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CARICOM Climate Change Experts Meet in Belize

Climate change experts from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are meeting in Belize at the Belize Biltmore Plaza between Monday and Tuesday, July 8 and 9, 2019 to review the draft Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.

The workshop is being organised by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in association with Climate Analytics and is being implemented through the IMPACT project which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

The objective of the workshop is to prepare CARICOM officials for the IPCC Plenary Meeting in September 2019 which will adopt the Summary for Policy Makers and the underlying report. Chapters in the report addressing sea level rise and the implications for low lying coastal communities and marine ecosystems will be especially important for the Caribbean. The report will provide inputs to the next round of climate change negotiations at COP 25 in Santiago de Chile in December 2019.

The IPCC is the intergovernmental body of the United Nations charged with providing objective scientific information on climate change, its impacts and possible response actions. It produces an authoritative assessment on climate change every seven years in addition to special reports. Its last Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees Celsius produced last year is now the principal scientific document influencing the international response to climate change.

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the 5Cs, represented AOSIS as lead negotiator in reaffirming commitment to bold and urgent global climate action based on the best available science in the BBC’s ‘Triple Whammy’ threatens UN Action on Climate Change

protestors

A “triple whammy” of events threatens to hamper efforts to tackle climate change say UN delegates.

At a meeting in Bonn, Saudi Arabia has continued to object to a key IPCC scientific report that urges drastic cuts in carbon emissions.

Added to that, the EU has so far failed to agree to a long term net zero emissions target.

Thirdly, a draft text from the G20 summit in Japan later this week waters down commitments to tackle warming.

One attendee in Bonn said that, taken together, the moves represented a fierce backlash from countries with strong fossil fuel interests.

There was controversy last December at the Katowice COP24 meeting in Poland, when Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia objected to moves to welcome the findings of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C.

That study, regarded as a landmark, had two clear messages.

It showed that there were huge benefits in keeping temperature rises this century to 1.5C compared to a world that warmed 2C or more.

It also said that keeping the world below 1.5C was still possible, if drastic cuts in emissions were initiated by 2030.

To the frustration of a huge majority of countries, the objections of the four major fossil fuel producers, meant that the scientific report was not formally recognised in the negotiations.

Climate meeting
Image captionDuring intense discussions about the IPCC, some delegates sat on the floor

The battle over the 1.5C report has carried over from Katowice to Bonn. Normally, this mid-year meeting is concerned with technical questions but this time the issue of the IPCC has re-emerged as a huge fault line between nations.

The Saudis are keen to highlight what are termed “knowledge gaps” in the IPCC report, that they believe hamper its ability to inform decision making at national or international level.

“We know that there are some hardliners that would try to downplay the seriousness and the actions that are required, that is their point of view,” said Carlos Fuller from Belize, the lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States.

“They recognise that they need to undertake major changes that they are not happy about.”

Many environmental campaigners see the Saudi pressure on the IPCC as part of campaign to discredit the science.

“The report shows the importance of striving towards 1.5C, that it is still achievable, and there is an incredible urgency to act vigorously and quickly,” said Dr Jeni Miller from the Global Climate and Health Alliance.

“This report was requested by the UN, by these countries themselves, so to not accept the findings of the report is a rejection of science, and if you are rejecting the science there is not a way forward to address this problem.”

climate protestors
Image captionClimate protestors have sought to bring their message to major events including a speech at the Mansion House by Chancellor Philip Hammond

While delegates seek to find a way forward on the science, there is growing concern about the European Union’s inability to reach consensus on cutting carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

Despite the late support of Germany in favour of the idea, four countries including Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Estonia, refused to support the plan last week.

This has caused some dismay among officials at the UN.

The Secretary General, António Guterres, has called a special summit on climate change to be held in New York in September with the express purpose of getting countries to increase their existing targets.

The EU’s proposed net zero goal was key to making this a success.

