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Regional Scientists To Present 1.5 Report at Caribbean Climate Change Conference

PRESS RELEASE – Port-of-Spain: October 9, 2017: When scientists and researchers meet in Trinidad at the International Climate Change Conference for the Caribbean this week, it will be in the aftermath of the devastation wrought in the region by successive monster storms in the current 2017 Hurricane Season.

The conference, which is being hosted by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in association with the European Union (EU) funded Global Climate Change Alliance Plus Initiative (GCCA+) runs from October 9 to 12. It brings together regional scientists to update regional stakeholders on the ongoing regional research in climate change, inform on actions being undertaken to build climate resilience across the region by regional and international organisations, and discuss issues related to climate finance and the science, policy and finance nexus.

Scientists will present the key findings of the 1.5 to Stay Alive research project for the Caribbean region, which was funded by the Caribbean Development Bank. This should offer more insight into the consequences of global warming exceeding a 1.5 degree Centigrade threshold and provide our regional climate change negotiators with a more robust science-based platform for further insisting at the forthcoming Conference of Parties (COP) at the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) that global mitigation efforts need to be scaled up so that global warming does not exceed this threshold.

The meeting is being held under the theme “Adaptation in Action” which CCCCC’s Deputy Executive Director and Science Advisor Dr. Ulric Trotz said because this best describes the focus of regional institutions and countries in the face of threats posed by Climate Change.

“The 2017 Hurricane Season shows us that we must be proactive in building resilience in the small nation states of the region. And while adaptation and mitigation are critical, climate financing is a much-needed lifeline if the region is to successfully pursue a low carbon climate resilient development pathway. We cannot survive unless we are able to build to withstand these super storms,” he said.

Climate negotiators and Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Focal Points from across the region are also in attendance.

Other sponsors include the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), United Nations Development Programme Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (UNDP J-CCCP) and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

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The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

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Caribbean Scientists Work to Limit Climate Impact on Marine Environment

In the Turks and Caicos, the government is searching for new ways to manage the conch and lobster populations. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

In the Turks and Caicos, the government is searching for new ways to manage the conch and lobster populations. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

Caribbean scientists say fishermen are already seeing the effects of climate change, so for a dozen or so years they’ve been designing systems and strategies to reduce the impacts on the industry.

While some work on reef gardens and strategies to repopulate over fished areas, others crunch the data and develop tools designed to prepare the region, raise awareness of climate change issues and provide the information to help leaders make decisions.

As the oceans absorb more carbon, the region’s supply of conch and oysters, the mainstay of some communities, is expected to decline further.

In December 2017, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) secretariat, with funding from the UK government, announced a Climate Report Card to help formulate strategies to lessen the impact of climate change on regional fisheries.

“The CRFM is trying to ensure that the issue of climate change as it relates to the fisheries sector comes to the fore… because the CARICOM Heads of Government have put fish and fishery products among the priority commodities for CARICOM. It means that things that affect that development are important to us and so climate change is of primary importance,” said Peter Murray, the CRFM’s Programme Manager for Fisheries and Development.

The grouping of small, developing states are ‘fortifying’ the sectors that rely on the marine environment, or the Blue Economy, to withstand the expected ravages of climate change which scientists say will increase the intensity of hurricanes, droughts, coastal sea level rise and coral bleaching.

In its last report AR5, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported: “Many terrestrial, freshwater and marine species have shifted their geographic ranges, seasonal activities, migration patterns, abundances and species interactions in response to ongoing climate change,” patterns that are already being noted by Caribbean fishers.

In an email to IPS, Murray outlined several initiatives across the Caribbean that ,he says are crucial to regional efforts. The Report Card, which has been available since March, will provide the in-depth data governments need to make critical decisions on mitigation and adaptation. It provides information covering ocean processes such as ocean acidification; extreme events like storms, surges and sea temperature; biodiversity and civil society including fisheries, tourism and settlements.

In addition, the 17-members of the CRFM agreed to incorporate the management of fisheries into their national disaster plans, and signed off on the Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy for the fisheries sector.

