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A deal to attempt to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2C has been agreed at the climate change summit in Paris after two weeks of negotiations. The pact is the first to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions.
The agreement is partly legally binding and partly voluntary. Earlier, key blocs, including the G77 group of developing countries, and nations such as China and India said they supported the proposals.
President of the UN climate conference of parties (COP) and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said: “I now invite the COP to adopt the decision entitled Paris Agreement outlined in the document. “Looking out to the room I see that the reaction is positive, I see no objections. The Paris agreement is adopted.”
As he struck the gavel to signal the adoption of the deal, delegates rose to their feet cheering and applauding. The announcement was greeted by cheers and excitement in the hall
Nearly 200 countries have been attempting to strike the first climate deal to commit all countries to cut emissions, which would come into being in 2020.
The chairman of the group representing some of the world’s poorest countries called the deal historic, adding: “We are living in unprecedented times, which call for unprecedented measures.
“It is the best outcome we could have hoped for, not just for the Least Developed Countries, but for all citizens of the world.”
As he struck the gavel to signal the adoption of the deal, delegates rose to their feet cheering and applauding. The announcement was greeted by cheers and excitement in the hall. Nearly 200 countries have been attempting to strike the first climate deal to commit all countries to cut emissions, which would come into being.
The measures in the agreement included:
• To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century
• To keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C
• To review progress every five years
• $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.
Analysis: The BBC’s Matt McGrath in Paris
The speeches and the cliches at the adoption of the Paris Agreement flowed like good champagne – success after all has many fathers! The main emotion is relief. The influence of the COP president, Laurent Fabius, cannot be overstated. His long diplomatic career gave him a credibility seldom matched in this arena. He used his power well.
The deal that has been agreed, under Mr Fabius, is without parallel in terms of climate change or of the environment. It sets out a clear long term temperature limit for the planet and a clear way of getting there. There is money for poor countries to adapt, there is a strong review mechanism to increase ambition over time. This is key if the deal is to achieve the aim of keeping warming well below 2C.
More than anything though the deal signifies a new way for the world to achieve progress – without it costing the Earth. A long term perspective on the way we do sustainability is at the heart of this deal. If it delivers that, it truly will be world changing.
Ahead of the deal being struck, delegates were in a buoyant mood as they gathered in the hall waiting for the plenary session to resume.
Mr Fabius was applauded as he entered the hall ahead of the announcement.
Earlier, French President Francois Hollande called the proposals unprecedented, while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on negotiators to “finish the job”.
Some aspects of the agreement will be legally binding, such as submitting an emissions reduction target and the regular review of that goal.
However, the targets set by nations will not be binding under the deal struck in Paris.
Observers say the attempt to impose emissions targets on countries was one of the main reasons why the Copenhagen talks in 2009 failed.
At the time, nations including China, India and South Africa were unwilling to sign up to a condition that they felt could hamper economic growth and development.
The latest negotiations managed to avoid such an impasse by developing a system of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).
In these, which form the basis of the Paris agreement goal of keeping global temperature rise “well below” 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels, nations outline their plans on cutting their post-2020 emissions.
An assessment published during the two-week talks suggested that the emission reductions currently outlined in the INDCs submitted by countries would only limit global temperature rise by 2.7C.
Nick Mabey, chief executive of climate diplomacy organisation E3G, said the agreement was an ambitious one that would require serious political commitment to deliver.
“Paris means governments will go further and faster to tackle climate change than ever before,” he said. “The transition to a low carbon economy is now unstoppable, ensuring the end of the fossil fuel age.”
UN climate conference 30 Nov – 11 Dec 2015
Do you remember that groovy 90’s tune by Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton that goes, ““they paved paradise and put up a parking lot…took all the trees and put them in a tree museum and charged the people a dollar and a half to see ‘em.” These words ring very true in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T).
