Inter Press ServiceCaribbean Climate Wire – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Wed, 19 Dec 2018 06:39:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.8 It is Imperative for the Caribbean to Have a Seat at the COP24 Negotiating Tablehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/imperative-caribbean-seat-cop24-negotiating-table/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=imperative-caribbean-seat-cop24-negotiating-table http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/imperative-caribbean-seat-cop24-negotiating-table/#respond Wed, 28 Nov 2018 13:45:41 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158904 The Caribbean will not be left out of the negotiations at COP24 – the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – that will take place from Dec. 3 to 14 in Katowice, Poland. The event will be attended by nearly 30,000 delegates from all […]

The post It is Imperative for the Caribbean to Have a Seat at the COP24 Negotiating Table appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Rising sea levels have resulted in the relocation of houses and erection of this sea defence in Layou, a town in southwestern St. Vincent. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

By Desmond Brown
ST. GEORGE’S, Nov 28 2018 (IPS)

The Caribbean will not be left out of the negotiations at COP24 – the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – that will take place from Dec. 3 to 14 in Katowice, Poland.

The event will be attended by nearly 30,000 delegates from all over the world, including heads of governments and ministers responsible for the environment and climate issues.

Two of the region’s lead negotiators say the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) must be present, given that the plan for the COP24 summit to adopt a full package implementing the Paris Agreement.

“I agree with the saying that if you’re not at the table then you’re on the menu, and our priorities will suffer. We’ve got to be there to ensure that the special circumstances and unique vulnerabilities of small island states are protected. We need to be there for that,” Spencer Thomas, Grenada’s Special Envoy for Multilateral Environmental Agreements, told IPS.

“I think we need to be there to ensure that the resources are available to address the scourge of climate change, to build resilience in the Caribbean region. We need to be there to ensure that significant mitigation actions are taken in line with the 1.5 report. We need to be there to ensure that adaptation efforts are of the level to ensure that we have real activities on that line.”

The Paris Agreement is the first international agreement in history, which compels all countries in the world to take action on climate protection. The implementation package will allow for the implementation of the agreement in practice. It will thus set global climate and energy policy for the coming years.

Thomas pointed to recent devastating hurricanes and their impact on the region, saying the Caribbean must attend the COP to work towards resilience building, to make progress on; the issue of loss and damage, and the issue of technology development, especially since it relates to the changing energy sector.

“So, we need to be there to protect all of those gains that we have made so far and to consolidate our actions going forward in terms of climate action for the Caribbean,” he said.

“Resilience is key. Building resilience across the Caribbean or across all Small Island Developing States is a key issue we need to be working on at the COP.”

Thomas said the Paris Agreement is a framework agreement, setting out the platform for global action on climate change.

He said the Paris Agreement deals specifically with the framework for mitigation, but also has a framework for adaptation, a framework for loss and damage, a framework for gender, a framework for agriculture, one for transparency, and it also has a technology framework.

“In my view, what needs to be done now is for us to elaborate and to implement those frameworks and to create the rules and guidelines for those frameworks,” Thomas explains.

“So, in a sense, it is the platform for going forward. It changed the dynamics of the previous negotiations and it has centralised the issues, to the extent that all parties now, all countries have taken a commitment based on their own domestic situation to deal with the issue of climate change.”

Meanwhile, Leon Charles, Advisor in Grenada’s Ministry of Environment, said there are two outcomes that will result from the 2018 negotiations.

He said the first is the elaboration of the framework for implementation of the Paris Agreement.

“The last two years we spent elaborating on what are these day-to-day rules to implement the agreement. So, for example, in terms of the national contributions of countries, we’re negotiating how should these contributions be defined; what information should be presented so that we can actually measure that people have done what they said they are going to do. Then how do you report on what you said you’re going to do, how is it validated and so on,” Charles told IPS.

“There’s a system called the compliance system for example, how do we measure whether or not countries have delivered what they said they were going to deliver, and more importantly, what’s going to happen to those who have not met their targets. We’re supposed to come up with something that’s facilitative and should help them in future years to improve their targets.”

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa says with the devastating impacts of climate change increasingly evident throughout the world, it’s crucial that parties achieve the primary goal of the COP24: finalising the Paris Agreement Work Programme.

This will not only unleash the full potential of the Paris Agreement, but send a signal of trust that nations are serious about addressing climate change, she said.

Like Thomas, Charles agrees that it is important that the Caribbean is represented at the COP24.

“If we want to be successful and get the 2018 outputs to reflect what’s important for us, we have to participate,” he said.

