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The government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the US$15 million Japan-Caribbean climate change partnership (J-CCCP) on Thursday, in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The launch follows a two-day meeting with more than 40 representatives from eight Caribbean countries, including government officials, technical advisors, NGO and UN partners to set out a roadmap to mitigate and adapt to climate change, in line with countries’ long-term strategies.
The new initiative will help put in practice Caribbean countries’ actions and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change, such as nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) and national adaptation plans (NAPs). It will also boost access to sustainable energy and help reduce fossil fuel imports and dependence, setting the region on a low-emission development path, while addressing critical balance of payments constraints.
“The government of Japan is pleased to partner with UNDP. It is envisaged that the project will also contribute to building a platform for information sharing in developing and implementing climate change policies and promoting the transfer of adaptation and mitigation technologies. Japan expects, through pilot projects and information sharing, the project will enable the Caribbean countries to enhance their capacity to cope with climate change and natural disasters,” said Masatoshi Sato, minister-counsellor and deputy head of mission at the embassy of Japan in Trinidad and Tobago, stressing that the partnership will also promote South-South and North-South cooperation, including study tours to Japan for government officials and technical advisors.
Participating countries include Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname, benefitting an estimated 200,000 women and men in 50 communities.
“This partnership comes at a critical time in our nation’s sustainable development programme,” said Gloria Joseph, permanent secretary in the ministry of planning, economic development and investment in Dominica. “Dominica has experienced firsthand the devastating and crippling effect that climate change can have on a nation’s people, their livelihoods and economy, risking losing up to 90 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to a tropical storm or hurricane. Dominica stands ready and welcomes the opportunity to benefit from early response warning systems, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction measures as it seeks to restore and ‘build back better’.”
Climate change is recognised as one of the most serious challenges to the Caribbean. With the likelihood that climate change will exacerbate the frequency and intensity of the yearly hurricane season, comprehensive measures are needed to protect at-risk communities. Boosting resilience is crucial for the region’s development and is a clear part of UNDP’s global strategic plan of programme priorities.
Negative impacts on land, water resources and biodiversity associated with climate change have also been predicted with the potential to affect shoreline stability, the health of coastal and marine ecosystems and private property, as well as ecosystem services. Increasing coastal erosion and severe coral reef bleaching events are already evident in some locations.
“UNDP has been championing the cause of climate change in the Caribbean for many years and we are pleased to partner with the Government of Japan toward the implementation of climate change projects in eight Caribbean countries,” said Rebeca Arias, regional hub director for UNDP’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. “In light of the COP21 agreement, these projects are timely in assisting countries to respond more effectively to the impacts of climate change and to increase their resilience through actions today to make them stronger for tomorrow.”
Credit: Caribbean News Now
“CARICOM’s interests were strongly represented in a focused and coordinated manner by heads of government, ministers, the CARICOM secretary-general (Irwin LaRocque)and his staff, and a team of experienced and skilled negotiators led by Dr the Honourable James Fletcher. We are satisfied that our strong advocacy helped to ensure that the [final] agreement reflected the region’s position on our major red-line issues,” Stuart, who is also prime minister of Barbados, said in a release issued by the CARICOM Secretariat through Panos Caribbean.
“The region’s successful campaign, built around the slogan ‘1.5 to Stay Alive’, received energetic support from several groups and organisations, including youth and cultural artistes, whose efforts must be applauded,” added Stuart.
The campaign kicked off in October with a launch event held in St Lucia. At the same time, a website, Facebook page, and Twitter account were established to promote Caribbean negotiating positions and to expose the region’s climate challenges.
Later, a theme song – the collaborative effort of a number of regional acts – was released.
Several other activities, including a Selfie Video Challenge and a flash mob, were also implemented to get Caribbean people in the know and behind the campaign effort.
At the talks, the region, for the first time, had a pavilion – called the Wider Caribbean Pavilion – that afforded the space for strategy meetings by regional negotiators and networking among players.
