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Belize to Make its Energy Sector More Climate Resilient

 

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photo credit: Jose Sanchez

Belize will strengthen the climate resilience of its energy sector as a result of a US$8 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) approved today by the World Bank Board of Directors.

“A major concern we often grapple with is extreme weather,” said Frank Mena, Belize’s Minister of State for Finance, Public Service, Energy & Public Utilities. “The impact of such events often leads to major set-backs to our development progress,” he added.

Belize is often in the direct path of tropical storms and hurricanes, which are expected to intensify due to climate change. This has caused many human casualties and widespread damages, resulting in costly disruptions of vital public services. The impact of Hurricane Dean in 2007 resulted in US$80-100 million in damages, equivalent to 6-8 percent of GDP, and a near countrywide power blackout. Likewise, Hurricane Earl left another wave of disruptions last month.

“Building climate resilience is a key priority for Belize. This project aims to support the government’s continued efforts to make energy and power systems better prepared and more resilient to storms, hurricanes and natural hazards,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.

Among the concrete results to be achieved by the Energy Resilience for Climate Adaptation Project in Belize are:

  • Improved capacity for long-term energy planning, taking into account the impact of climate change;
  • Better monitoring of weather and localized impacts of climate change through the installation of meteorological and hydro-meteorological stations across the country;
  • Enhanced electricity supply security despite weather events, by strengthening the transmission network and reducing the likelihood of service disruptions;
  • Improved preparedness through the design and implementation of an Emergency Response and Recovery Plan for the power sector;
  • Revitalized communication network of the power company, ensuring better command and control coordination during response and recovery operations.

This four year project is financed by a US$8 million grant from the Global Environment Facility’s Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and US$3.9 million counterpart financing from the Government of Belize and the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) company.

Credit: World Bank

Japan and UNDP launch climate change project in eight Caribbean countries

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Members of the J-CCCP Project Board following the project launch

The government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the US$15 million Japan-Caribbean climate change partnership (J-CCCP) on Thursday, in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The launch follows a two-day meeting with more than 40 representatives from eight Caribbean countries, including government officials, technical advisors, NGO and UN partners to set out a roadmap to mitigate and adapt to climate change, in line with countries’ long-term strategies.

The new initiative will help put in practice Caribbean countries’ actions and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change, such as nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) and national adaptation plans (NAPs). 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.

“The government of Japan is pleased to partner with UNDP. It is envisaged that the project will also contribute to building a platform for information sharing in developing and implementing climate change policies and promoting the transfer of adaptation and mitigation technologies. Japan expects, through pilot projects and information sharing, the project will enable the Caribbean countries to enhance their capacity to cope with climate change and natural disasters,” said Masatoshi Sato, minister-counsellor and deputy head of mission at the embassy of Japan in Trinidad and Tobago, stressing that the partnership will also promote South-South and North-South cooperation, including study tours to Japan for government officials and technical advisors.

Participating countries include Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname, benefitting an estimated 200,000 women and men in 50 communities.

“This partnership comes at a critical time in our nation’s sustainable development programme,” said Gloria Joseph, permanent secretary in the ministry of planning, economic development and investment in Dominica. “Dominica has experienced firsthand the devastating and crippling effect that climate change can have on a nation’s people, their livelihoods and economy, risking losing up to 90 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to a tropical storm or hurricane. Dominica stands ready and welcomes the opportunity to benefit from early response warning systems, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction measures as it seeks to restore and ‘build back better’.”

Climate change is recognised 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. Boosting resilience is crucial for the region’s development and is a clear part of UNDP’s global strategic plan of programme priorities.

Negative impacts on land, water resources and biodiversity associated with climate change have also been predicted with the potential to affect shoreline stability, the health of coastal and marine ecosystems and private property, as well as ecosystem services. Increasing coastal erosion and severe coral reef bleaching events are already evident in some locations.

“UNDP has been championing the cause of climate change in the Caribbean for many years and we are pleased to partner with the Government of Japan toward the implementation of climate change projects in eight Caribbean countries,” said Rebeca Arias, regional hub director for UNDP’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. “In light of the COP21 agreement, these projects are timely in assisting countries to respond more effectively to the impacts of climate change and to increase their resilience through actions today to make them stronger for tomorrow.”

Credit: Caribbean News Now

Tackling climate change in the Caribbean

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Sanchez, Petite Martinique. Climate-Proofing the tiny island of Petite Martinique includes a sea revetment 140 metres long to protect critical coastal infrastructure from erosion. (Photo: TECLA  FONTENAD/IPS)

The world is still celebrating the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the main outcome of the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Its ambitions are unprecedented: not only has the world committed to limit the increase of temperature to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels,” it has also agreed to pursue efforts to “limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.”