The post It is Imperative for the Caribbean to Have a Seat at the COP24 Negotiating Table appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/imperative-caribbean-seat-cop24-negotiating-table/feed/ 0
VIDEO: On the way to COP24 – The Caribbean Will Not be Left Outhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/video-way-cop24-caribbean-will-not-left/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=video-way-cop24-caribbean-will-not-left http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/video-way-cop24-caribbean-will-not-left/#respond Sat, 24 Nov 2018 12:06:15 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158847 As the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – is set to take place from December 3-14 in Katowice, Poland, the Caribbean insists on a seat at the table of negations. Two of the region’s lead negotiators say the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) must be present. Pointing to recent […]

The post VIDEO: On the way to COP24 – The Caribbean Will Not be Left Out appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
Residents on the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada say they have been building back better in the wake of devastating hurricanes in recent years. Local climate change experts are hoping to advance on the Paris Climate Agreement at the upcoming 24th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change. COP24 will be held in Katowice, Poland from December 3-14

By Desmond Brown
GRENADA, Nov 24 2018 (IPS)

As the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – is set to take place from December 3-14 in Katowice, Poland, the Caribbean insists on a seat at the table of negations.

Two of the region’s lead negotiators say the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) must be present. Pointing to recent devastating hurricanes and their impact on the region, they say the Caribbean must attend the COP to work towards resilience building, to make progress on the issue of loss and damage, and to make progress on the issue of technology development, especially for as it relates to the changing energy sector.

 

 

The post VIDEO: On the way to COP24 – The Caribbean Will Not be Left Out appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/video-way-cop24-caribbean-will-not-left/feed/ 0
The Caribbean Island of Mayreau Could be Split in Two Thanks to Erosionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/caribbean-island-mayreau-split-two-thanks-erosion/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=caribbean-island-mayreau-split-two-thanks-erosion http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/caribbean-island-mayreau-split-two-thanks-erosion/#respond Tue, 06 Nov 2018 14:46:05 +0000 Kenton X. Chance http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158552 As a child growing up in Mayreau four decades ago, Filius “Philman” Ollivierre remembers a 70-foot-wide span of land, with the sea on either side that made the rest of the 1.5-square mile island one with Mount Carbuit.  But now, after years of erosion by the waves, he, and the other 300 or so persons […]

The post The Caribbean Island of Mayreau Could be Split in Two Thanks to Erosion appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

On the other side of Windward Carenage Bay is Salt Whistle Bay on the Caribbean Sea coast. The world famous beach attracts visitors to the Mayreau, where tourism is a main stay of the economy. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

By Kenton X. Chance
KINGSTOWN, Nov 6 2018 (IPS)

As a child growing up in Mayreau four decades ago, Filius “Philman” Ollivierre remembers a 70-foot-wide span of land, with the sea on either side that made the rest of the 1.5-square mile island one with Mount Carbuit. 

But now, after years of erosion by the waves, he, and the other 300 or so persons living on Mayreau, are confronted with the real possibility that the sea will split their island in two, and destroy its world famous Salt Whistle Bay.

At its widest part, the sliver of land that separates the placid waters of the Caribbean Sea at Salt Whistle Bay from the choppy Atlantic Ocean, on Windward Carenage Bay, is now just about 20 feet.

“There is a rise in the sea level with climate change. You can see that happening, and not just in that area alone,” Ollivierre told IPS of the situation in Mayreau, an island in the southern Grenadines.

The sliver of land near Salt Whistle Bay once had a grove of lush sea grape trees.

“As the sea eroded the land, it washed out the roots and as it washed out the roots, the plant could no longer survive, so they dried up,” Ollivierre said.

Beneath the waves, the destruction is as evident.

“On the ocean bed in that area, it doesn’t have any coral. It is just a mossy bottom. It doesn’t have anything there,” Ollivierre told IPS.

If the land separating both bays were to be totally eroded, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, an archipelagic nation, would see its number of islands, islets and cays increase from 32 to 33.

But this could be potentially devastating for Salt Whistle Bay, which Flight Network, Canada’s largest travel agency, ranked 16 out of 1,800 beaches worldwide last November.

A major part of the economy on Mayreau is the sale of t-shirts and beachwear to the tourists that Salt Whistle Bay attracts. If the beach is compromised, the islands might not be as attractive to visitors and its economy would suffer.

“My fear is that if the windward side breaks through onto the other side, it can actually erode that whole area… All of that area is sand and it not so much sand separating both sides so we really have to be careful and take the necessary measures to prevent that from happening,” Ollivierre said.