Propulsion toward the world’s generalized version of ‘development’ has seen greater emphasis on the destruction of green spaces and inclination toward skyscrapers and paved roads. This does nothing to help fight climate change. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in particular have at least four natural defences against sea level rise, storm surges, and coastal erosion – coral reefs, seagrass beds, beaches, and our mangrove forests.
We do not need concrete to survive. What we do need is clean oxygen, which is provided by green spaces. Mangroves provide a host of ecosystem services related to climate change adaptation, such as water quality maintenance/pollution control, storm protection, carbon sequestration, and protection against coastal erosion, just to name a few. So why don’t we treat these majestic trees with more respect? Green spaces in our cities are clearly vital for our continuation as a species. However, in Trinidad and Tobago mangroves in particular are disappearing at alarming rates.
According to Rianna Gonzales, National Coordinator of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network- T&T, “for our country, we thrive on the development of the coastlines and this affects our mangroves forests as they are destroyed to make way for ports and tourism-related development. On our western coast, to build one of the four oil and gas companies, mangroves were demolished. This affected beaches and coastal infrastructure which would otherwise protect T&T from some climate change impacts.”
Estimates by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) suggest that cities are responsible for 75% of global carbon emissions, with transport and buildings being among the largest contributor. At the same time, cities are also vulnerable to climate change impacts.In Port-of-Spain, the capital of T&T, mangrove forests have been ruined. Even though two of our major mangrove forests are protected by the RAMSAR Convention, they aren’t necessarily protected by enforced local law.
“We really need to move from the black and white act on the promises we made to the environment. Signatures on paper mean nothing if there is no action,” Gonzales stressed.
Cities are highly concentrated with people, cars, and buildings. They are busy with activities that need a lot of energy and therefore use more fossil fuel compared to rural areas. Many cities in the world such as Tokyo emit the carbon to as much as 62 million tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year. Tokyo has more emissions in a year than 37 countries in Africa.
Earlier this year, Paris suffered from haze masking the city’s landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. Only yesterday, Beijing raised a “red alert” warning over smog and the city, from schools to business, has gone on a shutdown to protect its people. However, local government must remember the positive outcomes of long-term engagement strategies for creating and maintaining green spaces in the city. Fossil fuel companies in T&T however, continue to rule at the end of it all.
There are already cities in the world who have started its path to sustainability. Speaking at a side event in COP21 called “Global Covenant of Mayors: Towards carbon neutral and inclusive cities”, Mayor Josefa Errazuris of the city of Providencia, Chile, shared “in order to protect our commune and the sustainability of our territory, we must have efforts to include climate change as part of policies.”
In Trinidad and Tobago, the ‘Ministry of Planning and Development’ is responsible for the environment but the addition of the word ‘Sustainable’ to the title would show dedication to mitigation and adaptation measures to climate change. In a study done by the International Development Bank in 2014, mangrove restoration was identified as a key climate adaptation strategy for T&T, so why are they still being removed from the ecosystems? If climate change adaptation is really a significant for policymakers in T&T then conservation of green spaces in our cities need to be prioritized.
After years of working with grassroots organizations in Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, I can confidently say that communities around the developing world are acutely aware of the toll climate change is taking. But it is also the case that these communities possess the knowledge and will to adapt to those impacts.
These communities have deep stores of intergenerational wisdom and knowledge about proven adaptation practices—practices that have been tested through decades through trial and error, and are an invaluable means for these communities to cope with climate hazards and uncertainties.
But if the knowledge and will are there, the resources are not—indeed, “we don’t have the resources” is far and away the single biggest obstacle these communities say is preventing them from implementing projects. This is troubling for practitioners like myself, since it means that we often have to hunt for financial resources before we can even begin the process of engaging with communities to see what actions can be taken.
Thus, the availability of financial and labor resources is crucial for adaptation projects to thrive. And while the common practice is to try to secure financial resources from external resources, it’s necessary that local resources be sought first so that communities are incentivized to take ownership over adaptation measures, as well as to ensure that these measures are fully in sync with communities’ priorities and development objectives.
