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COP 24 Adopts Paris Agreement Rulebook – Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and Climate Change Negotiator

After two weeks of intense negotiations that went 28 hours into overtime, COP 24 adopted a 133-page “rulebook” for the Paris Agreement. These rules which are contained in a series of Decisions contain the modalities and procedures on how the various articles of the Paris Agreement are to be implemented.

The COP welcomed the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to which the Parties in the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) had failed to agree the previous week. This report was used to inform the Talanoa Dialogue, which encouraged Parties to consider the outcomes of the Dialogue to inform the preparation of the NDCs and pre-2020 ambition.

Guidelines were adopted for the preparation of NDCs including common timeframes commencing in 2030. The NDCs will be posted on a Registry to be developed and maintained by the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which will also include a section for Adaptation Communications. Parties agreed that the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol would serve the Paris Agreement and that it would receive the proceeds of the market mechanism established under the Paris Agreement. However, Parties could not agree on this article of the Agreement which covers cooperative approaches, and the market and non-market mechanisms. The SBSTA would continue debating these issues at this next session for a decision to be adopted at the next COP which will be held in Chile next year.

Parties agreed to commence consideration of the new goal for climate finance in 2020 utilizing the 2020 goal of USD100 billion as the starting point. In addition, as of 2020, developed countries will provide indicative information every two years on the climate financial to be provided to developing countries including the channels, instruments, targeted regions and countries, and sectors.

The modalities, procedures and guidelines of the Transparency Framework were adopted through which Parties will report on how they are implementing the provisions of the Paris Agreement. These will undergo a technical expert peer review process. The Parties also adopted the modalities and procedures which the Compliance Committee will use to assist Parties which are unable to meet their NDCs. The procedures to undertake the global stocktake (GST) in 2023 and every five years thereafter were also agreed.

The result of COP 24 is that the Parties to the Paris Agreement now have most of the tools to begin the implementation of the Agreement.

cop24

Photo courtesy: Britany Meighan

Climate Change Exchange – Presentations and COP 21 Card

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre held the second in a series of Climate Change Exchange events last Thursday in Belize City. The first was held in Barbados last October. The event, which was held with support from the European Union – Global Climate Change Alliance (EU -GCCA) Programme and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) under the DFID ARIES project, sought to raise awareness and promote dialogue about COP 21 slated to be held in Paris later this year, the United National (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), and the range of work done by the Centre across the Caribbean over the last decade.

The widely supported event attracted over 150 guests drawn from the apex of government, the diplomatic corps, the scientific community, civil society, development partners, universities, local and regional media and the general public. It was also live-streamed and broadcast live on four television stations (Krem, Love, Channel 5 and Channel 7) and two radio stations (Krem and Love) in Belize. The event was also covered by the Barbados-based Caribbean Media Corporation and Jamaica’s CVM TV.

An impressive set of international, regional and national experts addressed the audience, including Professor Christopher Fields and Dr Katherine Mach of Stanford University, Mr Carlos Fuller, a veteran Caribbean negotiator, Dr Leonard Nurse, a member of the IPCC’s research and author teams for four global assessment reports and three key project managers.

Peruse the Speakers' Guide to learn more about our speakers.

 Why is COP 21 Important?

This key public education event was held as 2015 is shaping up to be a landmark year for global action on Climate Change. The future of the Caribbean depends on a binding and ambitious global agreement at COP 21. A bold agreement that curbs greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global rise in temperature to below 2°C is needed to safeguard our survival, food, critical industries such as tourism, infrastructure and promote renewable energy.

Peruse our informational card "Why is COP 21 Important?" for more context and the region's 11 point negotiating position leading up to COP 21.

Here’s the Agenda to guide you as you peruse the evening’s key presentations (below).

Key Presentations

Keynote Address by Professor Christopher Field and Dr. Katharine Mach of Stanford University 
Keynote Address  by Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer at the CCCCC – 
CCCCC's Programme Development and Management Presentation by Dr. Mark Bynoe, Sr Economist and Head of the Programme Development and Management Unit at the CCCCC 
EU -GCCA Presentation by Joseph McGann , EU - GCCA Programme Manager at the CCCCC
KfW Presentation by Kenneth Reid, KfW Programme Manager at the CCCCC 

*Click all hyperlinks to access relevant files/webpages.