Caribbean artistes Aaron Silk of Jamaica and Adrian ‘The Doc’ Martinez of Belize were also on hand to spread, through music, the ‘1.5 To Stay Alive’ message, and were big hits with participants.
In the end, Stuart said it all paid off.
“We believe that the actions and investment approved in the agreement will bring us closer to the goal of maintaining global average temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius and along a clear trajectory downwards towards 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels,” he said.
“That agreement will also help to realise the goals of lower greenhouse gas emissions, greater resilience, and sustainable development, especially among the small-island and low-lying coastal developing states (SIDS), with the most vulnerable populations such as the countries of the Caribbean. We determinedly and successfully promoted recognition of the special circumstances and vulnerabilities of SIDS, which are among the lowest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, but are the most threatened by climate change,” Stuart added.
One Jamaican actor involved in the negotiations agreed that the Caribbean could feel satisfied with the result.
“The CARICOM region can be satisfied with the outcome, which retains the recognition under the (United Nations Framework) Convention (on Climate Change), of the fact that SIDS have specific needs and face special circumstances which render our territories particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. We have also secured a decision for equal funding for adaptation and mitigation,” noted Colonel Oral Khan, a member of the Jamaica delegation to Paris and chief technical director in the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change.
“This is very significant for us as the science is telling us that the concentration of greenhouse gases is already at a level that can be catastrophic. We, therefore, cannot await the benefits from current mitigation efforts, which will be realised over the next half a century. There are things we must do now to protect vital sectors of our economy and the lives of our people,” he added.
What remains is to have these things actioned.
“The international community must now retain the energising and uplifting spirit of Paris in the process going forward. The world expects no less,” Stuart said.
Credit: Jamaica Gleaner
Guyana signed a readiness grant agreement with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) in Paris on Tuesday, December 08, 2015. The funding will provide USD 300,000 to Guyana to help the country build capacity to access GCF funding for its priority projects in the future.
This project, which was negotiated between the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC or 5C) and the Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea of Italy, aims to address several issues affecting CARICOM States under the rubric of Climate Change, inclusive of mitigation, adaptation and vulnerability. The 5Cs is an Accredited Entity (AE) to the Fund, meaning that it can partner with GCF in delivering mitigation and adaptation projects on the ground in the Caribbean.
Executive Director of the 5Cs, Dr. Kenrick Leslie attended the ceremony along with H.E. Raphael Trotman, Minister of Governance of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, who signed on behalf of Guyana in the presence of H.E. Winston Jordan, the Guyanese Minister of Finance. Ousseynou Nakoulima, Director of Country Programming, signed on behalf of the Fund.
The GCF aims to help CARICOM Member States to adapt to climate change, by lessening their vulnerability to sea level rise and climate variability; identifying and implementing the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs); reporting and assessing of the Member States INDCs and the development and dissemination of renewable energy sources and technology.
According to iNews Guyana, “Francesco La Camera, Director General of the Ministry of Environment of Italy, signed a €6 million project to assist CARICOM Member States to mitigate climate variability and change.”
The GCF also seeks to transfer scientific and technical knowledge, experiences and technology, facilitate the exchange of experts, scientists and researchers; enhance the capacities for the implementation of mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its related instruments, and to promote joint ventures between the private sectors of the Parties.
The Fund provides early support for readiness and preparatory activities to enhance country ownership and access through its country readiness programme. A minimum of 50 per cent of readiness support is targeted at Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as Guyana, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and African States.
More than 95 countries have so far expressed interest in receiving readiness support from the Fund, and more than 30 such grants have been approved to date.
The estimated timeframe for the project is five years. Minister Trotman thanked the Government and People of Italy for their continued support and friendship shown towards the people of Guyana and the Caribbean.
Credit: iNews Guyana, Green Climate Fund
Rescue teams are still searching for dozens of missing villagers in rural areas of the Caribbean island of Dominica, days after Tropical Storm Erika caused massive flooding and landslides.