But intangible resources also need to be built up—maybe the most important of these is a common approach to adaptation, one that builds off of communities’ sense of cohesion and shared purpose. Standalone initiatives that are not interlinked with wider initiatives will not be sustainable. Hence, it is crucial during the planning phase to think about how a project can draw upon and further strengthen existing community bonds and impacts of other actions.
For example, while planning projects with the Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana and Oshikoto communities in northern Namibia in 2012, the biggest asset these communities brought on the table was a well-organized approach that was glued together by a strong sense of purpose—they were all deeply committed to tackling the floods and food insecurity that were resulting from increasingly unpredictable seasonal changes.
Political goodwill must be engendered in local and central government authorities, which will help to build an enabling environment for coordinated and timely adaptation efforts. Yet communities often perceive state and local institutions as counterproductive to their adaptation efforts. This distrust has to be overcome by being accountable and transparent about resources allocated for community level adaptation projects within national budgets and programmes. It is integral for community adaptation projects to have a clear connection with national laws, regulations, unwritten bylaws and accepted norms, all of which can be invaluable in rallying communities to effectively adapt.
The COP21 conference and climate change agreement is an incredible opportunity to globally tackle the threat of climate change, to reduce carbon emissions and to prevent this challenge from severely damaging the lives and livelihoods of billions. However, the Paris agreement must also be an opportunity to support those who are already feeling the impact of climate change, and to facilitate access to resources that enable adaptation. This is especially important given the fact that funding and investments from the private sector tend to favor mitigation projects and middle income countries. We must make sure that Paris goes the last mile and supports all people, especially the most vulnerable.
“Combatting climate change, promoting sustainable development and addressing the vulnerabilities of SIDS will demand partnership, capacity and leadership,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who recalled that the SAMOA Pathway is here “to guide us.”
Last year’s Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa increased global attention on their contributions to sustainable development – but also on their unique vulnerabilities, Mr. Ban reminded to the Council members, who were meeting for an unprecedented debate about the situation of these countries.
From traditional armed conflict to transnational crime and piracy, illicit exploitation of natural resources, climate change and climate-related natural disasters and uneven development, small island developing States face a range of peace and security challenges, according to the concept note provided by New Zealand, which holds the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for the month of July.
Caribbean SIDS, for example, are vulnerable to drug-trafficking and gang-related violence, noted the Secretary-General, while unreported and unregulated fishing undermine local economies. Through its Maritime Crime Programme, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is actively engaged to help these countries in these areas.
“Taken together with the broader vulnerabilities faced by many of these States communities, these challenges can disproportionately affect national stability, fuel conflict across regions and ultimately have an impact on the maintenance of international peace and security,” adds the Security Council concept note.
For the Secretary-General, the first priority must be to support these States in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
“Second, we need a post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals that address the needs of SIDS,” he continued.
At the recent Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, which took place from July 13 to 16, it was encouraging that the concerns of [that group of countries] were reflected, including in critical areas such as debt, trade, technology and Official Development Assistance, Mr. Ban noted.
“Third, we need a meaningful and universal global climate agreement in Paris in December,” stressed the UN chief, as small island developing States are on the front lines of climate change.
“Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu is only the latest in a long string of devastation that SIDS have endured and will continue to endure as long as climate change is not adequately addressed,” he warned, underscoring that Caribbean countries sometimes experience as many as five hurricanes in a season.
Rising sea levels, dying coral reefs and the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters exacerbate the conditions leading to community displacement and migration, threatening to increase tensions over resources and affect domestic and regional stability, the Secretary-General went on to say.
“Leading by example,” many of these countries have been accelerating their own transition to renewable energy to secure a sustainable energy future. But, to support SIDS in their actions to combat climate change and adapt to its impacts, “a politically credible trajectory for mobilizing the pledged $100 billion dollars per year by 2020” is needed, he explained.
The Green Climate Fund will need to be up and running before the Climate Conference in Paris in December, but a “meaningful, universal climate agreement” must be adopted, concluded the Secretary-General.