Caribbean urged to brace for impact of climate change

Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Robert Pickersgill (left), I discussions with CCCCC Executive Director, Dr. Kenrick Leslie (right) (JIS PHOTO)

Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Robert Pickersgill (left), I discussions with CCCCC Executive Director, Dr. Kenrick Leslie (right) (JIS PHOTO)

A two-week regional training workshop on climate change has started here with a warning that the Caribbean could suffer billions of dollars in losses over the next few years as a result of climate change.

“As a region, we have to assist each other in every conceivable way imaginable,” said Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister Robert Pickersgill at the start of the workshop that is being organised by the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in partnership with several regional governments and the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

It is being held under the theme “The use of sector-specific biophysical models in impact and vulnerability assessment in the Caribbean”.

Pickersgill said that Caribbean countries needed to work together to boost technical expertise and infrastructure in order to address the effects of the challenge.

He said global climate change was one of the most important challenges to sustainable development in the Caribbean.

Citing a recent report from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he noted that while the contribution of Caribbean countries to greenhouse gas emissions is insignificant, the projected impacts of global climate change on the Caribbean region are expected to be devastating.

Pickersgill said that according to experts, by the year 2050, the loss to the mainstay tourism industry in the Caribbean as a result of climate change-related impacts could be in the region of US$900 million.

In addition, climate change could cumulatively cost the region up to US$2 billion by 2053, with the fishing industry projected to lose some US$140 million as at 2015.

He said the weather activity in sections of the Eastern Caribbean over the Christmas holiday season was a prime example of this kind of devastation.

The low level trough resulted in floods and landslides in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia and Dominica. At least 15 people were killed and four others missing. The governments said they would need “hundreds of millions of dollars” to rebuild the battered infrastructures.

“For a country the size of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, this loss is significant and could result in their having to revise their GDP (gross domestic product) projections. (Therefore), while one cannot place a monetary value on the loss of lives, the consequences in terms of dollar value to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is also important,” Pickersgill said.

“It only takes one event to remind us of the need to become climate resilient in a region projected to be at the forefront of climate change impacts in the future,” Pickersgill said, adding that he hoped the regional training workshop would, in some meaningful way, advance the Caribbean’s technical capabilities to meet the future projections head-on and be successful.

He said the workshop has particular relevance to Jamaica as one of the SIDS that is most vulnerable to climate change.

The two-week programme forms part of the European Union (EU)-funded Global Climate Change Alliance Caribbean Support Project, which is geared towards the creation and financing of policies that can reduce the effects of climate change as well as improved climate monitoring within the region.

The Global Climate Change Alliance project is to be implemented over 42 months and will benefit Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

CCCCC Programme Manager, Joseph McGann, said the project would include several activities including: enhancing national and regional institutional capacity in areas such as climate monitoring; data retrieval and the application of space-based tools for disaster risk reduction; development of climate scenarios and conducting climate impact studies using Ensemble modeling techniques; vulnerability assessments that can assist with the identification of local/national adaptation; and mitigation interventions.

CMC/id/ir/2014

Credit: CMC

Where’s the Caribbean component of “Turn Down the Heat”?

Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie, CBE

Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie, CBE

Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre Dr. Kenrick Leslie, CBE, says “it would be informative and useful” if a Caribbean-centred study akin to the World Bank’s Turn Down the Heat: Climate extremes, regional impacts and the case for resilience, which focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and South Asia, is conducted.

Turn Down the Heat says it is now very likely that the increase in average global temperature could be as high as 4oC, 2.5 oC more than what the Centre has advocated as a critical threshold for the region since 2009— a position strongly supported by the latest science.

Whereas the World Bank Report dealt in depth with the impact of a 3oC to 4oC temperature rise on the risks of climate change to development in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and South Asia, such an in depth study is yet to be done for our region which is considered one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of Climate Change.

Such a study is particularly important for the region as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted the Caribbean as one of the most vulnerable areas to Climate Change in its Fourth Assessment Review. It further recommended that average global temperature should not exceed 2oC if the region was to avoid significant climate and development impacts.