“It means that anything looking at climate change and potential impacts is important to us,” Murray says.

The IPCC’s gloomy projections for world fisheries has been confirmed by a 2015 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report indicating that for the last 30 years, world fisheries have been in decline due to climate change. In the Caribbean, reduced catches are directly impacting the stability of entire communities and the diets and livelihoods of some of the region’s poorest. Further decline could devastate the economies of some islands.

But even as climate change is expected to intensify the effects of warming ocean waters, pelagic species could avoid the Caribbean altogether, bringing even more hardships. So the regional plan is centred on a Common Fisheries Policy that includes effective management, monitoring and enforcement systems and tools to improve risk planning.

In addition to the disaster plan and its other activities, the Community has over time installed a Coral Reef Early Warning System; new data collection protocols; improved computing capacity to crunch climate data; an insurance scheme to increase the resilience of fishing communities and stakeholders; as well as several tools to predict drought and excessive rainfall.

Worldwide, three billion people rely on fish as their major source of protein. The industry provides a livelihood for about 12 per cent of the world’s population and earns approximately 2.9 trillion dollars per year, the WWF reports. With regional production barely registering internationally, the Caribbean is putting all its efforts into preserving the Blue Economy, which the World Bank said earned the region 407 billion dollars in 2012.

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, known regionally as the 5Cs, has coordinated and implemented a raft of programmes aimed at building systems that will help the region cope the effects of climate change.

Through collaboration with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the 5Cs has been setting up an integrated network of climate and biological monitoring stations to strengthen the region’s early warning mechanism.

And as the oceans absorb more carbon, the region’s supply of conch and oysters, the mainstay of some communities, is expected to decline further. In addition, warming sea water is expected to shift migration routes for pelagic fish further north, reducing the supply of available deep sea fish even more. Added to that, competition for the dwindling resources could cause negative impacts of one industry over another.

But while scientists seek options, age-old traditions are sometimes still pitted against conservation projects. Take an incident that played out in the waters around St. Vincent and the Grenadines a few weeks ago when whale watchers witnessed the harpooning of two orcas by Vincentian fishermen.

The incident forced Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to announce the end of what was, until then, a thriving whaling industry in the village of Barouille. For years, government turned a blind eye as fishermen breached regional and international agreements on the preservation of marine species. The continued breaches are also against the Caribbean Community’s Common Fisheries Policy that legally binds countries to a series of actions to protect and preserve the marine environment and its creatures.

On April 2, five days after the incident, Gonsalves took to the airwaves to denounce the whaling caused by “greed” and announce pending regulations to end fishing for the mammals. The incident also tarnished the island’s otherwise excellent track record at climate proofing its fishing industry.

Murray’s email on regional activities outlines SVG activities including the incorporation of the regional strategy and action plan and its partnership with several regional and international agencies and organisations to build resilience in the marine sector.

Over in the northern Caribbean, traditions are also testing regulations and international agreements. In Jamaica, the Sandals Foundation in association with major supermarket chains has launched a campaign to stop the capture and sale of parrotfish for consumption.

Scientists say that protecting the parrotfish is synonymous with saving the reefs and mitigating the effects of climate change. And further north in the Turks and Caicos, the government is searching for new ways to manage the conch and lobster populations. While trade is regulated, household use of both, sea turtles, and some sharks remain unregulated; and residents are resistant to any restrictions.

And while many continue to puzzle about the reasons behind the region’s climate readiness, scientists caution that there is no time to ease up. This week they rolled out, among other things, a coastal adaptation project and a public education and awareness (PAE) programme launched on April 26 in Belize City.

The PAE project, named Feel the Change, is funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Project (J-CCCP) public awareness programme. Speaking at the launch, project development specialist at 5Cs, Keith Nichols, pointed to the extreme weather events from severe droughts to changes in crop cycles, which have cost the region billions.

“Climate change is not just sea level rise and global warming; climate change and climate variability is all around us,” he said.

Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency

UTech launches graduate degree in sustainable energy and climate change

The University of Technology (UTECH), Jamaica through its Caribbean Sustainable Energy and Innovation Institute (CSEII) and the Faculty of The Built Environment (FOBE) will on Thursday launch the multidisciplinary Master of Science Degree in Sustainable Energy and Climate Change.

