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Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Brief Highlights Climate Change Impacts on Fisheries and Aquaculture

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The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) has issued a brief,’Climate Change: Implications for Fisheries and Aquaculture,’ which details the threats of climate change and ocean acidification to fisheries, aquaculture and marine resources as relayed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

The brief highlights that climate change and ocean acidification are altering ocean ecosystems, leading to a loss of marine biodiversity and changes in seafood production levels, including through the displacement of stocks and rising mortality of shellfish. It notes that other factors such as over-fishing, habitat loss and pollution worsen the impacts of climate change on marine resources. The publication also highlights impending issues such as: the rapid decline of coral reef ecosystems, with the risk of collapse of some coastal fisheries; the likely increase in coral bleaching; potential increases in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing from changes in coastal resources and food insecurity; and possible mass die-offs in farmed fish due to harmful algal blooms.

The brief explains that fishers can adapt to some of the impacts, through, inter alia: changing gear or target species; increasing aquaculture; and moving to dynamic management policies. Additionally, some positive impacts of climate change are highlighted, including faster growth rates and food conversion efficiency, longer growing seasons, and new growing areas due to decreases in ice cover.

Regarding the potential for mitigation in the fisheries sector, the brief highlights options such as strengthening coastal zone management to reduce land-sourced pollution, over harvesting and physical damage to resources. It also suggests creating new habitats, such as artificial reefs, to act as fish nurseries in areas where coral reef destruction occurs. According to the report, protecting some ocean ecosystems will help moderate the speed and scale of climate change, as well as build ecosystem health.

The brief is published jointly by the SFP and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Cambridge Judge Business School, and is supported by the European Climate Foundation. It is one of a series of publications synthesizing the most relevant AR5 findings for specific economic and business sectors, and grew from the idea that the fisheries and aquaculture sector could make better use of the AR5, if distilled into an accessible and succinct summary.

Credit: SFP News Story from the Climate Change: Implications for Fisheries and Aquaculture publication.

Overview: The IPCC AR5 Report- Working Group II

Credit: CGIAR

Credit: CGIAR

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just published its latest Working Group II report detailing impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability associated with climate change. The highly anticipated report paints a bleak picture with respect to the consequences of continued climate change. The latest IPCC report predicts future food and water supply insecurities, and calls for both mitigation and adaptation.

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

Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Rajendra K. Pachauri says he hopes the report on the rising threat of climate change will “jolt people into action”. The report found the strongest evidence of climate change in the thawing permafrost in the Arctic and in the destruction of coral reefs. It found many freshwater and marine species had shifted their geographical range due to climate change. But the report said climate change was growing more evident in human systems as well, where it posed a series of risks. Climate change was already beginning to affect crop yields, especially for wheat and maize, and the report says that yields could decline sharply towards the middle of the century.

The scientists found climate change was a driver of violent conflicts and migration, and was exacerbating inequality, making it harder for people to claw their way out of poverty. Climate change was also a factor in the rise of mega-disasters. The report said climate change was driving recent heatwaves and droughts, and was a risk factor for wildfires.

 The latest IPCC report: FIVE Key Points

1. Food threat

Climate change is already taking a sizeable chunk out of global food supply and it is going to get worse. Increases in crop yields – which are needed to sustain a growing population – have slowed over the last 40 years. Some studies now point to dramatic declines in some crops over the next 50 years – especially wheat, and to a lesser extent corn. Rice so far is unaffected. The shortages, and the threat of food price spikes, could lead to unrest.

2. Human security

Climate change poses a threat to human security, and could lead to increased migration. Potential shortages of food and water, because of climate change, could be drivers of future conflicts. These won't necessarily be wars between states, but conflicts between farmers and ranchers, or between cities and agriculture industry which wants water for food. On the flip side, those conflicts are going to get in the way of government's efforts to protect people from future climate change.

3. Inequality

Some are more vulnerable than others. Poor people in poor countries – and even the poor in rich countries – are going to bear an unfair burden of climate change, the report said. Climate change is going to exacerbate existing inequalities, and it is going to make it harder for people to claw their way out of poverty.

4. No-one is safe

As temperatures rise beyond 2 degrees to 4 degrees – our current trajectory – there are limits to how far society can adapt to climate change. The only way out is to cut emissions now – and buy some time by slowing warming – and at the same time make plans for sea walls, relocations, and other measures that can keep people out of harms' way.

5. Hard but not hopeless.

The report notes that research on the effects of climate change has doubled since the last report in 2007 – and so has understanding about what needs to done to insulate people from more severe consequences.

 As the world digests the sobering findings of the latest installment of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a reminder of what the panel is designed to do: To inform policy decisions, including the negotiations towards the UN global climate change agreement in Paris in 2015. See this and other infographics at http://bit.ly/1ggttKT

Credit: UNFCCC

Credit: UNFCCC

Credit: The UK Guardian and The IPCC


Longstanding CARICOM Negotiator on Climate Change Reflects on the UNFCCC’s 20th Anniversary

Carlos Fuller

Carlos Fuller

Today, Friday, 21 March 2014, marks the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. As we celebrate the landmark Convention and the investment in its implementation over the last two decades, Caribbean Climate, the region’s premier climate change focused blog, asked Carlos Fuller, a long-standing Caribbean negotiator who now functions as the International and Regional Liaison Officer at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, to reflect on this milestone. His comments are featured below.

Having been involved in the climate change negotiation process since its inception, I look back at the past 20 years with mixed emotions. I have witnessed first-hand the assimilation of vague ideas on the elements of a climate change agreement which were crafted into a Convention with perhaps too rigid elements that have hindered the actions required to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases instead of facilitating a process which would have produced the change in productive and consumption patterns to address the causes of climate change. Nevertheless, a series of decisions including the development and adoption of the Kyoto Protocol provided the impetus for a small group of countries to reduce their emissions and have raised the awareness among a significant segment of the population that the world must take action to cope with a changing climate.

The Caribbean has certainly benefited from the process. All CARICOM States are now aware of the threat climate change poses to the region. Institutional processes have been established in the region in response to the threat including the establishment of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre which is mandated to coordinate the region’s response to climate change, the development of a Master of Science programme in climate change in CEREMES at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies and the creation of the Climate Change Impacts Group at the Moina Campus of UWI among others. The region has attracted over US$100 million in funding to enhance its capacity to address climate change, to assess the impacts of climate change on the region, to asses the region’s vulnerability and to undertake action to reduce that vulnerability. Unfortunately, the region has emulated the example of the international community and has not undertaken the transformational changes that will make the region resilient to climate change.

The region and the international community have another chance to get it right. The global community has embarked on a process to develop a new climate change agreement which should be finalized in Paris in December 2015 and which will come into effect in 2020. That agreement must stimulate all countries to contribute to an international effort to drastically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and provide the financial and technical support to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The next two years  will be especially crucial as the international community seeks to craft a global agreement that involves all actors (developed, developing, LDC’s etc.) in a massive effort to keep global temperature increase below the 2 deg. C mark and for the capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund at a level that ensures adequate resources are available to allow significant implementation of Adaptation measures in CARICOM and other developing countries.

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