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“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
As the highly anticipated Climate Change Conference begins today in Paris, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) lead Head on Climate Change and Sustainable Development is issuing a grave warning.
St. Lucia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony says that “unless we can get the countries that are the major emitters of greenhouse gases to commit to more ambitious reductions, the Caribbean will be confronted with more extreme storms and hurricanes, more frequent and prolonged droughts, dangerous sea-level rise that will wash away roads, homes, hotels, and ports in every island; greater food insecurity and more acidic oceans that will kill our corals, damage our fish stock and negatively impact our tourism industries.”
Heads of State and Government, Ministers responsible for the Environment, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Scientists and other stakeholders are coming together in Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) to negotiate a new global climate change agreement.
Credit: ZIZ Online
Barack Obama aims for reduction of a quarter or more by 2025, while Xi Jinping sets goal for emissions to fall after 2030
The United States and China have unveiled a secretly negotiated deal to reduce their greenhouse gas output, with China agreeing to cap emissions for the first time and the US committing to deep reductions by 2025.
The pledges in an agreement struck between President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jingping, provide an important boost to international efforts to reach a global deal on reducing emissions beyond 2020 at a United Nations meeting in Paris next year.
China, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, has agreed to cap its output by 2030 or earlier if possible. Previously China had only ever pledged to reduce the rapid rate of growth in its emissions. Now it has also promised to increase its use of energy from zero-emission sources to 20% by 2030.
The United States has pledged to cut its emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025.
Speaking at a joint press conference at the Great Hall of the People, Obama said: “As the world’s largest economies and greatest emitters of greenhouse gases we have special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change. I am proud we can announce a historic agreement. I commend President Xi, his team and the Chinese government for their making to slow, peak and then reverse China’s carbon emissions.”
He said the US emissions reductions goal was “ambitious but achievable” and would double the pace at which it is reducing carbon emissions.
“This is a major milestone in US-China relations and shows what is possible when we work together on an urgent global challenge.”
He added that they hoped “to encourage all major economies to be ambitious and all developed and developing countries to work across divides” so that an agreement could be reached at the climate change talks in Paris in December next year.
Xi Jinping said: “We agreed to make sure international climate change negotiations will reach agreement as scheduled at the Paris conference in 2015 and agreed to deepen practical co-operation on clean energy, environmental protection and other areas.”
China’s target to expand energy from zero-emission sources to around 20% by 2030 was “notable”, a White House statement said. “It will require China to deploy an additional 800-1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero-emission generation capacity by 2030 – more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to total current electricity generation capacity in the United States.”
The UN’s climate chief, Christiana Figueres, said: “These two crucial countries have today announced important pathways towards a better and more secure future for humankind.”
Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, urged other countries to show their hand on emissions cuts: “We welcome the announcement today by the presidents of the United States and China on their respective post-2020 actions on climate change.
“The announcements to date cover around half of the global emissions. We urge others, especially the G20 members, to announce their targets in the first half of 2015 and transparently. Only then we can assess together if our collective efforts will allow us to fulfil the goal of keeping global temperature increases well below 2C.”
The new US goal will double the pace of carbon pollution reduction, though the Republican-controlled Congress is likely to oppose Obama’s climate change efforts.
The US Senate’s new Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, was quick to criticise the Beijing pact. “This unrealistic plan, that the president would dump on his successor, would ensure higher utility rates and far fewer jobs,” he said.
Administration officials argue the new target is achievable under existing laws.
Frances Beinecke, president of US-based environmental group the Natural Resources Defence Council, said: “These landmark commitments to curtail carbon pollution are a necessary, critical step forward in the global fight against climate change. We look forward to working with both governments to strengthen their efforts because we are confident that both can achieve even greater reductions.”
Senior US administration officials said the commitments, the result of months of dialogue between the world’s top two carbon emitters, would encourage other nations to make pledges and deliver “a shot of momentum” into negotiations for a new global agreement set to go into force in 2020.
Tao Wang, climate scholar at the Tsinghua-Carnegie Center for Global Policy in Beijing, said: “It is a very good sign for both countries and injects strong momentum [into negotiations] but the targets are not ambitious enough and there is room for both countries to negotiate an improvement.
“That figure isn’t high because China aims to reach about 15% by 2020, so it is only a five percentage point increase in 10 years, and given the huge growth in renewables it should be higher.”
Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, which promotes sustainable resource management, said the announcements would “inject a jolt of momentum in the lead up to a global climate agreement in Paris”.
“It’s a new day to have the leaders of the US and China stand shoulder to shoulder and make significant commitments to curb their country’s emissions,” he said.
Li Shuo, of Greenpeace East Asia, said the announcement showed that the world’s “two biggest emitters have come to the realisation that they are bound together and have to take actions together”.
At the Warsaw climate talks in 2013 nations were encouraged to draw up post-2020 climate plans by the first quarter of 2015, ahead of the final negotiations for a post-2020 global pact late in the year.
The White House statement said: “Together the US and China account for over one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s joint announcement, the culmination of months of bilateral dialogue, highlights the critical role the two countries must play in addressing climate change.
“The actions they announced are part of the longer range effort to achieve the deep decarbonisation of the global economy over time. These actions will also inject momentum into the global climate negotiations on the road to reaching a successful new climate agreement next year in Paris.”
Credit: The Guardian
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just published its latest Working Group II report detailing impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability associated with climate change. The highly anticipated report paints a bleak picture with respect to the consequences of continued climate change. The latest IPCC report predicts future food and water supply insecurities, and calls for both mitigation and adaptation.
Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Rajendra K. Pachauri says he hopes the report on the rising threat of climate change will “jolt people into action”. The report found the strongest evidence of climate change in the thawing permafrost in the Arctic and in the destruction of coral reefs. It found many freshwater and marine species had shifted their geographical range due to climate change. But the report said climate change was growing more evident in human systems as well, where it posed a series of risks. Climate change was already beginning to affect crop yields, especially for wheat and maize, and the report says that yields could decline sharply towards the middle of the century.
The scientists found climate change was a driver of violent conflicts and migration, and was exacerbating inequality, making it harder for people to claw their way out of poverty. Climate change was also a factor in the rise of mega-disasters. The report said climate change was driving recent heatwaves and droughts, and was a risk factor for wildfires.
The latest IPCC report: FIVE Key Points
1. Food threat
Climate change is already taking a sizeable chunk out of global food supply and it is going to get worse. Increases in crop yields – which are needed to sustain a growing population – have slowed over the last 40 years. Some studies now point to dramatic declines in some crops over the next 50 years – especially wheat, and to a lesser extent corn. Rice so far is unaffected. The shortages, and the threat of food price spikes, could lead to unrest.
2. Human security
Climate change poses a threat to human security, and could lead to increased migration. Potential shortages of food and water, because of climate change, could be drivers of future conflicts. These won't necessarily be wars between states, but conflicts between farmers and ranchers, or between cities and agriculture industry which wants water for food. On the flip side, those conflicts are going to get in the way of government's efforts to protect people from future climate change.
Some are more vulnerable than others. Poor people in poor countries – and even the poor in rich countries – are going to bear an unfair burden of climate change, the report said. Climate change is going to exacerbate existing inequalities, and it is going to make it harder for people to claw their way out of poverty.
4. No-one is safe
As temperatures rise beyond 2 degrees to 4 degrees – our current trajectory – there are limits to how far society can adapt to climate change. The only way out is to cut emissions now – and buy some time by slowing warming – and at the same time make plans for sea walls, relocations, and other measures that can keep people out of harms' way.
5. Hard but not hopeless.
The report notes that research on the effects of climate change has doubled since the last report in 2007 – and so has understanding about what needs to done to insulate people from more severe consequences.
As the world digests the sobering findings of the latest installment of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a reminder of what the panel is designed to do: To inform policy decisions, including the negotiations towards the UN global climate change agreement in Paris in 2015. See this and other infographics at http://bit.ly/1ggttKT
Credit: The UK Guardian and The IPCC
Today, Friday, 21 March 2014, marks the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. As we celebrate the landmark Convention and the investment in its implementation over the last two decades, Caribbean Climate, the region’s premier climate change focused blog, asked Carlos Fuller, a long-standing Caribbean negotiator who now functions as the International and Regional Liaison Officer at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, to reflect on this milestone. His comments are featured below.