Dr. Leslie was speaking at the recently concluded (July 15-16) Caribbean Regional Workshop on Climate Change Finance and the Green Climate Fund in Barbados.

Review Dr. Leslie’s speech here. Learn more about Turn Down the Heat.

CCORAL Is Here! Endorsed by the IPCC Chair

In keeping with its thrust to promote a culture of risk management across the region, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre launched a seminal online support tool in Saint Lucia today. The launch event, which was  attended by permanent secretaries from ministries of finance and planning, development partners, Saint Lucia’s Deputy Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre (among other St. Lucian officials), a broad cross-section of regional stakeholders and journalists, officially introduced the Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation TooL (CCORAL).

In his keynote address Dr. James Fletcher, Saint Lucia’s Minister of Public Service, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, urged the region to ensure broad use and adaptability of CCORAL. He added that CCORAL, which has been endorsed by Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, will promote climate-smart development by helping to embed a risk management ethic in decision-making processes across the region.

“The development of the risk assessment tool [is] an extremely important asset in assessing the risk from the impacts of climate change in the Caribbean region,” according to Dr. Pachauri. The two dozen island nations of the Caribbean, and the 40 million people who live there, are in a state of increased vulnerability to climate change. Higher temperatures, sea level rise, and increased hurricane intensity threaten lives, property and livelihoods throughout the region. Against this background, CCORAL will help to boost the capacity of these countries to assess their risk amidst a variable and changing climate, while creating pathways for the identification and implementation of adaptation and mitigation options.

CCORAL is a practical approach to cost-effective climate-resilient investment projects,” says Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. “CCORAL will aid the region in defining approaches and solutions that will provide benefits now and in the future by adopting ‘no-regret’ actions and flexible measures.”

(L-R) Dr. Trotz, Deputy Director, CCCCC; Sylvester Clauzel, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, Saint Lucia;  Keith Nichols, Project Development Specialist, CCCCC; Dr. Bynoe, Sr. Environmental  & Resource Economist, CCCCC;  Dr. Fletcher, Minister of the Public Service, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, Saint Lucia; and Deputy Prime Minister of Saint Lucia Philip J. Pierre

(L-R) Dr. Trotz, Deputy Director, CCCCC; Sylvester Clauzel, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, Saint Lucia; Keith Nichols, Project Development Specialist, CCCCC; Dr. Bynoe, Sr. Environmental & Resource Economist, CCCCC; Dr. Kenrick Leslie, CBE, Executive Director, CCCCC; Dr. Fletcher, Minister of the Public Service, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, Saint Lucia; and Deputy Prime Minister of Saint Lucia Philip J. Pierre

It is intended to be used primarily by agencies at the regional and national level with responsibility for development, planning and finance, the private sector and non-governmental organisations. Ministries of Finance and/or Planning are central to the initial efforts to anchor this tool in climate resilience-building decisions. Notwithstanding, civil society organisations, universities, financial services and development partners, local communities can also use CCORAL to inform actions that must embed climate considerations. The tool is available to all member countries through an open source online platform at ccoral.caribbeanclimate.bz.

According to Keith Nichols, Programme Development Specialist at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, “the development of the risk assessment tool emerged after an extensive consultation process with regional stakeholders to ensure authenticity, relevance and ownership”. It is a direct response to the requirement of the Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change (the “Regional Framework”) and the landmark Implementation Plan (IP) that were endorsed by CARICOM Heads in 2009 and 2012, respectively. The IP acknowledges that a transformational change in mindset, institutional arrangements, operating systems, collaborative approaches and integrated planning mechanisms are essential to deliver the strategic elements and goals of the Regional Framework and to enable climate smart development by embedding a risk management ethic in decision-making.

The Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation Tool (CCORAL), has been developed by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) with funding from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Climate Development and Knowledge Network (CDKN).

Learn more about CCORAL by viewing the CCORAL Fact Sheet and Brochure.

Updated July 12, 2013 at 12:07pm post-lauch

FAO Hosts GHG Emissions Statistics Workshop in Trinidad

Roundtable 1The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre participated in the recently concluded  (June 3-4, 2013) Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) Statistics Workshop in Port of Spain. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) event was organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Resources for Latin American countries. This was the second of a series of regional workshops being undertaken by the FAO to raise awareness of the importance of agricultural statistics for the preparation of GHG inventories and the development of national mitigation strategies to improve agricultural productivity, food security and environmental sustainability.