The degree was developed in collaboration with technical assistance from partner the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) through the CARICOM Renewable Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance Programme (REETA) and is the first programme of its kind to be offered in the Caribbean region.

A release from the university disclosed that the establishment of the programme is in response to the need for tertiary level training of specialists in the areas of sustainable energy and climate change and has a strong focus on Sustainable Energy, Entrepreneurship and Green Business Development – areas critical to Jamaica’s future development within the global economy and for the creation of new jobs and innovations in keeping with the Green Growth strategy of the Government.

 Keynote speaker would be Professor  Thomas Bruckner, Head of Division, Sustainable Management and Infrastructure Economics, Fraunhofer Centre for Internal Management and Knowledge Economy IMW and Coordinating Lead Author, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Germany, who will speak on “Decarbonising the world economy: Technical Options and Policy Instruments.”

Other speakers include Senator Ruel Reid, Minister of Education, Youth and Information , Dr Andrew Wheatley, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology , Professor Stephen Vasciannie, President, UTech, Jamaica,  Dr Ruth Potopsingh, AVP, Sustainable Energy, UTech, Jamaica who will provide an overview of the Master’s programme, Dr Devon Gardner, Programme Manager, Energy, CARICOM Secretariat, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, the German Embassy in Jamaica and the Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).

The launch is slated to take place at 9:00 am at Lecture Theatre 4 (LT4), Faculty of The Built Environment at the Papine campus.

The event will be followed by technical workshops from 11:30 am – 4:30 pm, while a Green Business Start-up Clinic will be held on Friday, March 3 from 8:45 am – 4:30 pm.

Credit: Jamaica Observer

World Meteorological Organization first UN agency to formalize relationship with GCF

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations’ authority on the state of the planet’s atmosphere and climate, has become the first UN specialized agency to formalize its relationship with the Green Climate Fund (GCF). By signing its accreditation master agreement with GCF, the WMO can now receive financial resources for climate action programmes and projects.

This development represents an important milestone for both GCF and the UN system, signaling the role of the Fund in supporting other international organizations advance low-emission and carbon-resilient programmes and projects through GCF in developing countries.

The WMO joins the rank of other Accredited Entities that have concluded their accreditation master agreements with GCF: Agency for Agricultural Development (ADA) of Morocco; Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC); Centre de Suivi Écologique (CSE) of Senegal; and Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) of Namibia.

“The Green Climate Fund is pleased to have the World Meteorological Organization as the first UN organization to formalize its relationship with the Fund,” said Héla Cheikhrouhou, Executive Director of GCF. “As the lead coordinating body for global climate research, the WMO brings a high level of expertise and a unique perspective to strengthen the support GCF will provide to countries in implementing the Paris Agreement,” she said.

An accreditation master agreement is the central instrument in the relationship between GCF and an Accredited Entity. It sets out the basic terms and conditions as to how the accredited entity and GCF can work together for the use of GCF resources.

In addition to WMO, several other UN system organizations are in the process of finalizing their respective accreditation master agreement with the Fund.

The Geneva-based WMO is a specialized agency of the UN with 191 Member States, providing an intergovernmental framework for global cooperation on climate issues. It is also host to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the international body for the assessment of the science related to climate change that was set up in 1988 by WMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Credit: Green Climate Fund

Tackling climate change in the Caribbean

climate change

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

5Cs Concludes Annual Board of Governors Meeting: Expanded partnerships with CARPHA, Deeper Private Sector Partnerships, New Member and Heightened Outreach Announced

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Placencia, Belize; June 29, 2015― The Board of Governors of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre concluded its annual meeting (June 25 -28) in Placencia, Belize yesterday.  The Board agreed that the Centre  will deepen engagement with the private sector to ensure broad utilisation of the seminal Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation Tool (CCORAL), pursue closer collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA, which includes the former CEHI ), expand its youth focused public education work and welcome at least one new beneficiary country.

Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) are essential to advance the Centre’s multipronged approach to building climate resilience in the region. The Centre successfully used this approach to implement projects, such as  the installation of  reverse osmosis desalination facilities  in Bequia, Petite Martinique and Carriacou, to improve access to potable water. Leveraging this approach to improve the uptake of CCORAL will be a key feature of the Centre’s work in the coming year. CCORAL , which was launched by the Centre in July 2013, is an online support tool developed to strengthen climate resilient decision-making processes across various sectors in the Caribbean by embedding a risk ethic. It has been endorsed by regional and international partners, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Centre has been working with the Caribbean Development Bank, its long-standing partner and a permanent member of the 11 member Board of Governors, and other development partners to mobilise private sector support for the tool. The Board also notes that the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) is a natural partner for the success of the tool at the regional level.

Following a special presentation to the Board of Governors in 2014  by Dr C.J Hospedales, CARPHA’s Executive Director, the Centre is moving to deepen collaboration with the region’s premier health agency. The two entities are expected to collaborate to develop joint proposals aimed at reducing the region’s vulnerability and  building  resilience to the likely effects of climate change across a myriad of areas of mutual interest.

The success of the Centre’s new engagements will also offer an opportunity to advance its public education work. The Centre successfully piloted a network of school-based environmental clubs in Belmopan, Belize this year. This initiative includes 60 to 90 minute weekly meetings, experiential learning, highly interactive group exercises and discussions. This comprehensive youth focused outreach initiative, which also included the first Belize – Mexico Student Exchange on Climate Change, will be a key  element of the Centre’s public engagement moving forward. The network of clubs will be rolled out across Belize and in three other CARICOM countries over the next 12 months.

To meet the emerging challenges and demonstrate its commitment towards a low carbon development pathway, the Board also reinforced its support for the construction of facilities to carry out the Centre’s operations. The Centre is currently housed in rented facilities provided by the Government of  Belize. The Government of Belize has allocated 10 acres of land to the Centre, on which a custom-designed, ‘green’ facility will be constructed. The Centre  is in the process of seeking financing to undertake  this initiative. This development comes as the Centre prepares to celebrate its 10th Anniversary. The Board greatly appreciates the goodwill of the Centre’s host government  in areas including and beyond the provision of property for the future facility and also welcomes similar offers from the University of Belize.

As the Centre expands and matures it is looking to welcome a new member. The Centre expects Martinique to become an Associate Member in the medium term, which would bring the total beneficiary countries to 15. The Board of Governors is aware that all countries in the region, whether English-, French- or Dutch-speaking are highly vulnerable to the risks posed by global climate change, as they are exposed to the same threats such as rising air and sea surface temperatures, changing rainfall patterns sea-level rise and changes in the behaviour of extreme weather and climate-related extreme events. It is against this background that the Board welcomed the application of Martinique for Associate Membership.

The Centre has expanded rapidly since it commenced operations in 2005, having developed the capacity to successfully execute a suite of regional climate change related programmes worth between US$40 and US$50 million over the last five years. The Centre continued the execution of eight medium to large projects/programmes over the last twelve months. The Centre’s most recent programme is a €12.8 million initiative to address ecosystems-based adaptation under an agreement with the German Development Bank (KfW). The KfW supported engagement seeks to protect the region’s extensive coastal resources through a combination of ecosystems-based adaptation and environmental engineering approaches that will also embed livelihood considerations as a core element of the programme.   The comprehensive investment under the initiative developed by the Centre, in conjunction with the KfW, will focus on enhancing the resilience of the region’s coastal resources to the impacts of climate change and climate variability.

VIDEO: Climate Change Projects in the Caribbean:

Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie says the Centre, under a directive from CARICOM Heads, has been “working with national governments to put together programmes that would help them develop bankable projects that can be funded under the various mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Centre is putting maximum effort to ensure CARICOM Member States get their fair share of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Adaptation Fund (AF) and other funds to help them in their adaptation efforts. That is our primary thrust— to meet the mandate given to us by the regional Heads.”