Having been involved in the climate change negotiation process since its inception, I look back at the past 20 years with mixed emotions. I have witnessed first-hand the assimilation of vague ideas on the elements of a climate change agreement which were crafted into a Convention with perhaps too rigid elements that have hindered the actions required to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases instead of facilitating a process which would have produced the change in productive and consumption patterns to address the causes of climate change. Nevertheless, a series of decisions including the development and adoption of the Kyoto Protocol provided the impetus for a small group of countries to reduce their emissions and have raised the awareness among a significant segment of the population that the world must take action to cope with a changing climate.
The Caribbean has certainly benefited from the process. All CARICOM States are now aware of the threat climate change poses to the region. Institutional processes have been established in the region in response to the threat including the establishment of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre which is mandated to coordinate the region’s response to climate change, the development of a Master of Science programme in climate change in CEREMES at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies and the creation of the Climate Change Impacts Group at the Moina Campus of UWI among others. The region has attracted over US$100 million in funding to enhance its capacity to address climate change, to assess the impacts of climate change on the region, to asses the region’s vulnerability and to undertake action to reduce that vulnerability. Unfortunately, the region has emulated the example of the international community and has not undertaken the transformational changes that will make the region resilient to climate change.
The region and the international community have another chance to get it right. The global community has embarked on a process to develop a new climate change agreement which should be finalized in Paris in December 2015 and which will come into effect in 2020. That agreement must stimulate all countries to contribute to an international effort to drastically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and provide the financial and technical support to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The next two years will be especially crucial as the international community seeks to craft a global agreement that involves all actors (developed, developing, LDC’s etc.) in a massive effort to keep global temperature increase below the 2 deg. C mark and for the capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund at a level that ensures adequate resources are available to allow significant implementation of Adaptation measures in CARICOM and other developing countries.
About the SIDS Sustainable Energy and Climate Resilient Initiative – SIDS DOCK
SIDS DOCK Institutional Mechanism
SIDS DOCK is a SIDS–SIDS institutional mechanism established in 2009 to facilitate the development of a sustainable energy economy within the small island developing states. SIDS DOCK serves as a “docking station” to increase SIDS access to international financing, technical expertise and technology, as well as a link to the multi-billion dollar European and US carbon markets.
SIDS DOCK Goals
The goals of SIDS DOCK are to mobilize in excess of USD 10-20 Billion, by 2033, to help finance the transformation of the SIDS Energy Sector to achieve a 25 percent (2005 baseline) increase in energy efficiency, generation of a minimum of 50 percent of electric power from renewable sources, and a 25 percent decrease in conventional transportation fuel use, in order to enable climate change adaptation in SIDS.
SIDS DOCK Mission
SIDS DOCK Mission is to catalyze the transformation of the energy sector of SIDS to increase energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and generate resources for investment in adaptation to climate. Some SIDS governments have announced more ambitious goals for the reduction of fossil fuel use in order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By providing SIDS with a dedicated and flexible mechanism to pursue sustainable energy, SIDS DOCK will make it easier for SIDS Development Partners to invest across multiple island States, and to more frequently reach investment scale that can be of interest to commercial global financing.
SIDS DOCK Functions
SIDS DOCK has four principal functions:
A mechanism to help SIDS develop low carbon economies that generate the financial resources to invest in climate change adaptation
Assist SIDS transition to a sustainable energy sector, by increasing energy efficiency and conservation, and development of renewable energy;
Providing a vehicle for mobilizing financial and technical resources to catalyse clean economic growth;
Provide SIDS with a mechanism for connecting with the global carbon market (“DOCKing”) and taking advantage of the resource transfer possibilities that will be afforded.
SIDS DOCK Funding
In December 2010, in Cancun, Mexico, SIDS DOCK received a one-year grant of USD14.5 million in start-up contributions from the Government of Denmark, followed a grant of USD 15 million over two years (2012-2014) from the Government of Japan in December 2011, in Durban, South Africa.
President Donald Ramotar lauded the work of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC) during his presentation today, to CARICOM Heads of Government during their 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting at the Buccament Bay Resort, Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Leaders agreed to establish a CARICOM Climate Change Task Force to provide guidance to Caribbean climate change negotiators, their Ministers and the region’s political leaders. The CCCCC, along with the CARICOM Secretariat has been tasked with setting up the task force and facilitating its work.
Guyana has been playing a lead role with regards to climate change, and priority projects on adaptation are outlined within its visionary Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which seeks to address the effects of climate change while simultaneously encouraging economic development.