Credit: UN News Centre
The journalists and artistes, including Jamaica’s Aaron Silk, are complemented by participants from St Lucia’s Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science, and Technology – another partner in the workshop.
“The workshop is a prep meeting for Paris, pulling together a range of stakeholders, including popular artistes and journalists with the aim to come up with a strategy to bring attention to the small island position of ‘1.5 degrees to stay alive’,” said Indi Mclymont Lafayette, country coordinator and programme director with Panos.
“We really want to ensure that if an agreement is signed in Paris, it is one that won’t mean the death of small islands in the long run,” she added.
The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), including CARICOM, have as far back as the Copenhagen Talks in 2009, called for a long-term goal to “limit global average temperatures to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to long-term stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations to well below 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent”.
At the time, science adviser to AOSIS Dr Al Binger predicted that given sea-level rise, residents of small island states would eventually have to ‘swim for it’.
“We need to improve our boat-building art [and] teach our kids to swim because sooner or later, we are going to have to swim for it,” he said.
Speaking more recently at the French Embassy-hosted climate change debate in Kingston this year, physicist and head of the Climate Studies Group Mona, Dr Michael Taylor, painted a grim picture for a Caribbean in a world where average global temperatures exceed 1.5 degrees.
According to Taylor, the two degrees advanced by developed country partners may prove “too much for us to deal with”, given warmer days and nights and more variable rainfall, among other impacts,now being experienced.
Meanwhile, Mclymont Lafayette said the workshop – having educated artistes about climate change and journalists on reporting on it – would seek to craft a communication plan to bring a broader set of stakeholders up to date as to what is at stake for the region.
“We are looking at a strategy over the next few months of some of the things that could be done. [These include] the journalists to report on climate change; the artistes to use their performing platforms and media interviews to bring attention to the issues and the negotiators to work in tandem with them,” she said.
“It would be good if we could have an awareness campaign leading up to Paris and also while in Paris, have a side event that would really capture a lot of the issues and provide a gateway for hearing or having good discussions on the impacts on the islands,”Mclymont Lafayette added.
The workshop – done with co-financing from Climate Analytics, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre – forms a part of a larger Panos project for which they continue to fundraise.
That project aims promote civil society involvement in the discourse on climate change in the region, through, among other things, facilitating their participation in the upcoming Paris Talks.
Credit: Jamaica Gleaner
Today's featured post is Food Security, Small-scale Women Farmers and Climate Change in Caribbean SIDS by Nidhi Tandon, Consultant, UN Women Director Networked Intelligence for Development.
Also read Working Paper No. 114 – Opportunities for Advancing Women’s Sustainable and Green Livelihoods Food Security, Small-scale Women Farmers and Climate Change in Caribbean SIDS by Ms Tandon. The paper was published by the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth, which is jointly supported by the United Nations Development Programme and the Government of Brazil.
Both long-term climate change and immediate-term economic crises are bringing the issue of food security into sharper relief, particularly in those Caribbean countries where food security is already volatile and faces a series of risks and challenges. Climate change, in particular, adds urgency to the call for renewed focus, prioritisation and integrated adaptation approaches to natural resource management, land use policies and long-term macro-economic frameworks and where these intersect.
Through participatory research and interviews with women in farming communities in Dominica and Antigua, Tandon (2013) argues for small-scale, ecologically sensitive farming and fishing as a critical way to anchor local food security of rural populations, shelter domestic food markets and secure the natural bio-diversity of Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Women play a core role in articulating what food security looks like to them—and have a keen appetite for peer-to-peer networks of training, technical knowledge sharing and distribution of information to support sustainable livelihoods and the long-term viability of their communities.
Women involved in farming and fishing alike are important contributors to both national and household food security, though unrecognised, unvalued and undervalued in a sector that is still one of the most depressed sectors in society. Representatives of both these constituencies expressed consistent concerns about their food security, defined less by consumer considerations and more by production capacity and maximised nutritional content.