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

US Embassy – Bridgetown installs largest wind turbine in Barbados

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PRESS RELEASE – The largest single wind turbine in Barbados has been installed at the U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

The 20 kilowatt turbine, which is also the largest operating at any U.S. embassy in the world, underscores Embassy Bridgetown’s commitment to clean, renewable energy development throughout the region.

Since the 70-foot-high turbine was installed in Wildey, St. Michael, on December 16, it has produced approximately 63 kilowatt hours of energy daily. On an annual basis, it is expected to produce 56 megawatt hours. The turbine is built to withstand a Category 2 hurricane, and is designed to shut off and turn 90 degrees into the wind when wind speeds reach 59 mph. It is also incredibly quiet, producing only 50 decibels of sound even at its maximum speed of 100 rpm. Construction of the turbine took 72 days.

“Putting up this wind turbine has been an Embassy goal for several years and I’m delighted it has come to fruition,” said Larry Palmer, U.S. Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. “This shows we ‘walk the walk’ as well as we ‘talk the talk’ when it comes to being serious about mitigating climate change and promoting renewable energy.”

The new wind turbine is Embassy Bridgetown’s latest project to further its goals of mitigating the impact of climate change and promoting clean energy through adaptation initiatives and energy partnerships. Other recent projects include adding all-electric vehicles to the Embassy motor pool fleet and replacing chancery lighting with energy-efficient LED lighting.

“These green initiatives can make a real difference to our planet over time,” said Ambassador Palmer. “We intend to lead by example and encourage others to look at similar ways they can secure a cleaner energy future for us all.”

Credit: St. Lucia News Online

The UK to launch Caribbean infrastructure partnership

Source: livemint

Source: livemint

 The English speaking Caribbean is set to benefit from 300 million pounds in grant funding to support infrastructure development.

British Prime Minister David Cameron made the announcement in a joint sitting of Jamaica’s parliament on September 30, 2015.

“I’m launching a new UK, Caribbean infrastructure partnership to build real tangible things that will make a difference for people across the Caribbean. Roads, bridges, ports, critical economic infrastructure that will set the foundations for growth and prosperity and in turn reduce poverty while helping the region to become more resilient to the risks of Climate Change. Just think about what this could deliver, hundreds of kilometer of roads to link up vital markets. Bridges to unite remote communities. New energy projects to power growth and vital defenses to protect coastal communities. Let me be clear £300 million is not soft loads, not tide aid. It is cash grants.”

Cameron says Caribbean leaders will decide how to spend the funds. He also announced an additional 60 million pounds in financing.

“Today I can also announce 30 million pounds for new programs to help attract investments and improve governance and 30 million pounds to help make your hospital more resilient to natural disasters. We need to make sure that if a hurricane strikes, crucial health centers can remain operational to treat the wounded and together this represents a quadrupling of Britain support. It will make us the largest donor to the region. It will create jobs and save lives and you can take it literally as a concrete statement of my commitment to the Caribbean.”

The British Prime Minister adds he hopes the Caribbean will make use of US 9 billion in climate adaptation financing that the UK will provide over the next five years.

“We hope this money can help unlock the global climate deal and giving the vulnerability of small island state that face the risk of devastation from climate change, a fair proportion should be sent, I hope will be spent right here supporting some of the UK’s oldest friends to prepare and provide for the future. When I met Caribbean leaders just a few days ago at the United Nations General Assembly. They made it clear to me directly, just how vital the climate deal is to them. So I pledge to work in partnership with them and other like minded states to secure a bold and ambitious deal in Paris later this year.”

Cameron also revealed that the UK will spend £25 million on building a prison in Jamaica so that foreign criminals in the UK can be sent home to serve sentences in the Caribbean.

More than 600 Jamaican nationals are in UK jails but cannot be deported because of Jamaica’s poor prison conditions.

Officials say the foreign aid-funded deal could save taxpayers £10m a year when transfers begin in 2020.

Credit: The Daily Observer

5 Things to Know About Climate Change in the Caribbean!

Natural events and human activities contribute to an increase in average temperatures around the world. Increases in greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the main cause. Our planet and our region are warming. This leads to a change in climate.