Mr Guterres has expressed his “personal concern” about the setback. Campaigners are also worried.

“The EU are very aware of the Secretary General’s summit, they are aware they are calling for a revision of targets, it would be embarrassing for the EU to go with what they just have now,” said Ulriikka Aarnio, from the Climate Action Network.

“Somebody said they would be going from leader to loser if that was the case.”

Contributing to the downbeat mood in Bonn is the forthcoming G20 meeting of global leaders in Osaka, Japan.

A draft of the closing communiqué mentions climate change as just one issue among many and omits to use the phrases “global warming” and “decarbonisation”.

Critics believe that Japan is trying hard to win favour with the US on trade issues by downplaying the scale of the climate question and possible solutions to it.

Japan climate
Image captionJapan is said to be keen to curry favour with the US by downplaying climate issues at the upcoming G20 in Osaka

“The story, based on a draft of the communiqué, shows Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a weak host and his G20 climate promises are full of hot air, undermining his previous claims that he seeks to save the planet.” said Kimiko Hirata, director of the Kiko Network Japan, a non-governmental organisation.

“Japan, alongside China, is the biggest financier of coal overseas in the world and the government continues to build new coal plants domestically despite our huge solar and wind power potential.”

As well as Japan, other leading economies are continuing to support coal based power generation. A study released by the Overseas Development Institutesays that G20 nations have almost tripled the subsidies given to coal fired plants in recent years, despite the growing need to cut emissions.

CREDIT: BBC News

CARICOM Champions Science at COP 24 – Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and Climate Change Negotiator

The Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) were among a large group of countries at COP 24 insisting that the global response to climate change be driven by science.

During 2018 the CARICOM Member States tried to include the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C as an agenda item at COP 24. However, they were unable to do so. At COP 24 they used two approaches to highlight the importance of the Special Report to the process. In the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) under the agenda item on Research and Systematic Observations (RSO), they proposed a paragraph welcoming the Special Report. Led by Ms Cheryl Jeffers of St Kitts and Nevis, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the group also tried to insert paragraphs highlighting key messages from the 2018 State of the Climate presented by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the work of a Task Force of Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). Although these were supported by most of the countries present, including the African Group, the Least Developed Countries Group (LDCs), the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC) and the European Union (EU), it was opposed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia and the United States. As a result, when the SBSTA session ended, there were no agreed conclusions on this issue and discussions will resume at the next session in May 2019.

Undeterred, CARICOM continued to press the case the following week and were able to get reference to the IPCC Special Report in the main COP decision. It invited countries to consider the information contained in the report when they addressed relevant issues. In addition, SBSTA will discuss the contents of the report in May. IPCC assessments and reports will also be used to inform the global stocktake to be undertaken in 2023 to assess the implementation of the Paris Agreement and inform subsequent countries nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

In the decision adopting the Paris Agreement in 2015, the IPCC was requested to prepare this special report. Leonard Nurse, UWI (Barbados); Felicia Whyte, Kimberly Stephenson, Tannecia Stephenson and Michael Taylor, UWI (Jamaica); and Adelle Thomas of the University of the Bahamas contributed to the preparation of the report. During 2018 as the report was circulated for comments, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre with support from Climate Analytics and Charles and Associates organized regional workshops with CARICOM national IPCC and UNFCCC Focal Points to review the report and provide comments on its contents.

The IPCC will produce two additional special reports in 2019, and CARICOM scientists will once again play an important role in their preparation. Adrian Spence, International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (Jamaica); Kenel Delusca, Institute of Science, Technology and Advanced Studies of Haiti; and Noureddin Benkeblia and Donovan Campbell, UWI (Jamaica) will be contributing authors to the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land. For the IPCC Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere on a Changing Climate, Michael Sutherland, UWI (Trinidad and Tobago) has been selected to assist in preparing the report.