When asked about climate change in the context of their local environments, women shared their personal experiences and perspectives based on daily and seasonal activities. They framed the issue around timescales of immediate needs and seasonal harvest cycles. In interviews and conversations it is apparent that their understanding and articulation of the phenomenon of climate change is inexact, one common observation being the unprecedented seasonal changes and the difficulty of relying on weather patterns. However, none of the farmers interviewed drew a link between climate change, rises in sea level, increases in sea surface temperatures, coral bleaching or coastal erosion. Unlike the Pacific islands, where the rise in sea level is visible and immediate, in the Caribbean islands this change is not yet recognised as such—what is most salient is the recurrence of climate induced storms. The human and social dimensions of climate change are yet to be fully developed and understood in this Caribbean context.
In the country studies, challenges facing agriculture remain: finance, land availability, local or regional marketing infrastructure and labour costs. The societal stigma attached to farming is changing—and there is now a generation of young professionals (women and men) returning to the primary sector as the new income security. What is not quite clear is whether these e security. orung professiona security concerns and/or whether there is a genuine desire to learn about farming and a less resource-consumptive approach.
The economic crisis and its lingering effects have forced a transition to alternatives and a return to multi-source income approach to livelihoods. This opportunity for more positive investment and attitudinal shifts towards farming and fishing clearly exists but needs additional support for adaptation to, and management of, climate change. Survey participants in Dominica identified concurrent action to combat climate change on three fronts (Table). Furthermore, gender concerns are still peripheral to discussions on livelihoods and climate change. The mix of climate change, livelihoods and cyclical crises has largely had negative effects on livelihoods and well-being. Calls for consistent attention to the needs of both men and women, particularly in vulnerable rural communities, are an obvious part of the solution. Political will and leadership to ensure that each country’s economic development is inter-locked with environmental and gender issues is needed more than ever.
In 2013, agricultural thinking in the region still continues to be dominated by preserving a commodity-based agriculture value-chain framed by trade preferences. “While various attempts have been undertaken to harness the capacity for domestic consumption or to turn crops or agricultural waste into bio-ethanol, as yet none of this is about creating regional food security” (Jessop, D. (2009).
Concurrent Action on Three Fronts
(a) Restoration and Regeneration Plans
Halting degradation through unlearning destructive processes and relearning restorative processes: “we have to stop raping the soil” by over‐exploiting it, over‐fertilising it and using bad rotation practices (Hans Herren quoted in IFAD 2009)
b) Sustainability and Viability Plans
Adapting cultivation and harvesting methods to local contexts in ways that enhance the diversity of the local gene pool and local food and water sources
(c) Contingency and Strategic Plans
Protection for the future and for future generations, includes:
- conservation of forests and watersheds;
- preservation of seed varieties;
- fishing methods that promote long‐term fish stocks; and
- sequestering soil carbon to enhance future productivity.
It combines risk reduction with the creation of safety nets and contingency plans for smallholder farmers.
Reference: Jessop, D. (2009).‘The View From Europe: Caribbean Agriculture & Food Security’, Shridath Ramphal Centre website, 11 May 2009, Note: IFAD 2009 Proceedings of the Governing Council Round Tables in Conjunction with the Thirty-second Session of IFAD’s Governing Council, February 2009.
The 32nd Session of the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee (JISC) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has ended. Mr Carlos Fuller, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre’s International and Regional Liaison Officer, participated in the recently concluded (June 17 and 18) event in Bonn, Germany. Mr Fuller functioned as the alternate member of the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Group (GRULAC).
The JISC is chaired by Mr Derreck Oderson of Barbados, who is also the substantive member of the Small Island States (SIDS) grouping. JISC is the body established by the meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) to provide oversight over joint implementation (JI) projects. Joint Implementation is one of the flexibility mechanisms established by the Kyoto Protocol that enables carbon credits to be generated by investments in projects, which reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in developed countries. The CDM on the other hand, generates credits by implementing projects in developing countries.