Ollivierre’s fear is shared by tour operator Captain Wayne Halbich, who has been conducting sea tours among the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for almost three decades.

Halbich has witnessed the impact of rising sea level on Mayreau and he often tells his guests, light-heartedly, that Mayreau has the shortest distance between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

“That was actually a lot wider, and it was covered almost entirely by the sea island grape trees. It is going slowly,” he told IPS.

“This is a serious problem. This is what I always say to people. We are seeing really concrete signs in relation to global warming. It is also from the fact that the reef is dying. The reef cannot produce sand and any sand you lose is not coming back. That is the other story,” he says.

And, unless something is done quickly, one cyclone — which is now more frequent and intense in the Caribbean — could cause the worst to happen in Mayreau.

“If we have a storm this year, it would break away,” Halbick told IPS, as he reiterated his fears that Mayreau could lose its famous Salt Whistle Bay.

The situation in Mayreau has captured the attention the national assembly in the nation’s capital, with Terrance Ollivierre, Member of Parliament, for the Southern Grenadines asking Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves what can be done quickly to remedy the situation.

Gonsalves said that his government has been working with a private sector operator who has the resources and equipment nearby to be able to do some remedial work.

He said there have been a number of suggestions by technical experts, including a quick fix of putting some boulders at the beach at Windward Carenage as a kind of mitigation.

“But much more is required than that and it is going to be a larger project. So, the long and short of it, the fight which we are having on climate change, is a fight which relates to what is happening at Salt Whistle Bay. Rising sea levels, wave action, and then, of course, people moving away a lot of natural barriers, which have been there.

“When we talk about climate change and some people deny it and many of our own people scoff at it and when our people are not sufficiently alert and have not been in respect of the sea grapes and the manchineel, the mangrove, the coconut trees, even sand, we are paying for it.”

The prime minister told lawmakers that some persons have suggested that nothing be done at Mayreau and that the sea would return the land in the natural course of things.

“That’s not a scientific approach. We have a difficulty and we are trying to help.”

The lawmaker who called the situation to the attention of the parliament also agreed that doing nothing is not an option.

He pointed out that some persons had suggested that approach at Big Sand Beach in Union Island, another southern Grenadine island.

Residents are still waiting for the sea to return the sand to the once-famous beach, which has been reduced from 50 feet to less than 10 feet wide.

Among those who are taking action are Orisha Joseph and her team at Sustainable Grenadines Inc., a non-governmental organisation, which over the last year has been restoring the largest mangrove forest and lagoon in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, located in Ashton, Union island.

The work will create breaches in strategic areas of an abandoned marina to create water circulation in the area, which has been almost stagnant for the last 20 years.

As part of the project, the group has planted 500 mangroves trees in Union Island.

“Wherever you have those types of mangroves, you would not have erosion as the roots help to filter silt and it also breaks the energy of the wave, like around 70 percent.

“So you have your first line of defence, which is your seagrass, then your coral reef, then your mangrove. So, by the time you have really strong impact then you have a lot of buffer zones to break down that,” Joseph told IPS.

“All in all, as we go into the blue economy, what we need to do is to see how NGO and climate change organisations could really work with government and let everybody know that we shouldn’t be on opposite side,” she said, adding that government must insist that no construction takes place less than 40 metres away from the coastline.

“Everything in the environment is there for a particular reason and we have to be careful,” Joseph said, adding that coast vegetation prevents soil erosion.

To illustrate, she said there is a vine that grows on the sand on some beaches and people remove them to expose more of the beach.

“But when you remove that which is causing the sand to stay in place, then you are creating a bigger problem. We have this problem where people just go cutting down mangroves because they just want beachfront land and not really understanding that this vegetation is there for a reason,” she told IPS.

 

The post The Caribbean Island of Mayreau Could be Split in Two Thanks to Erosion appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/caribbean-island-mayreau-split-two-thanks-erosion/feed/ 0
Central American Farmers Face Climate Change Without Insurancehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/central-american-farmers-face-climate-change-without-insurance/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=central-american-farmers-face-climate-change-without-insurance http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/central-american-farmers-face-climate-change-without-insurance/#comments Fri, 02 Nov 2018 23:37:39 +0000 Edgardo Ayala http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158500 Disconsolate, Alberto Flores piles up on the edge of a road the few bunches of plantains that he managed to save from a crop spoiled by heavy rains that completely flooded his farm in central El Salvador. “Everything was lost, I have been cutting what can be salvaged, standing in water up to my knees,” […]