ACP/EU Working Lunch Convened at COP 24

Photo Credit: Carlos Fuller

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer represented the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre at a working lunch of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Island (ACP) States and the European Union (EU) today in Katowice, Poland, the venue of COP 24.  In his opening statement Commissioner Antonio Arias Canete noted that the European Community was the largest donor to climate finance and would continue to do so referencing their latest pledges to the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund. They were committed to meeting their obligations under the Paris Agreement and would begin working on their long-term strategy towards carbon neutrality by 2050.

CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General Dr Douglas Slater expressed the Caribbean’s appreciation to the support provided by the EU to the region in the areas of development, disaster relief and climate change. He thanked the EU for its solidarity with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in welcoming the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C and for a strong outcome of the Talanoa Dialogue including a COP decision calling on Parties to submit more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020. These sentiments were also expressed by Minister Stiell of Grenada who also highlighted the need for the inclusion in the outcome of Loss and Damage and Finance in response to the IPCC Report. The Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations echoed these sentiments and called for increased support to the region for technology transfer and capacity building.

The representative of Poland informed the meeting that the COP Presidency had now taken over the drafting of the language for the outcomes of the COP. Ministerial consultations had ended. A new clean text would be issued later today and would be debated in a Vienna style setting.

In his closing remarks, Commissioner Canete emphasized that climate change would be the cornerstone of the new ACP/EU partnership programme. He noted that the combined membership of ACP and EU States was more than half of the UN seats. Working together the group could produce great results.

The region was represented by Belize, Jamaica, and the Commission of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

News from COP 24 – Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and Climate Change Negotiator

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and Climate Change Negotiator on  the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP 24):

Climate Change Talks Reach Crucial Stage

Negotiations on climate change at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland have now reached a crucial stage. Technical negotiations on elements of the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) ended at 5 pm yesterday. At a plenary meeting later that evening, the COP President announced that there were many outstanding issues remaining. He said that negotiations could now longer continue in the present mode. He has appointed pairs of ministers representing developed and developing countries to undertake consultations on 5 clusters: Transparency, Mitigation and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the Global Stocktake (GST), Adaptation, and Cooperative Approaches. Two ministers from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) were among those selected. Singapore will join Norway in facilitating discussions on Mitigation and NDCs, while the Marshall Islands and Luxemburg will undertake the GST. Germany and Egypt will continue their consultations on Finance while Poland as the COP President is undertaking consultations on the contents of elements to be included in COP decisions.

AOSIS representing the interests of SIDS is advocating strongly for inclusion of the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming at 1.5°C and the outcomes of the Talanoa Dialogue.

Belize at High-level Segment of the Talanoa Dialogue

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre represented Belize at the high-level segment of the Talanoa Dialogue. In his opening statement he noted Belize’s vulnerability to climate change and the reason the country supported the call to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level. Quoting from the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) 2018 State of the Climate Report that 2018 was turning out to be the fourth warmest year on record, he maintained that concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had now reached 405 parts per million (ppm). The last time that concentrations were that high was 3 to 5 million years ago when sea levels were 15 feet higher than present levels. That means that Belize City and other coastal communities and all the cayes would have been under water.

He went on to note that the recently approved Report on Global Warming of 1.5 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) asserted that the global temperature was now one degree higher than the pre-industrial level and the countries like Belize were already experiencing the adverse impacts of climate change. At 1.5 degrees, conditions would get worse but were manageable, however, at 2 degrees, ecosystems like coral reefs would be unable to survive. The Caribbean would become so acidic from the carbon dioxide it was absorbing from the atmosphere that shell fish like conch, lobster and shrimp, would find it difficult to grow their shells.