The CARICOM Heads also reaffirmed the mandate of the CCCCC, to develop in partnership with member states, a portfolio of bankable projects eligible for climate financing and which is to be presented to the donor community for support.
The Centre is recognised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean.
“This is a critical decision by Heads at a time when efforts are underway through the UN (United Nations) to have a global climate change agreement by the end of 2015. We need to ensure that as a region, our voices are being heard on this important issue, and not only from our technical people, but from the collective political leadership in the region,” President Ramotar noted.
He re-emphasised the need for there to be a globally binding agreement on climate change.
“We have to ensure that we push for a climate change agreement by 2015 which is ambitious in terms of emission reduction targets and providing climate financing,” the Head of State said.
He also stressed that, despite the difficulties faced with climate financing and support for adaptation and climate resilience, the region needs to aggressively tap into opportunities that exist now, while it organises for future possibilities.
The President noted that the CCCCC and Guyana have been working closely since its establishment and closer ties are being developed as part of the LCDS implementation.
The CCCCC coordinates the Caribbean region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and on the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change in the Caribbean, its website states.
On June 8, 2009 former President Bharrat Jagdeo launched the LCDS that outlines Guyana’s vision to promote economic development, while at the same time combating climate change. A revised version was published on May 24, 2010 and subsequently the LCDS update was launched in March 2013.
Major efforts have been taken to build the country’s capacity to adapt to the anticipated impacts of climate, including extreme weather patterns and sea-level rise leading to flooding.
The LCDS will support the upgrading of infrastructure and assets to protect against flooding through urgent, near-term measures. Specifically, the LCDS update, identified the project area “Climate Resilience, Adaptation and Water Management Initiatives” for which up to US$100 million will be allocated to improve Guyana’s capacity to address climate change.
Published by: GINA and Kaieteur News.
Dr Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, and a senior strategic advisor to Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), outlines the tremendous opportunities for climate compatible development in the region in a featured Op-Ed published by CDKN Global.
The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean have made significant strides in responding to a changing and variable climate. However, the dissonance between climate change time horizons and immediate development needs and priorities as articulated by public policy-makers pose a primary challenge to the region’s efforts to achieve low emissions, build resilience and promote development simultaneously. Specifically, climate change projections are often expressed in timeframes ( 5 years, 50 years, 100 years) that have little or no relation to the routine development planning timeframes (5 years, 10 years, 30 years) used by the public policy-makers and the expectations of the general public.
This challenge exists alongside the peculiarities associated with multi-country policy-making, hazards of our small size, geography, and limited resources that often impedes ambitious and decisive action. Given this mix of challenges, it’s crucial that the region frames climate change responses such that they’re viewed as urgent and integral for development imperatives such as poverty reduction, debt-servicing, and growth.
The efficacy of this approach is typified by Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ strong commitment to make climate change a priority during his chairmanship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) immediately after the unprecedented weather event that ravaged the Eastern Caribbean in December 2013. In declaring climate change as a key focus of his six month chairmanship of the regional block, Dr Gonsalves noted “we are having systems affecting us outside of the normal rainy season and the normal hurricane season,” which underscores the importance of showing the link between existing weather events and climate projections across time-horizons. Dr Gonsalves’s realisation of this link will allow him to bring a sense of urgency to the XXV Intersessional Meeting of the Heads of Government where climate change will feature prominently in the discussions.
In our quest to forge a climate resilient development pathway, the Caribbean has been tackling the primary challenge of aligning the comparatively distant time horizons of climate projections with more immediate development objectives and political considerations in a multi-country policy-making context. The Heads of Government of CARICOM endorsed the Liliendaal Declaration on Climate Change and Development in 2009, which defines the positions of Member States, and approved “A Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change”. The Regional Framework and its associated Implementation Plan (approved in March 2012), both of which were prepared by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre with support from CDKN, specifies actions and timeframes that complements some of the political time horizons and specific development objectives.
The development of the Caribbean Climate Risk Management Framework and its associated Caribbean Climate Online Risk Assessment TooL (CCORAL) is a direct response to one of the actions defined in the Regional Framework. Climate risk management tools like CCORAL with cross-sectorial applicability are crucial elements of the region’s emerging strong early action framework for building climate resilience and advancing our development objectives.