The post Central American Farmers Face Climate Change Without Insurance appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
Alberto Flores (center) works hard to harvest the few bunches of plantains that he managed to salvage from his plantation, which was flooded and ruined after the rains that hit El Salvador in mid-October. He estimates his losses at 2,000 dollars. And in August he lost his maize crop, to drought. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Alberto Flores (center) works hard to harvest the few bunches of plantains that he managed to salvage from his plantation, which was flooded and ruined after the rains that hit El Salvador in mid-October. He estimates his losses at 2,000 dollars. And in August he lost his maize crop, to drought. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

By Edgardo Ayala
SAN SALVADOR, Nov 2 2018 (IPS)

Disconsolate, Alberto Flores piles up on the edge of a road the few bunches of plantains that he managed to save from a crop spoiled by heavy rains that completely flooded his farm in central El Salvador.

“Everything was lost, I have been cutting what can be salvaged, standing in water up to my knees,” said Flores, a 54-year-old peasant farmer from San Marcos Jiboa, a village in the municipality of San Luis Talpa, in the south-central department of La Paz.

Flores told IPS that as a result of the rains, which hit El Salvador and the rest of Central America in mid-October, he lost some 2,000 dollars, after nearly a hectare of his plantain (cooking bananas) crop was flooded."We must consider the protection of agriculture and how that improves food security, and to this end we must work on prevention measures that make productive systems more resilient and that generate sustainable development.” -- Mariano Peñate

San Marcos Jiboa is a rural community of 250 families, 90 percent of whom are dedicated to agriculture. Most of the local farming families were affected by the torrential rains, IPS found during a tour of the area.

The damage was mainly to chili peppers, maize, beans, bananas, pipián – similar to zucchini – and loroco (Fernaldia pandurata), a creeper whose flower is edible and widely used in the local diet.

Other parts of the country and the Central American region were also hit hard.

Central America has been described in reports by international organisations as one of the planet’s most vulnerable regions to the onslaught of climate change.

And yet, tools that help farmers mitigate weather shocks, such as agricultural insurance, are not widely available in Central America, although important initiatives have been launched.

“I’ve heard about agricultural insurance, but no one comes to explain what it’s about,” said Flores, who perspires heavily as he piles up clusters of green plantains.

Compared to Mexico or countries in South America, Central America has made little progress in this area, according to the report Agricultural Insurance in the Americas, published in 2015 by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).

The report states that the efforts made in the region have not generated the expected results, although it cites a growth in agricultural insurance premiums in Guatemala, where they totalled 2.25 million dollars, followed by Panama (1.8 million) and Costa Rica (just over 500,000 dollars), according to data from 2013.

Experts pointed out that the high cost of agricultural insurance premiums, which is about 13 percent of an agricultural loan or investment, is one of the reasons, as well as a lack of information on and culture of using insurance.

Rows of banana plants on a farm flooded by heavy rains in the village of San Marcos Jiboa, in the central Salvadoran municipality of San Luis Talpa. The rains that hit Central America in mid-October not only impacted crops but also left 38 dead and more than 200,000 people affected in the region. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

Rows of banana plants on a farm flooded by heavy rains in the village of San Marcos Jiboa, in the central Salvadoran municipality of San Luis Talpa. The rains that hit Central America in mid-October not only impacted crops but also left 38 dead and more than 200,000 people affected in the region. Credit: Edgardo Ayala/IPS

“Basically, it’s expensive,” Saúl Ortiz, Guate Invierte’s Risk Analysis and Management Coordinator, told IPS by telephone from Guatemala. The financial institution manages a trust fund of more than 70 million dollars in agricultural support in various areas, including insurance.

It is precisely because of these costs that Guate Invierte emerged in 2005, added Ortiz, to support the country’s small and medium producers and give them the chance to take out a policy. The initial plan was to extend it throughout the region.

In addition to being a state guarantor of agricultural credits acquired by farmers from other financial institutions, Guate Invierte offered insurance not linked to loans, with a subsidy of up to 70 percent of the cost of the premium.

Climate impact

"Climate change definitely has consequences for production and for people's livelihoods, especially those who depend on agriculture," FAO consultant in El Salvador Mariano Peñate told IPS.

The soil is deteriorating and the livelihoods, especially of the poor, are being hit hard because of the impact on the yields of their small-scale crops, and indirectly, due to the reduction of employment, he said.

That affects food security, he added, not only of the population affected by these climatic phenomena, but also of the people who depend on the crops grown in the affected areas.

"We must consider the protection of agriculture and how that improves food security, and to this end we must work on prevention measures that make productive systems more resilient and that generate sustainable development," he said.

