.
The climate change accords reached at its biennial summit in Malta last December were instrumental in the Paris COP21 UN climate conference deal struck later that month, which agreed to cap global warming at less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
– ‘Practical, practical, practical’ –
Scotland will take forward ideas and outcomes from the London workshop to the COP22 summit in Marrakesh in November.
“We’re setting off the starter pistol for this race,” the secretary-general said.
“The Commonwealth is seeking to be the platform through which ideas can be transferred.
However, in the arena of climate change, many intriguing proposals get ditched on the grounds of cost, practicality or fears that they could end up inflicting environmental damage.
“We’re looking at how we can share real solutions and help each other to get there faster,” said Scotland.
“We’re saying ‘practical, practical, practical’. If it works, it’s affordable, implementable and makes the difference, then we need people to understand they can believe in it.”
Some sessions focused on so-called big picture ideas, looking at Earth as a complete system.
Delegates discussed how carbon can be used as a resource, in which returning it to the ground can bring about lasting soil fertility and jobs and thereby political stability.
“Life creates conditions conducive to life. It’s about creating new virtuous circles rather than vicious ones,” said Daniel Wahl, who designs regenerative cultures.
“If we do a good job, we can find the funding because the will is there,” he told AFP.
“The time of ‘them and us’ thinking is past. The people who were against each other now have to come together.
“People are dying today from the effects of climate change. To them, it’s not an intellectual debate any more.”
Credit: Daily Mail Online
This achievement should be celebrated, especially by Small Island Development States (SIDS), a 41-nation group—nearly half of them in the Caribbean—that has been advocating for increased ambition on climate change for nearly a quarter century.
SIDS are even more vulnerable to climate change impacts — and risk losing more. Global warming has very high associated damages and costs to families, communities and entire countries, including their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
What does this mean for the Caribbean? Climate change is recognized as one of the most serious challenges to the Caribbean. With the likelihood that climate change will exacerbate the frequency and intensity of the yearly hurricane season, comprehensive measures are needed to protect at-risk communities.
Moreover, scenarios based on moderate curbing of greenhouse gas emissions reveal that surface temperature would increase between 1.2 and 2.3 °C across the Caribbean in this century. In turn, rainfall is expected to decrease about 5 to 6 per cent. As a result, it will be the only insular region in the world to experience a decrease in water availability in the future.
The combined impact of higher temperatures and less water would likely result in longer dry periods and increased frequency of droughts, which threaten agriculture, livelihoods, sanitation and ecosystems.
Perhaps the most dangerous hazard is sea level rise. The sea level may rise up to 0.6 meters in the Caribbean by the end of the century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This could actually flood low-lying areas, posing huge threats, particularly to the smallest islands, and impacting human settlements and infrastructure in coastal zones. It also poses serious threats to tourism, a crucial sector for Caribbean economies: up to 60 per cent of current resorts lie around the coast and these would be greatly damaged by sea level increase.
Sea level rise also risks saline water penetrating into freshwater aquifers, threatening crucial water resources for agriculture, tourism and human consumption, unless expensive treatments operations are put into place.
In light of these prospects, adapting to climate change becomes an urgent necessity for SIDS—including in the Caribbean. It is therefore not surprising that all Caribbean countries have submitted a section on adaptation within their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which are the voluntary commitments that pave the way for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
In their INDCs, Caribbean countries overwhelmingly highlight the conservation of water resources and the protection of coastal areas as their main worries. Most of them also consider adaptation initiatives in the economic and productive sectors, mainly agriculture, fisheries, tourism and forestry.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been supporting Caribbean countries in their adaptation efforts for many years now, through environmental, energy-related and risk reduction projects, among others.
This week we launched a new partnership with the Government of Japan, the US$15 million Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP), in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The initiative will be implemented in eight Caribbean countries: Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, benefitting an estimated 200,000 women and men in 50 communities.
It will set out a roadmap to mitigate and adapt to climate change, in line with countries’ long-term strategies, helping put in practice Caribbean countries’ actions and policies to reduce greenhouse as emissions and adapt to climate change. It will also boost access to sustainable energy and help reduce fossil fuel imports and dependence, setting the region on a low-emission development path, while addressing critical balance of payments constraints.