He pointed out that the report said that it was still possible to achieve the 1.5-degree target. However, action was required immediately and that emissions of greenhouse gases would have to be reduced by 50% by 2030, and by 2050 the world would have to become carbon neutral. This would require a massive transformation of all sectors of the economy including energy, agriculture, industry and forestry. It would require a massive injection of capital, transformation of the work force and international cooperation. Such a paradigm shift would stimulate the global economy to unprecedented levels of growth that would include all levels of society, raise standards of living and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Mr Fuller was joined in the Dialogue by the Ministers of Latvia and South Africa and representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and the Youth Organization. The Talanoa Dialogue was mandated by the COP decision which adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015 to inform the revision of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020. The present NDCs will limit global warming to 3 degrees Celsius while the Paris Agreement’s objective is to limit it to far below 2 degrees and possibly 1.5 degrees.

Talanoa Dialogue Concludes

The COP 23 and COP 24 Presidencies chaired the meeting which closed the Talanoa Dialogue at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Manuel Guteres in his opening statement noted that the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C concluded that the 1.5-degree target was still achievable. He called upon Parties to communicate more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) leading up to and at the Summit he would convene in September 2019. Ministers from Poland and Fiji reported on the Ministerial Talanoa roundtables convened yesterday. Switzerland announced that it would reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 50% by 2030 in accordance with the findings of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 and that it was now developing its long-term emission reduction target for 2050. He highlighted the call in the joint submission by the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG), the Independent Association of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (AILAC) and CARICOM for Parties to enhance their NDCs by 2020.

Minister Steele of Grenada highlighted the need for Parties to undertake rapid action to increase their mitigation ambition in accordance with the finding of the IPCC Special Report. This would require enhanced financial, technical and capacity building support to enable this ambition both for the mitigation target but also for the adaptation actions that would be required in a 1.5-degree world. Towards this end he called for a strong COP decision that incorporated these elements including the call for more ambitious NDCs. He looked forward to the UN Secretary-General’s Summit as an important political moment to raise ambition.

The European Union (EU) also called for a COP decision as an outcome of the Talanoa Dialogue process and that the UN Secretary General’s Summit would be the next opportunity for Parties to announce their enhanced NDCs. The Maldives on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) called for the Talanoa process to continue. At the conclusion of the meeting the Polish Presidency noted the benefits of the 1.5-degree target. He invited Timothy and Hanna, two youth representatives from Fiji and Poland to join the head table where they delivered a joint declaration. In his closing statement the Prime Minister of Fiji issued the Talanoa Call for Action. He welcomed the IPCC Special Report and thanked the scientists who contributed to it. He said that Fiji would join the Marshall Islands in submitting a more ambitious NDC and called for others to come to the SG’s Summit with similar concrete plans. He asked for the Talanoa process to continue to the Summit and beyond.

 View Carlos Fuller’s input on the Dialogue at time period 1:20:00 by clicking on the link: DREKETITalanoa Dialogue (MR – 12)

CARICOM Unified on COP24 Expectations

The twenty-fourth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate, known as COP24, will take place in Poland from December second to the fourteenth. The key objective of this year’s conference is to adopt the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement. It brings together world leaders and champions of the environment in a number of high-level events. Belize is part of the block of countries identified as Small Island Developing States. Last week, CARICOM member states of the grouping met in Barbados to prepare for the conference. The Caribbean Community Climate Change Center’s Carlos Fuller shares the region’s expectation of the event:

Carlos Fuller

Carlos Fuller, International & Regional Liaison Officer, CCCCC

“For us, COP24 is an important one because it is the most significant COP after the Paris Agreement, which will actually provide the rules of the Paris Agreement. So, when you read through the Paris Agreement, for example, it says many things. It establishes a transparency framework – well what is it? We have to say what that is. It establishes a compliance committee, so what will the compliance committee do? These are the things that will set the stage for the implementation of Paris Agreement.  These are the technical parts. However, there are two aspects of the Paris Agreement that will happen at the COP that are very important for the Small Island Developing States. The first of all is this IPCC Special Report on one point five degrees global warming. We know, for example, that report was actually commissioned by COP21 which adopted the Paris Agreement. It requested the IPCC to prepare this report at the request of Small Island Developing States, because we were concerned that within the Paris Agreement while it gives the goal of two point zero, it also says let us strive for one point five. So, this report feeds into aspects of it and there are parts of that report that are very alarming for small island developing states.”