The storm has already killed at least 20, and Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says that number could rise as helicopters reach areas cut off by eroded roads.
Dominica was the island worst affected by the storm — which weakened over eastern Cuba on Saturday, losing its title of tropical storm after drenching Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Heavy rains could still hit parts of Florida.
In his address to the nation late Friday, Skerrit continued his call-to-action after tweeting that Dominicans are “living the effects of climate change.”
“Let us consider this disaster as a test of our ability to respond collectively, patriotically and imaginatively to the peculiar challenges of globalization and climate change that have been intensifying since the start of the 21st century,” he said.
Dominican photographer Chris Louis traveled throughout the country photographing the storm’s destruction. He says the damage from Erika is some of the worst he’s seen and climate change could be to blame.
“We usually expect [mudslides] when heavy rains follow a prolonged dry spell, and there has not been much rain recently,” he says. “[But] a few years ago, this kind of weather would not have done as much damage.”
According to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, small islands like Dominica are especially vulnerable to rising temperatures, shore erosion and increased storm intensity. Although the Caribbean accounts for just one percent of global CO2 emissions, Gerald Lindo, senior technical researcher for Jamaica’s Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, says the Caribbean is disproportionately affected.
“It’s messing up our economies, creating a perpetual recession,” he says. “Most of the islands of the Caribbean have been experiencing a really rigorous drought. We were coming into this hurricane season in the weird position of really hoping for some water without extreme flooding. So it wasn’t just the storm that kind of signaled climate change for us.”
But Dr. Michael Taylor, professor of physics at the University of the West Indies at Mona, cautions against pinpointing a single storm as an indicator of climate change. He says several factors could have contributed to Dominica’s substantial flooding and landslides.
“You have to be wary of taking one storm as a sign of what’s to come,” he says. “But a storm like this makes us sit up and pay attention. The science is supporting the fact that underlying conditions for these intense rains is a result of warming global temperatures.”
Debate over climate change in many Caribbean nations is largely divided. Within Dominica’s diaspora, some aren’t ready to declare Erika’s damage a direct result of a changing environment.
Kevin Dorsett, a Dominican now living in Washington, DC, says that while he does think storms are getting stronger, Erika could just be a case of the most vulnerable island at the worst possible time.
“I don’t believe climate change was the result of this,” he says. “Dominica is not like the rest of the Caribbean. It is very mountainous and rarely has any flat areas. We [have] tons of rivers and lakes so, with all the non-stop rain, rivers just overflowed.”
On the island, Sabra Luke says climate change isn’t something people in Dominica usually consider. Right now, rescuing trapped and missing Dominicans is their only priority. She says some of the hardest hit areas are barely recognizable.
“There are many persons who have lost everything,” she says. “Medical teams are needed here; we need emergency relief supplies.”
The search for missing Dominicans will continue throughout the weekend. In his address, Skerrit called on the international community for help.
“We have, in essence, to rebuild Dominica,” he says. The prime minister estimates that tropical storm Erika has set back development and infrastructure in Dominica by 20 years.
Credit: Global Post
“The disparity between the very rich and the very poor in Jamaica means that persons living in poverty, persons living below the poverty line, women heading households with large numbers of children and the elderly are greatly disadvantaged during this period,” Judith Wedderburn, Jamaica project director at the non-profit German political foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), told IPS.“The food production line gets disrupted and the cost of food goes up, so already large numbers of families living in poverty have even greater difficulty in accessing locally grown food at reasonable prices.” — Judith Wedderburn of FES
“The concern is that as the climate change implications are extended for several years that these kinds of situations are going to become more and more extreme, [such as] greater floods with periods of extreme drought.”
Wedderburn, who spoke with IPS on the sidelines of a FES and Panos Caribbean workshop for journalists held here earlier this month, said Caribbean countries – which already have to grapple with a finite amount of space for food production – now have the added challenges of extreme rainfall events or droughts due to climate change.