When considering adaptation measures to the different impacts of climate change there are multiple options. Some rely on infrastructure, such as dikes to control sea level rise, but this can be particularly expensive for SIDS, where the ratio of coastal area to land mass is very high.
In this context, ecosystem-based adaptation activities are much more cost-effective, and, in countries with diverse developmental priorities and where financial resources are limited, they become an attractive alternative. This means healthy, well-functioning ecosystems to boost natural resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change, reducing people’s vulnerabilities as well.
UNDP, in partnership with national and local governments in the Caribbean, has been championing ecosystem-based adaptation and risk reduction with very rewarding results.
For example, the Government of Cuba partnered with UNDP, scientific institutes and forestry enterprises to restore mangrove forests along 84 km of the country’s southern shore to slow down saline intrusion from the sea level rise and reduce disaster risks, as the mangrove acts as a protective barrier against hurricanes.
In Grenada, in coordination with the Government and the German International Cooperation Agency, we supported the establishment of a Community Climate Change Adaptation Fund, a small grants mechanism, to provide opportunities to communities to cope with the effects of climate change and extreme weather conditions. We have engaged with local stakeholders to develop climate smart agricultural projects, and climate resilient fisheries, among other activities in the tourism and water resources sectors.
UNDP’s support is directed to balance social and economic development with environmental protection, directly benefitting communities. Our approach is necessarily aligned with the recently approved 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its associated Sustainable Development Goals, delivering on protecting ecosystems and natural resources, promoting food security and sanitation, while also helping reduce poverty and promoting sustainable economic growth.
While there is significant potential for climate change adaptation in SIDS, it will require additional external resources, technologies and strengthening of local capacities. In UNDP we are ideally placed to continue working hand-in-hand with Caribbean countries as they implement their INDCs and find their own solutions to climate-change adaptation, while also sharing knowledge and experiences within the region and beyond.
Jessica Faieta is United Nations Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Credit: Caribbean 360
“CARICOM’s interests were strongly represented in a focused and coordinated manner by heads of government, ministers, the CARICOM secretary-general (Irwin LaRocque)and his staff, and a team of experienced and skilled negotiators led by Dr the Honourable James Fletcher. We are satisfied that our strong advocacy helped to ensure that the [final] agreement reflected the region’s position on our major red-line issues,” Stuart, who is also prime minister of Barbados, said in a release issued by the CARICOM Secretariat through Panos Caribbean.
“The region’s successful campaign, built around the slogan ‘1.5 to Stay Alive’, received energetic support from several groups and organisations, including youth and cultural artistes, whose efforts must be applauded,” added Stuart.
The campaign kicked off in October with a launch event held in St Lucia. At the same time, a website, Facebook page, and Twitter account were established to promote Caribbean negotiating positions and to expose the region’s climate challenges.
Later, a theme song – the collaborative effort of a number of regional acts – was released.
Several other activities, including a Selfie Video Challenge and a flash mob, were also implemented to get Caribbean people in the know and behind the campaign effort.
At the talks, the region, for the first time, had a pavilion – called the Wider Caribbean Pavilion – that afforded the space for strategy meetings by regional negotiators and networking among players.
Caribbean artistes Aaron Silk of Jamaica and Adrian ‘The Doc’ Martinez of Belize were also on hand to spread, through music, the ‘1.5 To Stay Alive’ message, and were big hits with participants.
In the end, Stuart said it all paid off.
“We believe that the actions and investment approved in the agreement will bring us closer to the goal of maintaining global average temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius and along a clear trajectory downwards towards 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels,” he said.
“That agreement will also help to realise the goals of lower greenhouse gas emissions, greater resilience, and sustainable development, especially among the small-island and low-lying coastal developing states (SIDS), with the most vulnerable populations such as the countries of the Caribbean. We determinedly and successfully promoted recognition of the special circumstances and vulnerabilities of SIDS, which are among the lowest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, but are the most threatened by climate change,” Stuart added.
One Jamaican actor involved in the negotiations agreed that the Caribbean could feel satisfied with the result.