But that scheme failed because the government stopped injecting funds, and in 2015 Guate Invierte ceased to offer subsidised insurance not linked to loans, although it maintains coverage for customers who do have loans.

In El Salvador, while there is not a consolidated market, one kind of policy aimed at small farmers has begun to operate.

In July, Seguros Futuro, together with the state-run Agricultural Development Bank, launched the Produce Seguro programme, with coverage for earthquakes, droughts and excessive rainfall.

It is a microinsurance scheme aimed at the bank’s portfolio of 50,000 clients, whether they are farmers or involved in other productive sectors.

Unlike traditional insurance policies, which in the event of a catastrophe only pay for physically verified crop losses, Produce Seguro offers “parametric” insurance.

This kind of insurance pays a set amount for a specific event, based on the magnitude of the disaster, such as an earthquake or flooding, as measured y satellite and other advanced technology which indicates, for example, the level of rainfall in a given area.

The higher the level of rainfall in the policyholder’s area, the higher the indemnity.

In the case of rainfall, the initial level is 136 mm of water accumulated over three days. The information comes from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Salvadoran Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

“We don’t have to do any verification in the area, everything is based on the charts,” Daysi Rosales, general manager of Seguros Futuro, told IPS.

The pilot programme is supported by Swiss Re, the Swiss reinsurance company. The cost of premiums is five percent of the credit contracted with the BFA, which is affordable to farmers.

As a result of the last downpours, “the parameters have already been met and some level of compensation will be made, although we haven’t paid yet because the event just occurred and we are processing the payments,” said Rosales.

Rosales and Ortiz concur that state participation has been key to the expansion of agricultural insurance in South American countries or Mexico, something that has not happened in Central America.

“In Mexico, 90 percent is paid by the State; it is the State that buys the insurance, not the people,” said Rosales.

Meanwhile, on one of the flooded plots of land in San Marcos Jiboa, Víctor Alcántara, another farmer who was affected by the rains, said the impacts of natural disasters are felt virtually every year in this country, where climate change has become more severe this century.

“This time the blow was twofold: first we lost our maize in August, to drought, and now I’ve lost almost my whole loroco crop because of the rain,” he added.

Alcántara said he had invested 300 dollars in planting loroco, and has lost 60 percent of the crop due to the heavy rains.

Added to this is the loss of half a hectare of maize, worth around 400 dollars, due to the drought that affected the area in August, in the middle of the May to November rainy season, which is when the two annual harvests take place.

In August, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Programme warned in a joint statement that the drought would impact the price of food, since maize and beans, basic to the Central American diet, have been the most affected crops.

Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras reported losses of 281,000 hectares of these crops, on which the food security and nutrition of 2.1 million people depend, the report said.

Now that his maize harvest is ruined, Alcantara said he will have to figure out how to put tortillas on his family’s table.

 

The post Central American Farmers Face Climate Change Without Insurance appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/central-american-farmers-face-climate-change-without-insurance/feed/ 2
Cuban Women, Vulnerable to Climate Change, in the Forefront of the Strugglehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/cuban-women-vulnerable-climate-change-forefront-struggle/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cuban-women-vulnerable-climate-change-forefront-struggle http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/cuban-women-vulnerable-climate-change-forefront-struggle/#respond Sun, 21 Oct 2018 19:44:26 +0000 Patricia Grogg http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158279 When people ask marine biologist Angela Corvea why the symbol of her environmental project Acualina, which has transcended the borders of Cuba, is a little girl, she answers without hesitation: “Because life, care, attachment, the creative force of life lie are contained in the feminine world.” Acualina is a little philosopher dressed in an ancient […]

The post Cuban Women, Vulnerable to Climate Change, in the Forefront of the Struggle appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
A group of women clean a street after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the Havana neighborhood of Vedado in September 2017. Women play a leading role in mitigating the impacts of climate change, a phenomenon to which they are also the most vulnerable. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A group of women clean a street after the passage of Hurricane Irma, in the Havana neighborhood of Vedado in September 2017. Women play a leading role in mitigating the impacts of climate change, a phenomenon to which they are also the most vulnerable. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

By Patricia Grogg
HAVANA, Oct 21 2018 (IPS)

When people ask marine biologist Angela Corvea why the symbol of her environmental project Acualina, which has transcended the borders of Cuba, is a little girl, she answers without hesitation: “Because life, care, attachment, the creative force of life lie are contained in the feminine world.”

Acualina is a little philosopher dressed in an ancient Greek tunic in the colours of the Cuban flag – red, white and blue. She teaches, gives advice, issues warnings and provides guidelines on how to reduce risks to the environment. Her educational message is broadcast on TV and spread through other means, ranging from stickers to books.