“In Jamaica, we’ve had several months of drought, which affected the most important food production parishes in the country,” she said, adding that the problem does not end when the drought breaks.
“We are then affected by extremes of rainfall which results in flooding. The farming communities lose their crops during droughts [and] families associated with those farmers are affected. The food production line gets disrupted and the cost of food goes up, so already large numbers of families living in poverty have even greater difficulty in accessing locally grown food at reasonable prices and that contributes to substantial food insecurity – meaning people cannot easily access the food that they need to keep their families well fed.”
One local researcher predicts that things are likely to get even worse. Dale Rankine, a PhD candidate at the University of the West Indies (UWI), told IPS that climate change modelling suggests that the region will be drier heading towards the middle to the end of the century.
“We are seeing projections that suggest that we could have up to 40 percent decrease in rainfall, particularly in our summer months. This normally coincides with when we have our major rainfall season,” Rankine said.
“This is particularly important because it is going to impact most significantly on food security. We are also seeing suggestions that we could have increasing frequency of droughts and floods, and this high variability is almost certainly going to impact negatively on crop yields.”
He pointed to “an interesting pattern” of increased rainfall over the central regions, but only on the outer extremities, while in the west and east there has been a reduction in rainfall.
“This is quite interesting because the locations that are most important for food security, particularly the parishes of St. Elizabeth [and] Manchester, for example, are seeing on average reduced rainfall and so that has implications for how productive our production areas are going to be,” Rankine said.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced recently that September 2014 was the hottest in 135 years of record keeping. It noted that during September, the globe averaged 60.3 degrees Fahrenheit (15.72 degrees Celsius), which was the fourth monthly record set this year, along with May, June and August.
According to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Centre, the first nine months of 2014 had a global average temperature of 58.72 degrees (14.78 degrees Celsius), tying with 1998 for the warmest first nine months on record.
Robert Pickersgill, Jamaica’s water, land, environment and climate change minister, said more than 18,000 small farmers have been affected by the extreme drought that has been plaguing the country for months.
He said the agricultural sector has lost nearly one billion dollars as a result of drought and brush fires caused by extreme heat waves.
Pickersgill said reduced rainfall had significantly limited the inflows from springs and rivers into several of the country’s facilities.
“Preliminary rainfall figures for the month of June indicate that Jamaica received only 30 per cent of its normal rainfall and all parishes, with the exception of sections of Westmoreland (54 percent), were in receipt of less than half of their normal rainfall. The southern parishes of St Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon, St Catherine, Kingston and St. Andrew and St. Thomas along with St Mary and Portland were hardest hit,” Pickersgill said.
Clarendon, he said, received only two percent of its normal rainfall, followed by Manchester with four percent, St. Thomas six percent, St. Mary eight percent, and 12 percent for Kingston and St. Andrew.
Additionally, Pickersgill said that inflows into the Mona Reservoir from the Yallahs and Negro Rivers are now at 4.8 million gallons per day, which is among the lowest since the construction of the Yallahs pipeline in 1986, while inflows into the Hermitage Dam are currently at six million gallons per day, down from more than 18 million gallons per day during the wet season.
“It is clear to me that the scientific evidence that climate change is a clear and present danger is now even stronger. As such, the need for us to mitigate and adapt to its impacts is even greater, and that is why I often say, with climate change, we must change,” Pickersgill told IPS.
Wedderburn said Jamaica must take immediate steps to adapt to climate change.
“So the challenge for the government is to explore what kinds of adaptation methods can be used to teach farmers how to do more successful water harvesting so that in periods of severe drought their crops can still grow so that they can have food to sell to families at reasonable prices to deal with the food insecurity.”
Credit: IPS News
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean are still seeking consultants to update the FAO’s AQUASTAT Report for the Caribbean. The deadline date for proposals for Cuba, Dominican Republic and Jamaica only, has been extended to March 5th, 2014.