Accordingly, the Centre has applied to be a regional implementing entity for the Adaptation Fund, and is strengthening its capacity by establishing a Monitoring and Evaluation Unit to better prepare it to function as an implementing agency with the requisite technical capacity to institute projects on par with international organizations operating in the region. The new Unit will also advance the Centre’s capacity to advise and help governments develop, monitor and evaluate programmes in accordance with its mandate as the region’s key node of information and action on climate change. Following decisions taken at last year’s Board of Governors meeting, the Board has strengthened its fiduciary oversight through a Finance and Audit Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors, annual  internal audits,   and increased focus on data and plant security.

Chairman of the Board of Governors, Dr. Leonard Nurse, says these changes are necessary given the Centre’s shift from a project-based orientation to more programmatic activities in a bid to ensure its long-term sustainability. He notes that the Centre, which is primarily funded through grants and not government subventions, is swiftly advancing efforts to set up a Trust Fund. The Fund, which has been seeded with US$1M from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, will be an independent arrangement administrated by the CDB that would allow the Centre to co-finance projects and fund project priorities over the long-term.

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The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

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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

COP2O Week 1 Recap: Caribbean notes “small victories” and anticipates Ministerial decisions

Week two of COP20 is now underway in Lima, Peru. Here's a round-up of week one from  Sharon Lindo, International and Regional Policy Officer at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.

The Caribbean Community continues to carve out a niche for itself in the Climate Change negotiations underway at COP 20 in Lima, Peru.  If the first week of COP20 were to be summed up in a few words, it would be one of celebrating small victories.  But any seasoned negotiator would caution against celebrating now.

The Alliance of Small Island States welcomed the call by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outcomes to inform the Ad-Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform and other UNFCCC processes.  This augers well for CARICOM, who have always supported science-based methods to inform action in the negotiations.  The region looks forward to the use of the IPCC reports and other similar scientific processes to inform the 2015 Agreement.  Undoubtedly the Region is encouraged by this first step.

In addition, the Caribbean Community considers the decision on bunker fuels timely. Under this arrangement the IMO and CMO will be allowed to continue their work and report to the COP without having any immediate financial obligations.

There has been much discussion and variance in positions on the Co-chairs Decision Text.  While the current text does not offer all things to all Parties CARICOM believes that it contains enough substance for Parties to engage meaningfully.  This is especially important if guidance is to be given to commence work on the INDCs.

The Region is also looking forward to receiving the Revised Elements Text and the finalization of the Executive Committee for Loss and Damage.  CARICOM continues to advocate for a seat on the Committee for SIDS as the issue is of paramount importance to this group.

Small victories are being celebrated in Lima, but the region is treading carefully and looks with cautious optimism at the week ahead.  There are a few crucial items to be decided by the Ministers, including how to address the INDCs and whether these should only be based on mitigation, which is currently only supported by CARICOM.  The end of the next week will reveal whether CARICOM Ministers are able to hold its position and convince other delegations of its merit.

In typical COP tradition the next week will be a marathon for delegations.  By all accounts there still remains substantial work if countries are to meet the 2015 deadline.  The unified voice of small island states in the Caribbean Community and the wider alliance is essential in the days ahead if the Paris meeting will meet expectations.  Like the rest of the world, we are eagerly anticipating the final decisions of Ministers on Friday.

Save the date

Also read:

COP 20 to Lay Foundation for Paris 2015 Agreement

Finance for Climate Action Flowing Globally – Upwards of 650B in 2011-2012

Climate Change: What about the SIDS? A Youth Perspective

Young people from across the Caribbean are increasingly raising their voices about climate change and its impacts (current and projected) on the region. In recognition of this, Caribbean Climate features an exclusive contribution by 23 year old Dizzanne Billy, who is an active executive member of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network-Trinidad and Tobago, in which she reflects on the role of SIDS in the global climate change discourse. Dizzanne’s reflection comes just as Small islands prepare to sign a historic treaty in Samoa

Credit: CCCCC

Credit: CCCCC

I dare you.