This environmental education initiative created by Corvea in the coastal neighbourhod of Náutico, in Playa, a municipality on the northwest side of Havana, just celebrated its 15th anniversary. It is an area plagued by pollution, mainly coming from the mouth of a river, and from an open coast that causes flooding of the sea or the river during extreme climatic events.

“This is my way of developing, on a voluntary basis, organisational capacities to protect the environment, and adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. We developed this experience in many ways,” the 69-year-old expert, who has received international awards for her work on behalf of the environment, told IPS.

Corvea pointed out that in the face of the impacts of global warming, women are not only protagonists, but are also the most vulnerable. “In general, women are overburdened with work and in the face of a disaster, everything is magnified, the care of children and older adults, food and water shortages,” she said.

“The sixth sense that they attribute to us is activated with more power than normal and we have no other choice but to act, in the end we end up more tired than men: they are occupied (busy working) while we are occupied (working) as well as preoccupied (worried about and caring for everyone) – we have a double workload,” concluded the biologist, whose awareness-raising messages are tailored to children but also reach adults.

According to official reports, Cuban women currently make up 46 percent of the state labour force and 17 percent of the non-state sector. At the same time, they make up 58 percent of university graduates, more than 62 percent of university students, and 47 percent of those who work in science.

In politics, nine of the 25 cabinet ministers and 14 of the 31 members of the State Council are women, as are 299 of the 612 deputies of the National Assembly of People’s Power, the local parliament. The Minister of Science, Technology and Environment has been Elba Rosa Pérez Montoya since 2012.

The first head of this ministry, created in 1994, was scientist Rosa Elena Simeón. She was succeeded by José Miguel Miyar Barrueco, Pérez Montoya’s predecessor.

The data point to a steady increase in professional qualifications and in the level of female participation in Cuban society. However, they continue to be more vulnerable to the impact of climate change, which has intensified the force and frequency of hurricanes and exacerbated periods of drought.

Angela Corvea sits in front of the image of Acualina, the educational project she created 15 years ago in Cuba to teach children - and their families - how to reduce environmental risks, including climate risks, in an island nation where the impacts of rising temperatures are very noticeable. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Angela Corvea sits in front of the image of Acualina, the educational project she created 15 years ago in Cuba to teach children – and their families – how to reduce environmental risks, including climate risks, in an island nation where the impacts of rising temperatures are very noticeable. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

The response of men and women to this type of disaster is usually different. “Women generally assume the greatest responsibility during evacuations, packing up necessary personal belongings and water and food, often on their own with the children and the elderly in their care,” journalist Iramis Alonso told IPS.

Alonso, who specialises in scientific and environmental issues, added that women “tend to take longer to get back to work after these events, depending on how quickly support services are restored, such as day care centres. That affects them from the point of view of income more than men.”

“All efforts and conflicts are complicated by disasters, because women in every sense are more vulnerable, both at home and at work, where a machista organisational culture still reigns,” sociologist and academic Reina Fleitas told IPS.

In her opinion, disaster management policy should include a gender perspective, because solutions to the problems they generate have to be related to the different impacts and capacities created by people for recovery.

The researcher regretted that “vulnerability studies do not always include a gender focus, there is resistance to recognising that there is a feminisation of poverty that does not mean an increase in the number of women living in poverty, but rather the intensity of how they live.”

“It is known that the vast majority of Cuban women have double workdays and when a natural disaster occurs their efforts triple,” environmental educator Juan Francisco Santos told IPS.

They are the ones who have to prepare the food for the family, “who have to come up with meals, in many cases working magic to figure out how to cook,” she said.

 Several women walk in the rain towards their homes carrying food, as part of their preparations for the imminent arrival in Cuba of Hurricane Gustav, in 2008, in a Havana neighbourhood. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS


Several women walk in the rain towards their homes carrying food, as part of their preparations for the imminent arrival in Cuba of Hurricane Gustav, in 2008, in a Havana neighbourhood. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

In her view, there are several factors that increase women’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change. In the first place, she mentions the domestic role assumed by the majority of women and, as heads of households, they suffer greater tensions in the face of shortages during extreme events.

Santos said the aging of the population also plays a role, “because most of them are responsible for the care of both the very young and the elderly,” as well as “the lack of understanding of what it means to be a woman, on the part of men and of many women, and society as a whole.”

The educator attributed the “differentiated” responses of men and women to the danger of disasters.to “cultural constructions.”

The male provider, the woman (mother) protector, the man guarding the home, the woman in charge of domestic chores, the man “in the vanguard” and the woman “in the rear,” are the stereotyped roles that still remain widespread, he said.