Download the Terms of Reference for the three (3) consultancies below:
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has a unique global water information system, AQUASTAT, developed since 1993 by the Land and Water Division. The main objective of the programme is to systematically select the most reliable information on hydrological resources and water use in each country, as well as to make this information available in a standard format for interested global, regional and national users.
The last update of the AQUASTAT report for the Caribbean was done in 2000. Hence the FAO in partnership with the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) search for suitable consultants to update the FAO’s global water information system – AQUASTAT through five (5) consultancies for the following countries:
- Dominican Republic
- Lesser Antilles (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago)
Interested persons should submit their proposals for Cuba, Dominican Republic and Jamaica only via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and address to the GWP-C Regional Coordinator.
Download the Terms of Reference for the various consultancies here.
Source: Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C)
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.
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Dec 6, CMC – The Third International Conference on Climate Change Services (ICCS3) was ending here on Friday with stakeholders indicating that the three day forum providing an opportunity to find linkages between international climate services and those in the region.
“This conference is of great importance for developing countries and for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in particular,” said Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Robert Pickersgill.
“It is common knowledge that we are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, but what this conference will provide, is an opportunity to build our capacity, and to look beyond weather and hydrological information, to a focus on climate information for decision-making,” he added.
The conference sought to address to address current progress, challenges and opportunities in climate services implementation, and foster discussions regarding the transition from pilot activities to sustained services.
Deputy Director and Science Advisor at the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), Dr Ulric Trotz, said the conference was the first of its kind in the Caribbean and any developing country.
He said the three-day event provided an opportunity to find linkages between international climate services and those in the region.
Officials said climate services are crucial as climate variability and change were posing significant challenges to societies worldwide.
“Therefore, timely communication of climate information helps prevent the economic setbacks and humanitarian disasters that can result from climate extremes and long term climate change,” the officials said.
The CCCCC is supporting a series of national consultations across the Caribbean under the Global Framework For Climate Change Services (GFCS) which was established in 2009 at the World Climate Conference-3 (WCC3).
The vision of the GFCS is to enable society to better manage the risks and opportunities arising from climate variability and change, especially for those who are most vulnerable to such risks.
Launched in May this year, the GFCS uses five components for the production, delivery and application of climate information and services.
Pickersgill told the conference that the 2009 report of the High Level Task Force on the Global Framework for Climate Services had identified that three basic facts had to be taken into account when focusing on climate information for decision-making.
“Firstly, we know that everyone is affected by climate – particularly its extremes, which cause loss of lives and livelihoods all over the world, but overwhelmingly in developing countries.
Secondly, we know that – where they exist – needs-based climate services are extremely effective in helping communities, businesses, organizations and governments to manage the risks and take advantage of the opportunities associated with the climate.
Thirdly, we know that there is a yawning gap between the needs for climate services and their current provision. Climate services are weakest in the places that need them most namely, climate-vulnerable developing countries.”
Pickersgill said that the identified climate change impacts, multiplicity of stressors, and the available scientific information all suggest that the Caribbean region is a climate change hotspot. “This presents a clear need at the national level and as a concerned region, for climate services that will help families, businesses, and communities to make informed decisions,” he said, adding there “is a clear need to promote integrated service delivery and stimulate the development of environmental technologies, applications and services in the private sector.
“The provisions of inundation mapping services, to inform decisions on sea level rise and storm activity, are critical and are urgently needed. The assistance to our farmers through modelling will help them to adapt to the changing climate through services such as drought forecasting, precipitation modelling as well as vulnerability and risk mapping.”
Pickergill said that developing countries, in particular, would be looking at the products that would inform health sector managers in responding to heat projections and the potential changes required in health services; as well as those that will inform our business leaders and national governments in investment decisions and planning.
“Pioneering climate services will enable us to make smart decisions to ensure public safety, increase our resilience, drive smart public and private sector-led infrastructural investment and stimulate economic growth,” he added.
The next national consultation on a Framework for Climate Services will be held in Barbados.