Representatives of the FAO delivered presentations on agriculture and climate change, emissions from the agriculture sector and the data required for estimating these emissions. They also presented the FAO project, Monitoring and Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Mitigation Potential in Agriculture (MAGHG). The activities of the project include the development of an online agriculture, forestry and land use emissions database (FAOSTAT). The database contains the emissions from all FAO Members in these sectors from 1990 to 2010 using the IPCC 2006 methodology. Further developments in FAOSTAT will include emission projections to 2050.  Representatives of the IPCC Task Force on Inventories (TFI) presented on the use of the IPCC 2006 GHG Inventories software. Representatives of Brazil, and Ecuador presented on their national experiences in developing national  GHG inventory processes.

The workshop included interactive roundtables on climate change, mitigation and adaptation, the requirements of countries to develop inventories in the agriculture sector, and the resolution of problems to improve national GHG Inventory systems especially in light of the UNFCCC decision on biennial update reports (BUR). In Doha, COP 18 decided that countries should provide biennial update reports of their GHG inventories to supplement the inventories in their National Communications.

The representatives of the FAO and the IPCC agreed that a similar workshop could be delivered to the Members of CARICOM upon their request. The Centre will undertake consultations with the climate change authorities in these countries..

Tackling the Caribbean’s Climate-driven Water Resource Problems…

Dr. Jason PolkAssociate Director of Science at the Hoffman Environmental Research Institute, says climate-driven water resource problems in the Caribbean could give rise to another intractable problem, community resistance to increased costs and regulations, if a concerted effort to educate the public  about the challenges and possible solutions is delayed. Read  his exclusive contribution to Caribbean Climate.

Dr. Jason Polk (centre), along with fellow WKU faculty members Dr. Xingang Fan (left) and Dr. Josh Durkee (right) following a meeting at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre in Belmopan, Belize.

Dr. Jason Polk (centre), along with fellow WKU faculty members Dr. Xingang Fan (left) and Dr. Josh Durkee (right) following a meeting at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre in Belmopan, Belize.

The Caribbean is changing every day. The people are changing, as is the geography. Perhaps most importantly, the Caribbean’s climate is changing, like it always has for thousands of years, yet never under the scrutiny with which it is examined today. Geographically, the Caribbean is diverse in its makeup. Isolated islands and small coastal nations that seem lonely and individually reliant upon their ability to persevere against the onset of environmental challenges. These countries comprise a group that shares a long and rich history, and are collectively facing challenges in addressing the risks and impacts from global climate change. Of these, one of the most pressing is the potential impact on the region’s water resources.

Water. Simple, natural, and plentiful. Mention the Caribbean and one immediately thinks of the sea, warm beaches, hurricanes, and shipwrecks. While these images certainly are a reality, behind them exists a region in trouble due to a changing global climate and the demand for fresh water. So, a question to be answered is from where does one obtain water on a Caribbean island? From the rivers? From the ground? Maybe from the ocean? These are all questions needing both to be asked and answered by people of the Caribbean and those looking in from outside. In answering these questions, one may be better able to understand the complex and pressing challenges that climate change has on water resources in the region.

Over the past few decades, new information and events have spurned a closer examination of the future temperature and rainfall patterns of the Caribbean. Results from the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and other regional climate studies indicate the Caribbean region will undergo significant changes, including the following:

  • variability in seasonal rainfall distribution, including decreasing average rainfall amounts of up to 20% or more and subsequent droughts in some areas, while increased seasonal rainfall and flooding events may occur elsewhere
  • changes in hurricane intensity and unpredictability, with the likelihood of more severe storms, including higher winds
  • an increase in average temperatures across the region
  • sea level rise of several millimeters or more, causing coastal inundation and changes in geography and topography
Credit: CGIAR

Credit: CGIAR

With these changes, there will be impacts on the fresh water resources of every nation in the region. Water stress will be one of the greatest challenges, as reduced precipitation and increasing temperatures will cause a lack of water availability in countries like the Bahamas, Grenada, and Jamaica, who already suffer from water scarcity. Several countries, such as Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, are among the most water-stressed nations in the world, meaning that they require more water than is available to the population on an annual basis. Part of this is due to the seasonal availability of rainfall, which is slowly changing due to climate variability.