“Faced with a natural disaster, we will continue to reproduce the world as we conceive it,” warned Santos.

According to the State Plan for Confronting Climate Change, approved by the Council of Ministers on Apr. 25, 2017, officially known as the Life Task, scientific studies confirm that Cuba’s climate is becoming warmer and more extreme.

The average annual temperature has increased by 0.9 degrees Celsius since the middle of the last century.

At the same time, great variability has been observed in storm activity and, since 2001, this Caribbean island nation has suffered the impact of 10 intense hurricanes, “unprecedented in history.”

Since 1960 rainfall patterns have changed and droughts have increased significantly, and the average sea level has risen by 6.77 centimetres to date. Coastal flooding caused by the rise of the sea level and strong waves represent the greatest danger to the natural heritage and buildings along the coast.

Future projections indicate that the average sea level rise could reach 27 centimetres by 2050 and 85 centimetres by 2100, causing the gradual loss of the country’s surface area in low-lying coastal areas, as well as the salinisation of underground aquifers.

The post Cuban Women, Vulnerable to Climate Change, in the Forefront of the Struggle appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/cuban-women-vulnerable-climate-change-forefront-struggle/feed/ 0
Caribbean Nations Pay Steep Price for Climate Change Caused by Othershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/caribbean-nations-pay-price-climate-change-caused-others/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=caribbean-nations-pay-price-climate-change-caused-others http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/caribbean-nations-pay-price-climate-change-caused-others/#respond Tue, 16 Oct 2018 19:10:50 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158216 Although their contribution to global warming is negligible, Caribbean nations are bearing the brunt of its impact. Climate phenomena are so devastating that countries are beginning to prepare not so much to adapt to the new reality, but to get their economies back on their feet periodically. “We live every year with the expectation that […]

The post Caribbean Nations Pay Steep Price for Climate Change Caused by Others appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
The post Caribbean Nations Pay Steep Price for Climate Change Caused by Others appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/caribbean-nations-pay-price-climate-change-caused-others/feed/ 0
The Caribbean Reiterates “1.5 Degrees Celsius to Stay Alive”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/caribbean-reiterates-1-5-degrees-celsius-stay-alive/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=caribbean-reiterates-1-5-degrees-celsius-stay-alive http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/caribbean-reiterates-1-5-degrees-celsius-stay-alive/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 08:58:20 +0000 Kenton X. Chance http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158120 If there is one lesson that Dominican Reginald Austrie has learnt from the devastation Hurricane Maria brought to his country last September, it is the need for “resilience, resilience, resilience”. And it is not just because he is his country’s minister of agriculture. When the category 5 hurricane made landfall in Dominica, Austrie, then the […]

The post The Caribbean Reiterates “1.5 Degrees Celsius to Stay Alive” appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

In many parts of Dominica, Hurricane Maria razed the greenery, including agricultural cultivation, from the hillside of the mountainous island. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

By Kenton X. Chance
BRIDGETOWN, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

If there is one lesson that Dominican Reginald Austrie has learnt from the devastation Hurricane Maria brought to his country last September, it is the need for “resilience, resilience, resilience”.

And it is not just because he is his country’s minister of agriculture.

When the category 5 hurricane made landfall in Dominica, Austrie, then the country’s minister of housing, was weeks away from harvest time at his two-acre farm where he had 800 plantain trees, in addition to yams.

“So, personally, I suffered some loss. But to me, my agriculture, while it is commercial, it’s not really my livelihood,” he told IPS on the sidelines of the 15th Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA), the premier agriculture event in the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which is taking place in Barbados from Oct. 8 to 12.“For us, our own scientists warned us of the ravages with respect to drought, with respect to the destruction of our reefs, and by extension, our marine life." -- prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley.

“I experienced it, I saw it and I know how much it cost me; that I can never recover the cost of production and so I understand what the regular and ordinary farmer is going through, fully dependent on agriculture,” Austrie, who became minister of agriculture three months ago, said of the monster hurricane.

In addition to the destruction of his plantain trees, Hurricane Maria left several landslides on Austrie’s farm when it tore across Dominica, leaving an estimated USD 157 million in damage to the agriculture and fisheries sectors, and total loss and damage amounting to 225 percent of the nation’s GDP.

Austrie is taking steps to reduce the impact of future cyclones, which forecasters say will become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change.

“So now I had to look at terracing, I had to look at the plants I can grow between the terraces to hold up the soil and I have to really look at whether I want to continue doing plantains, whether I want to expand,” he told IPS.