Conduct a simple ‘Google Images’ search on climate change and what do you see before you? Indeed, visions of melting polar ice caps and stranded polar bears are the predominant insignia for the issue of climate change. Undoubtedly, these matters are cause for great concern and my purpose is not to diminish their salience in any way. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has repeatedly highlighted the urgency of findings which reveal that a large portion of the West Antarctic has disappeared and they have stressed the irreversible nature of this occurrence. Nevertheless, it is pivotal that the communication of climate change exude relevance for its target audience. Images of the polar melt are likely to be met with blank stares and shrugs in the Caribbean, where the closest thing to an ice cap is party ice – huge bags of ice used to chill drinks at parties. Yes, climate change is an overwhelming concept to comprehend, and yes, the multiplicity of its very nature can prove itself complex. However, it is an issue that affects countries everywhere in the world regardless of location or level of industrial activity. However, what we must notice is that in order to effectively get the message out there and attract the most influential people to the cause, it must be communicated in a way that leads the seriousness of the issue straight to their front door.

Due to climate change, the world has witnessed longer and colder winters in some parts, drought-like conditions in others, concentrated rainfall during what would normally be a dry season, and persistent episodes of dry environments during what would usually be a wet/rainy season. These conditions have set the stage for a plethora of what can aptly be described as climatic madness  in some countries, specifically, Small Island Developing States (SIDS), a term which encompasses those coastal countries that are grouped based on certain characteristics that they share. These include issues in achieving sustainable development, vulnerability to external shocks and natural disasters, and a highly embedded reliance on imports and degradation of their natural resources, which contributes to the delicacy of their environment.

 The severity of the climate change situation for SIDS can be likened to dumping a large bowl of salt in their wounds as these nations are already playing the ‘catch-up’ game in the race toward development.  For instance, water scarcity in Samoa is greatly a result of climate change as water catchments continue to dry up due to increasing temperatures and weather patterns that are progressively unstable. There is a growing belief that in semi-arid countries like Samoa, climate change and meteorological uncertainty has led to increased temperatures, less precipitation, reduced stream flows, increased evaporation from reservoirs, and major depletion of water supplies. Being an island where all watersheds are shared by villages, water governance is crucial but implementation is difficult due to lack of institutional capacity. These are generally the woes of Pacific SIDS and can be mirrored in SIDS of the Caribbean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and the South China Sea.

A crucial consideration is the nexus between climate change and food security. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in May 2014, issued a major report which emphasised the causes, effects, and resolutions of climate change, and its influence on food security was isolated as a topic for special concern. Essentially, the accessibility to food, steadiness of food supply, and sanitation of food all fall prey to the afflictions of climate change. To add insult to injury, SIDS are particularly vulnerable to climate change due to their stature and geographic characteristics. Sea-level rise can engulf coastal areas, where for instance in Trinidad and Tobago, most farmers choose to do their cultivation.

Will the day ever come when the climate change issues of SIDS are taken seriously on the international stage? Does the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities not apply to environmental issues faced by countries of this world? Indeed, developed countries continue to turn to industrialisation as the preferred measure of development, murder forests, and emit toxic chemicals and gases wantonly, but at what cost? Can a process which so drastically diminishes the quality of human life be called development at all?

 That being said, I am aware that developing countries have a role to play in dealing with the environmental issues that plague us, but we need to have a platform for our issues to be raised and an audience that is serious about addressing them. That can begin with a simple Google Images search that returns results which reflect the universal impact of climate change. Climate change is, to a certain extent, considered a very real global threat. This global threat requires global action and no action is truly global without the inclusion of SIDS at every level of the discourse.

5Cs Concludes Annual Board of Governors Meeting

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

5Cs Concludes Annual Board of Governors Meeting:

Expanded partnerships with CARPHA and CDB, new facility and enhanced institutional capacity announced

Belmopan, Belize July 26, 2014― The Board of Governors of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre concluded its annual meeting (July 24 -26) in Belize City today.  Among the key decisions taken, the Centre has been charged to deepen a range of partnerships, including the expansion of its collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA, which includes the former CEHI ), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and other agencies. The Board also approved plans for institutional strengthening, including pursuing a not-for-profit status to enable greater resource mobilization to address climate variability and change; entering bilateral discussions for the establishment of a new multi-purpose facility, strengthening coordination among regional negotiators and revising the management mechanism for an independent Trust Fund.