The cause and effect relationship between precipitation and water scarcity is one of the simpler connections to be made from predicted climate change patterns; however, many others will arise and vary with regional geography, and potential water resource impacts include:

  • challenges to access due to changing conditions in surface streams, springs, and groundwater supplies during drought conditions
  • water quality issues that arise from flooding and population growth as communities and city centers grow in the face of declining agriculture
  • increased flooding from severe storms and hurricanes
  • salt water intrusion into coastal groundwater aquifers
  • increasing water scarcity due to infrastructural challenges and limited capacity to adapt quickly enough to changing climatic conditions

For example, take Barbados, which relies primarily on groundwater from a karst aquifer. Karst is a landscape typified by caves and springs, wherein the rock dissolves away and water is stored in the remaining voids. This type of landscape is commonly found throughout the Caribbean region, and its water resources are highly vulnerable to impacts like pollution, drought, and sea-level rise. Inundation by salt-water can permanently ruin a karst aquifer’s freshwater supply, as the saline water will displace the freshwater, decreasing both its quantity and quality. In places like Barbados and Curacao, desalination plants are necessary to make up the difference in water demand and supply. However, these can be expensive to build and maintain, creating additional environmental consequences in the form of briny discharge and fossil fuel consumption. Curacao is among the region’s oldest user of desalination, having utilized the technology for many decades in the region; yet, today the demands for fresh water still exceed the supply capacity and larger plants are necessary to meet the island’s needs.

Cave KarstThere will continue to be an increasing demand on water resources throughout the region from tourism growth as countries look toward economic gain to finance the mitigation of changing environmental conditions. Water utilities will need to be expanded, coastal development will require additional engineering solutions, and the cost of addressing the human health aspects of waterborne diseases may increase. Without a concerted effort to inform the public of the issues and possible solutions related to climate-driven water resource problems, a bigger challenge may be community resistance to increased costs and regulations. Even those people who opt for cheaper solutions, such as rainwater collection or local wells, may be forced to rely less on these as viable options if rainfall amounts decrease or salt water intrudes, and may demand access to public utilities as an alternative.

Water resource management policies and mitigation plans are often driven by political, economic, and developmental priorities, rather than science- or education- driven solutions, including technological and sustainable ways to adapt to climate change. In the Caribbean region, there exist several possible solutions already in use to varying degrees, including:

  • rainwater collection from roofs using barrels and cisterns
  • desalination plants that are solar powered and able to produce minimal byproducts
  • purchasing and shipping in water from nearby locations (like the water barges used between Andros and Nassau, Bahamas)
  • public education and outreach about conservation efforts

Tap waterA comprehensive assessment of water resource demands, infrastructure, and policies across the region is needed in order to address the critical areas requiring attention. Leaders have resources available to them to assist in information gathering and decision-making, such as those provided by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and other groups. Several courses of action are possible to mitigate water resource challenges caused by climate change. Yet, the first step is to become educated about climate change science and both local and regional water resource issues. Community members can play a role at all levels, from individual conservation efforts to leading regional programs for entire communities. Most importantly, call for action to help build resiliency through education and training. To effect large-scale changes, nations must develop sustainable policies at a regional level to work together to address climate change impacts on water resources.

The reality is climate change impacts do not discriminate among nations, people, governments, economic levels, or geographies, nor do they wait for communities to prepare before occurring. Addressing climate change in the region requires that leaders and community members think locally and act globally. Get to know about climate change science. Get to know a neighbor. Get to know the geography of the Caribbean. Become a part of the conversation in your communities and in the region.

** Dr. Polk is an Assistant Professor of Geography and Geology at the University of Western Kentucky.

Peruse our vault of works (internal and external) on climate change and the Caribbean’s water sector here, by entering the keywords ‘water and climate change’. You’ll find guides on adaptation measures to address the absence of freshwater and coastal vulnerability, pilots, including the Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment System in Bequia, and  national water sector strategies for Jamaica and Belize, and much more.

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