At present there are two tracks that countries can use to implement JI projects. Under Track 1, the host country supervises all aspects of the project. If a country decides to utilize the Track 2 approach, the project is supervised by the JISC which has the authority to approve and reject projects if it does not meet prescribed criteria.
During the past year and at this session the JISC has been drafting recommendations for the CMP to improve the efficiency of the carbon market. Among the recommendations it will make in Warsaw, Poland are:
- To have one track for JI projects,
- To establish an international accreditation system for the entire carbon market,
- To set mandatory guidance for countries hosting JI projects, and
- To develop measures for the establishment of emission baselines and procedures to demonstrate additionality.
These recommendations will be finalized at the next session of the JISC scheduled to be held in Bonn in late September 2013.
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the German Financial Cooperation (KfW) signed a wide-ranging aide–mémoire last Friday evening, paving the way for the development of a €12.27 million programme, which will seek to reduce the climate change induced risks facing the Caribbean’s coastal population.
The approximately six year Ecosystem-Based Approaches for Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Zones of Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean (EBACC) programme, which is slated to start later this year, will be implemented in Saint Lucia, Saint. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Jamaica.
The programme will have two main components: (i) Investments in sustainable improvements of coastal ecosystems relevant for climate change adaptation, and (ii) knowledge management, project support and monitoring. Under the first component, the programme aims to invest in measures related to protection and sustainable management, rehabilitation or substitution, and monitoring of coastal ecosystems in an effort to assist the participating countries to mitigate climate change induced risks to livelihoods and development prospects. Investments under this component will include, among others, the purchase of equipment directly related to marine protected areas (MPAs) management, reforestation, slope stabilization, coral reef restoration, construction of artificial reefs and break water.
Under Component 2 of the programme, assistance will be provided to the countries in the preparation and implementation of the local adaptation measures, monitoring of project goals and impacts, and the systematization and dissemination of project experiences. The Centre’s Resource Senior Economist and Head, Programme Development and Management Unit, Dr. Mark Bynoe, who along with Senior Programme Development Specialist Keith Nichols led the Centre’s engagement with KfW, notes that the “measures to be pursued under this component will include the harmonization of monitoring methods and the implementation of a monitoring system for the project that will complement the overall monitoring, evaluation and reporting system being developed for the IP”.
Dr. Bynoe notes that “these four participating countries were selected because the programme seeks to establish synergies with the Caribbean’s Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR). However, mainly because of the limited financing not all the participating Caribbean PPCR countries will be involved in EBACC. The KfW and CCCCC were advised by the consultants conducting the diagnostic studies for this programme, that the greatest net returns on investments are likely to be gained through investing in the countries selected.” Dr. Bynoe adds that the programme’s focus complements priority areas within the Implementation Plan of the Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change that was approved by CARICOM Heads of Government in Match 2012 in Suriname.
Specifically, it will address Strategic Elements 2 and 4 in the IP that seeks to “promote the implementation of specific adaptation measures to address key vulnerabilities in the region” and “encouraging action to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems in CARICOM countries to the impacts of a changing climate” respectively.
Executive Director of the CCCCC, Dr. Kenrick Leslie, says “the EBACC programme is part of the implementing phase of the landmarkRegional Strategic Framework to address climate change”. The programme, which will be funded by the German government to the tune of €10.8 million and €1.47 million from the Centre and participating countries through a mix of in-kind and financial support, will operate under a facility approach. This arrangement will allow both governmental and non-governmental institutions in the four participating countries to seek funding for Local Adaptation Measures (LAM).
The agreement signed by the Centre’s Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie, CBE and KfW’s Sector Economist Dr. Josef Haider marks the successful conclusion of KfW’s appraisal mission (March 7-March 17, 2013), which included meetings in Jamaica and St. Lucia with government officials and non-governmental leaders who are directly engaged in climate change adaptation initiatives.