  1. The Caribbean is a minute contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, but will be among the most severely impacted.
  2. We are already experiencing its impacts. More frequent extreme weather events, such as the 2013 rain event in the Eastern Caribbean; the extreme droughts being experienced across the region, with severe consequences in places like Jamaica; the 2005 flooding in Guyana and Belize in 2010. And further Climate Change is inevitable in the coming decades.
  3. Inaction is VERY costly! An economic analysis focused on just three areas - increased hurricane damages, loss of tourism revenue and infrastructure damages - could cost the region US$10.7 billion by 2025. That is more than the combined GDP of OECS Member States.
  4. These risks can be managed by taking 'no regrets' actions - development actions we must take in any event. So we must build our infrastructure to withstand more intense weather events, select crops that can withstand extreme conditions and climate-influenced opportunistic pests, and transform our planning frameworks to improve our resilience.
  5. Climate Change is a fossil-energy related problem. Fossil fuel consumption is a major driver of Climate Change. It also costs the Region US$37 Billion of its foreign exchange earnings and further reduces the potential for economic growth. Employing renewable forms of energy will allow us to tackle two big problems: climate change and economic competitiveness.

Download the 5 Things to Know About Climate Change in the Caribbean brochure.

Caribbean Governments now insured against excess rainfall

The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) is pleased to announce that eight of its members have become the first countries to purchase its excess rainfall insurance coverage – for the 2014/2015 policy year.

Developed by CCRIF and global reinsurer, Swiss Re, the excess rainfall product is aimed primarily at extreme high rainfall events of short duration (a few hours to a few days), whether they happen during a tropical cyclone (hurricane) or not. Like CCRIF’s tropical cyclone and earthquake insurance, the excess rainfall product is parametric and estimates the impacts of heavy rain using satellite rainfall data from the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) and exposure from CCRIF’s risk estimation database. Because the excess rainfall product is parametric, a payout can be made quickly (within 14 days) after a rain event that triggers a country’s policy, without waiting for time-consuming damage and loss assessments on the ground.

CCRIF CEO, Mr. Isaac Anthony, stated that “The new excess rainfall product has been eagerly awaited by Caribbean governments as we all realize that considerable damage in the region is caused by rainfall and flooding. This product complements CCRIF’s hurricane coverage which determines losses based on wind and storm surge. We commend our eight members for taking the initiative and purchasing this ground-breaking product and hope that other countries in the region will follow.”

In expressing Swiss Re’s support, Mr. Martyn Parker, Chairman, Global Partnerships stressed, “Securing excess rainfall insurance protection demonstrates that Caribbean countries are taking a proactive approach to manage the contingent risks posed by climate change. Swiss Re is proud to support them in their efforts to ensure fiscal stability after a disaster.”

These countries will now be able to respond better  to an event such as the trough that brought heavy rains to the Eastern Caribbean in December last year, which resulted in loss of life, extensive damage to infrastructure and wide-spread economic disruption. The excess rainfall product is independent of the tropical cyclone product and if both policies are triggered by an event then both payouts are due.

Taking into consideration the fiscal challenges that many of our members face and their increasing levels of vulnerability, CCRIF continues to work towards reducing the overall premium cost to members. To this end, for the 2014-2015 policy year, CCRIF offered two one-off premium discount options due to a third successive year in which none of the policies held by member countries were triggered by an event. The two discount options were: a 25% discount on tropical cyclone and earthquake policy premium if no excess rainfall policy is purchased; and up to a 50% discount if applied to an excess rainfall policy.

Also, as done previously, for 2014/2015 policies, CCRIF allowed 50% of the total premium to be held as paid-in Participation Fee (the one-time fee paid when a country joins the Facility), with the excess therefore being available to co-fund premium, providing an opportunity to further reduce current expenditure on policy premiums. Additionally, countries which have not already done so can exercise the option to reduce their attachment point to a 10-year return period for tropical cyclones. This would result in coverage being secured for events that occur more frequently than was previously available.

As the main part of the Atlantic Hurricane Season approaches, CCRIF remains committed to supporting its members in their disaster risk management initiatives and their progress towards climate resiliency.

Note: TRMM is a research initiative undertaken by the US National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

About CCRIF: CCRIF is a not-for-profit risk pooling facility, owned, operated and registered in the Caribbean for Caribbean governments. It is designed to limit the financial impact of catastrophic hurricanes and earthquakes to Caribbean governments by quickly providing short-term liquidity when a parametric insurance policy is triggered. It is the world’s first regional fund utilising parametric insurance, giving Caribbean governments the unique opportunity to purchase earthquake and hurricane catastrophe coverage withlowest-possible pricing. CCRIF was developed under the technical leadership of the World Bank and with a grant from the Government of Japan. It was capitalised through contributions to a multi-donor Trust Fund by the Government of Canada, the European Union, the World Bank, the governments of the UK and France, the Caribbean Development Bank and the governments of Ireland and Bermuda, as well as through membership fees paid by participating governments. Since the inception of CCRIF in 2007, the Facility has made eight payouts totalling US$32,179,470 to seven member governments. All payouts were transferred to the respective governments within two weeks after each event.
For more information about CCRIF, please visit the CCRIF website at www.ccrif.org or send an email to pr@ccrif.org.
 
Credit: The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facilty
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