Andrea Polanco

“With the IPCC Report, does it change the way you are going to go into COP24?”

Carlos Fuller

“Most definitely. It shows us the sense of urgency that it is much greater now. It also shows us that the kind of financing that we are asking for, it has changed the landscape totally. What was being provided will not be enough for countries to reduce their emissions to greenhouse gases, much less to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change which we in Belize are already experiencing.”

CREDIT: Channel 5 Belize

IPCC Report Front and Center of CARICOM’s Approach to COP24

And so if you’re wondering what exactly the IPCC Report means for the small island developing states; the news is grim.  For coral reefs and other vulnerable ecosystems it may mean a massive die out if we can’t keep global temperatures down to one point five degrees Celsius. Fuller said that the report has a big impact on the SIDS’ approach to COP24. But not all is doom and gloom, as there is roughly about twelve years for countries to cut emissions and bring down the global temperatures.

Carlos Fuller, International & Regional Liaison Officer, CCCCC

“First of all, it tells us that already the earth has warmed by one point one degrees Celsius, so we only have point four degrees Celsius more to go before we reach the one point five degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages.  We are already feeling the effects of that one degree rise already. At one point five it is going to be worse, but at two degrees it is going to be alarming. Ecosystems that could potentially adapt at one point five will not be able to survive at two degrees Celsius. For us, at one point five, we will lose seventy-five to ninety percent of our coral reefs. At two degrees, it is totally dead. That, obviously, we cannot accept. The good part of the report says it is still achievable to reach the one point five degrees Celsius target. Current greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are not enough to lead us to one point five yet. So, if we do something now it can be achieved but we only have ten years to do it because after 2030 unless we address it, we have lost the one point five target. So, it can be done and we know that it will require a huge investment in transforming our economies from fossil fuel based to renewable energy where Belize is doing a great role. But it has to be all sectors, electricity, transport, agriculture, forestry – so all sectors must contribute to that. So, we want that to come out at the COP and we know that we might face some setbacks there.”

CREDIT: Channel 5 Belize

IPCC Releases 1.5 Report with dire warning for the Caribbean and the World

Belmopan, Belize; October 10, 2018 – The highly anticipated 1.5 degrees’ report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been released, and the news is dire. But while Scientists ‘sound the alarm about complacency’, they’ve given hope that it is still possible to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees.

The report clearly outlines the risks of exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; this is the upper limit of warming that small islands states have advocated for many years.

“This report is a wake-up call for governments and the world, that we no longer have time for playing-around. It is time for hard-work to avert climate change and  the small islands states need significant financial help to make it happen” said Science Advisor and deputy executive director at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) Dr Ulric Trotz.

In the Special Report on Global Warming at 1.5 Degrees released on Monday, October 8, 2018, the IPCC warned that the global leaders need to quickly cut carbon emissions over the next decade. The landmark report by the world’s top scientists studying climate change noted, that to avoid going past 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels, the world needs to adopt “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

“From the small island perspective, this is probably the most important report the IPCC has done, not only because it was in part called for by Small Island Developing States (SIDS) but also because every important message we have been requesting over the years is now backed up by scientific assessment in this report,” said Dr Michael Taylor one of the Caribbean’s leading climate scientists and a contributor to the report.

Dr Taylor noted that the Caribbean science underpins the assessments and supports the urgency of the messages that highlight not only the expected impacts on the region at 1.5 degrees”, but also “the enormous risks of 2 degrees, to the synergies with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), to adaptation needs, deficits and costs, to the necessity for more mitigation”.

The report outlines the considerable risks now being faced by SIDS to the escalating impacts of extreme events, from sea level rise to slowed economic growth, biodiversity loss and significant global risks, should global warming exceed 1.5°C.