Following a special presentation to the Board of Governors by Dr. C.J Hospedales, CARPHA’s Executive Director, the Centre committed to deepen collaboration with the region’s premier health agency. The two entities are expected to collaborate immediately after the Board of Governors Meeting to develop joint proposals aimed at reducing the region’s vulnerability and  building  resilience to the likely effects of climate change. Further, the Board noted that the Centre has been working with CARPHA to broaden the regional  focus on climate change and health, as a vital element of the Caribbean’s sustainable development thrust.

The Board notes that  Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) are essential to advance the Centre’s multi-pronged approach to building climate resilience in the region. Citing the success of the Centre’s PPP oriented pilot projects, including  the installation of  reverse osmosis desalination facilities  in Bequia, Petit Martinique and Cariacou to improve access to potable water, which is being replicated across the region and resulting in increased demand for the Centre’s services, Chairman of the Board, Dr. Leonard Nurse says the Centre will pursue a similar approach for the continued rollout of the  Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation Tool (CCORAL). CCORAL, which was launched by the Centre in July 2013, is an online support tool developed to support climate resilient decision-making processes across sectors in the Caribbean by embedding a risk ethic, has been endorsed by regional and international partners – including the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri. The Centre will therefore work with the CDB, its longstanding partner and a permanent member of the 11 member Board of Governors, to mobilise private sector support for the tool.

The Centre has expanded rapidly since it commenced operations in 2005, having developed the capacity to successfully execute a suite of regional climate change related programmes worth between US$40 and US$50 million over the last five years. Accordingly, the Centre will implement a €12.8 million project later this year to address ecosystems-based adaptation under an agreement with the German Development Bank (KfW). The KfW supported engagement seeks to protect the region’s extensive coastal resources through a combination of ecosystems-based adaptation and environmental engineering approaches that will also embed livelihood considerations as a core element of the programme.   The comprehensive investment under the initiative developed by the Centre, in conjunction with the KfW, will focus on enhancing the resilience of the region’s coastal resources to the impacts of climate change and climate variability.

Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie says the Centre, under a directive from CARICOM Heads, has been “working with national governments to put together programmes that would help them develop bankable projects that can be funded under the various mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Centre is putting maximum effort to ensure CARICOM Member States get their fair share of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Adaptation Fund (AF) and other funds to help them in their adaptation efforts. That is our primary thrust— to meet the mandate given to us by the regional Heads.”

Accordingly, the Centre has applied to be a regional implementing entity for the Adaptation Fund, and is strengthening its capacity by establishing a Monitoring and Evaluation Unit to better prepare it to function as an implementing agency with the requisite technical capacity to institute projects on par with international organizations operating in the region. The new Unit will also advance the Centre’s capacity to advise and help governments develop, monitor and evaluate programmes in accordance with its mandate as the region’s key node of information and action on climate change. Following decisions taken at last year’s Board of Governors meeting, the Board has strengthened its fiduciary oversight through a Finance and Audit Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors, an internal auditor for the Centre and increased focus on data and plant security.

Dr. Nurse says these changes are necessary given the Centre’s shift from a project-based orientation to more programmatic activities in a bid to ensure its long-term sustainability . He notes that the Centre, which is primarily funded through grants and not government subventions, is advancing efforts to set up a Trust Fund. The Fund, which has been seeded with US$1M from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, will be an independent arrangement administrated by the CDB that would allow the Centre to co-finance projects and fund project priorities over the long-term.

To meet the emerging challenges and demonstrate its commitment towards a low carbon development pathway, the Board also approved plans to pursue the construction of its own facilities to carry out is operations. The Centre is currently housed in rented facilities provided by the Government of  Belize. The Government of Belize has already allocated 10 acres of land to the Centre, on which a custom-designed, ‘green’ facility will be constructed. The Centre  is in the process of seeking financing to undertake  this initiative.

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The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

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