“The CARICOM region can be satisfied with the outcome, which retains the recognition under the (United Nations Framework) Convention (on Climate Change), of the fact that SIDS have specific needs and face special circumstances which render our territories particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. We have also secured a decision for equal funding for adaptation and mitigation,” noted Colonel Oral Khan, a member of the Jamaica delegation to Paris and chief technical director in the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change.
“This is very significant for us as the science is telling us that the concentration of greenhouse gases is already at a level that can be catastrophic. We, therefore, cannot await the benefits from current mitigation efforts, which will be realised over the next half a century. There are things we must do now to protect vital sectors of our economy and the lives of our people,” he added.
What remains is to have these things actioned.
“The international community must now retain the energising and uplifting spirit of Paris in the process going forward. The world expects no less,” Stuart said.
Credit: Jamaica Gleaner
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) is recruiting a National Coordinator/Consultant (NC) for the Energy for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean Buildings Project (“ESD”). The overarching goal is to develop and implement measures for promoting sustainable energy development within the buildings sector and to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and make the energy sector more efficient and increase the use of renewable energy in five (5) pilot countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
Peruse the advertisement for the ESD Project Consultant here.
Qualified candidates should send an email expressing interest in the position (in less than 250 words), work references and a CV to EDSapplication@caribbeanclimate.bz.
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
Climate, Economy, Finance- Everything you need to know about the IPCC 5th Assessment Report- Mitigation of Climate Change
On April 15th the third and final volume of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report on Climate Change was presented. The report is the most comprehensive survey of scientific knowledge about climate change, updated after the 2007 edition. Working Group 3 of the Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change focuses on actions and policies for mitigating climate change, that is on the possibility of reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The report makes clear why climate change cannot be dealt with solely from an environmental point of view, given its powerful financial and economic repercussions, on both the global and domestic levels. While the continuous rise in global emissions furthers us from the aim of maintaining temperature increase below 2° C at the end of the century, science is seeking ways to control climate change that also take into account economic efficiency and equity, for example through market instruments that reduce emissions wherever this is a less expensive option.
The video “All you need to know about the IPCC 5th Assessment Report – Mitigation of Climate Change“ explores the contents of the Report narrated by the Italian authors:
- Carlo Carraro – ICCG Director, Vice-Chair of the Working Group 3 and Member of the Bureau of the IPCC
- Alessandro Lanza – CMCC / IPCC WG3 Lead Author
- Massimo Tavoni – CMCC / FEEM / IPCC WG3 Lead Author
The video was produced jointly by the International Center for Climate Governance (ICCG), the Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change (CMCC) and the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM). Created by Jacopo Crimi and Mauro Buonocore, with illustrations by Neva.
About the SIDS Sustainable Energy and Climate Resilient Initiative – SIDS DOCK
SIDS DOCK Institutional Mechanism
SIDS DOCK is a SIDS–SIDS institutional mechanism established in 2009 to facilitate the development of a sustainable energy economy within the small island developing states. SIDS DOCK serves 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 US carbon markets.
SIDS DOCK Goals
The goals of SIDS DOCK are to mobilize in excess of USD 10-20 Billion, by 2033, 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.
SIDS DOCK Mission
SIDS DOCK Mission is to catalyze the transformation of the energy sector of SIDS to increase energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and generate resources for investment in adaptation to climate. 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 Functions
SIDS DOCK has four principal functions:
A mechanism to help SIDS develop low carbon economies that generate the financial resources to invest in climate change adaptation
Assist SIDS transition to a sustainable energy sector, by increasing energy efficiency and conservation, and development of renewable energy;
Providing a vehicle for mobilizing financial and technical resources to catalyse clean economic growth;
Provide SIDS with a mechanism for connecting with the global carbon market (“DOCKing”) and taking advantage of the resource transfer possibilities that will be afforded.
SIDS DOCK Funding
In December 2010, in Cancun, Mexico, SIDS DOCK received a one-year grant of USD14.5 million in start-up contributions from the Government of Denmark, followed a grant of USD 15 million over two years (2012-2014) from the Government of Japan in December 2011, in Durban, South Africa.