For SIDS, the difference between warming at 1.5°C and 2°C is critical, resulting in increased water stress, more intense rainfall during tropical cyclones, and increased exposure to irreversible sea level rise. Some coral reefs would be able to adapt at 1.5°C, at 2°C their chances of survival are next-to-none, irrecoverably damaging the fisheries and livelihoods that depend on them.

Here in the Caribbean, the changes are already happening. The region is experiencing hotter days and nights, more intense rainfall as well as more and longer periods of drought, putting lives, livelihoods and economies at risk.

Significant data from the Caribbean and SIDS have featured prominently in this IPCC reports which provides a clear picture of the level of devastation that would occur at 2 degrees. The inclusion of regional data sets has been hailed a success by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) the agency designated by CARICOM to lead the Caribbean’s response to Climate Change.

“We set out to have the Caribbean situation reflected in the report and we have accomplished that,” Trotz said.

The Centre has been working with regional and international organisations to pull together institutions such as Cuba’s Institute of Meteorology, the Caribbean’s own CIMH, the Universities of the West Indies and Suriname and others to coordinate the production of Caribbean-specific models and information which provided critical information to the special report.

The 1.5 report was released during the 48th Session of the IPCC in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

— END —

Link to the Special Report on Global Warming at 1.5 Degrees: http://ipcc.ch/report/sr15/.

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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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Maya Farmers in South Belize Hold Strong to Their Climate Change Experiment

In one of Belize’s forest reserves in the Maya Golden Landscape, a group of farmers is working with non-governmental organisations to mitigate and build resilience to climate change with a unique agroforestry project.

Magnus Tut a member of the Trio Cacao Farmers Association cuts open a white cacao pod from one of several bearing treen in his plot. The group is hoping to find more buyers for their organic white cacao and vegetables. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

BELMOPAN, Sep 5 2018 (IPS) – In one of Belize’s forest reserves in the Maya Golden Landscape, a group of farmers is working with non-governmental organisations to mitigate and build resilience to climate change with a unique agroforestry project.

The Ya’axché Conservation Trust helps farmers to establish traditional tree crops, like the cacao, that would provide them with long-term income opportunities through restoring the forest, protecting the natural environment, while building their livelihoods and opportunities. Experts say the farmers are building resilience to climate change in the eight rural communities they represent.

The agroforestry concession is situated in the Maya Mountain Reserve and is one of two agroforestry projects undertaken by the 5Cs, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), in its efforts to implement adaptation and mitigation strategies in communities across the Caribbean.

Close to 6,000 people both directly and indirectly benefit from the project which Dr. Ulric Trotz, science advisor and deputy executive director of the 5Cs, noted was established with funding from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UK DFID).

“It is easily one of our most successful and during my most recent visit this year, I’ve seen enough to believe that the concept can be successfully transferred to any community in Belize as well as to other parts of the Caribbean,” he told IPS.

The Trio Cacao Farmers Association and the Ya’axché Conservation Trust have been working together since 2015 to acquire and establish an agroforestry concession on 379 hectares of disturbed forest. The agroforestry project was given a much-need boost with USD250,000 in funding through the 5Cs.

According to Christina Garcia, Ya’axché’s executive director, the project provides extension services. It also provides training and public awareness to prepare the farmers on how to reduce deforestation, prevent degradation of their water supplies and reduce the occurrence of wildfires in the beneficiary communities and the concession area.

Since the start, more than 50,000 cacao trees have been planted on 67 hectares and many are already producing the white cacao, a traditional crop in this area. To supplement the farmers’ incomes approximately 41 hectares of ‘cash’ crops, including bananas, plantains, vegetable, corn and peppers, were also established along with grow-houses and composting heaps that would support the crops.

This unique project is on track to become one of the exemplary demonstrations of ecosystems-based adaptation in the region.

The 35 farming families here are native Maya. They live and work in an area that is part of what has been dubbed the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, which connects the forests of the Maya Mountains to that of the coastal lowlands and is managed by Ya’axché.

Farmers here believe they are reclaiming their traditional ways of life on the four hectares which they each have been allocated. Many say they’ve improved their incomes while restoring the disturbed forests, and are doing this through using techniques that are protecting and preserving the remaining forests, the wildlife and water.

On tour of the Ya’axché Agroforestry Concession in the Maya Golden Landscape. From right: Dr Ulric Trotz, deputy executive director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC); Dr Mark Bynoe, head of project development at the 5Cs; Isabel Rash, chair of the Trios Cacao Farmers Association; Magnus Tut, farmer and ranger and behind him Christina Garcia, executive director Ya’axché Conservation Trust. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

Other members of the communities, including school-age teenagers, were given the opportunity to start their own businesses through the provision of training and hives to start bee-keeping projects. Many of the women now involved in bee-keeping were given one box when they started their businesses.

The men and women who work the concession do not use chemicals and can, therefore, market their crops as chemical free, or organic products. They, however, say they need additional help to seek and establish those lucrative markets. In addition to the no-chemicals rule, the plots are cultivated by hand, using traditional tools. But farmer Magnus Tut said that this is used in conjunction with new techniques, adding that it has improved native farming methods.

“We are going back to the old ways, which my father told me about before chemicals were introduced to make things grow faster. The hardest part is maintaining the plot. It is challenging and hard work but it is good work, and there are health benefits,” Tut told IPS.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) supports the farmers’ beliefs, reporting that up to 11 percent of greenhouse gases are caused by deforestation and “between 24 and 30 percent of total mitigation potential” can be provided by halting and reversing deforestation in the tropics.

“The hardest part of the work is getting some people to understand how/what they do impacts the climate, but each has their own story and they are experiencing the changes which make it easier for them to make the transition,” said Julio Chun, a farmer and the community liaison for the concession. He told IPS that in the past, the farmers frequently used fires to clear the land.

Chun explained that farmers are already seeing the return of wildlife, such as the jaguar, and are excited by the possibilities.

“We would like to develop eco-tourism and the value-added products that can support the industry. Some visitors are already coming for the organic products and the honey,” he said.

Ya’axché co-manages the Bladen Nature Reserve and the Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve, a combined 311,607 hectares of public and privately owned forest. Its name, pronounced yash-cheh, is the Mopan Maya word for the Kapoc or Ceiba tree (scientific name: Ceiba pentandra), which is sacred to the Maya peoples.

Of the project’s future, Garcia said: “My wish is to see the project address the economic needs of the farmers, to get them to recognise the value of what they are doing in the concession and that the decision-makers can use the model as an example to make decisions on how forest reserves can be made available to communities across Belize and the region to balance nature and livelihoods.”

Scientists believe that well-managed ecosystems can help countries adapt to both current climate hazards and future climate change through the provision of ecosystem services, so the 5Cs has implemented a similar project in Saint Lucia under a 42-month project funded by the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance (EU-GCCA+) to promote sustainable farming practices.

The cacao-based agroforestry project in Saint Lucia uses a mix-plantation model where farmers are allowed to continue using chemicals, but were taught to protect the environment. Like the Ya’axché project, Saint Lucia’s was designed to improve environmental conditions in the beneficiary areas; enhance livelihoods and build the community’s resilience to climate change.

In the next chapter, the Ya’axché farmers project is hoping that, among other things, a good samaritan will help them to add facilities for value-added products; acquire eco-friendly all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to move produce to access points; and replace a wooden bridge that leads to the main access road.

Tut and Chun both support the views of the group’s chair Isabel Rash, that farmers are already living through climate change, but that the hard work in manually “clearing and maintaining their plots and in chemical-free food production, saves them money”, supports a healthy working and living environment and should protect them against the impacts of climate change.

Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency

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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