Climate resilience in agriculture and fisheries was a feature at CWA.

The event opened on the day that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said, in its latest report, that limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrialisation levels would require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

As part of their advocacy for a legally-binding global climate accord, small island developing states (SIDS) like those in the Caribbean, have been using the mantra “1.5 to stay alive”.

SIDS say capping global temperature rise at 2°C above pre-industrialisation levels — as some developed countries have suggested — would have a catastrophic impact on SIDS.

The IPCC’s latest report says limiting global warming to 1.5°C, compared to 2°C, could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.

“One of the key messages that come out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, co-chair of IPCC Working Group I.

In an address to delegates at CWA, secretary-general of CARICOM, Irwin LaRocque said the IPCC report supports the findings of Caribbean climate scientists “which showed that we will attain the 1.5°C warmer world much sooner than anticipated — by 2030”.

LaRocque said such as situation will result in much harsher climatic conditions for the Caribbean.

“Worse, the current trend of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, would lead to warming in the range of three degrees centigrade by the end of the century.”

CARICOM continues to advocate for greater ambition in the reduction of greenhouse gases, but must prepare for the worst, he said.

“We, therefore, need to upscale our planning for adapting to that reality,” LaRocque said, even as he noted that the IPCC report corroborates Caribbean scientists’ projections that even a 1.5 degree rise would result in significant impacts on fresh water and agricultural yields.

Further, such a level of warming would cause extreme temperatures, increases in frequency, intensity, and/or amount of heavy precipitation, and an increase in intensity or frequency of droughts.

“To counter that threat, we have been working on a programme along with our international development partners, to improve the resilience of the agriculture sector,” he said.

LaRocque pointed out that CARICOM’s agricultural research agency has been developing climate smart agriculture technologies suitable for agriculture in the region.

“CARDI has recommended identification, storage, sharing and utilisation of climate-ready germplasm of important food crops as one of the best mechanisms for building climate resilience that safeguards food and nutrition security.”

Meanwhile, CARICOM’s newest head of government, prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, reminded delegates at the event that in September she told the United Nations General Assembly that the CARICOM region understands that it has been made dispensable “by those who believe that a 2-degree change in temperature is acceptable to the world”.

She told CWA that she did not know then that the IPCC report that came after her speech would paint such a scenario.

Mottley, who was elected to office in May, said, however, that Caribbean nationals should not have been taken by surprise.

“For us, our own scientists warned us of the ravages with respect to drought, with respect to the destruction of our reefs, and by extension, our marine life.

“They warned us, more than 10 years ago. And we have allowed others to determine our advocacy and our voice without, perhaps remembering that phrase from one of the other countries, Jamaica, that ‘We small but we tallawah (feisty)’.”

And while those calls were not headed a decade ago, Hurricane Maria and the other cyclones, including Hurricane Irma, which affected the Caribbean in 2017, have brought them home forcefully.

“One of the things we have learnt is resilience, resilience, resilience…

“Dominica is a mountainous country. We farm on the hillsides. But there are technologies that can now be used to protect your lands from moving. We have to begin using new and innovative technologies,” Austrie told IPS as he reflected on the impact of Hurricane Maria on Dominica.

“And so we believe that while Maria dealt us a blow and nobody wishes for another Maria, it taught us some lessons, which had it was not for Maria, we would have taken for granted. We had adopted a kind of complacent attitude but I believe that Maria really struck us and sent it home that we have to begin to do things differently,” Austrie said.

The post The Caribbean Reiterates “1.5 Degrees Celsius to Stay Alive” appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/caribbean-reiterates-1-5-degrees-celsius-stay-alive/feed/ 0
As Amazon Warms, Tropical Butterflies and Lizards Seek the Shadehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/amazon-warms-tropical-butterflies-lizards-seek-shade/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=amazon-warms-tropical-butterflies-lizards-seek-shade http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/amazon-warms-tropical-butterflies-lizards-seek-shade/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 10:48:00 +0000 Jewel Fraser http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158062 Recent research at a centre in Guyana shows that some types of butterflies and lizards in the Amazon have been seeking shelter from the heat as Amazonian temperatures rise. The CEIBA Biological Centre (CEIBA), in Madewini, Guyana, under its executive director Dr. Godfrey Bourne, is investigating the impact of global warming on tropical ectotherms, namely, […]

The post As Amazon Warms, Tropical Butterflies and Lizards Seek the Shade appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

A new CEIBA Biological Centre (CEIBA) study investigates the impact of global warming on tropical ectotherms, namely, butterflies and lizards, whose body temperatures are determined by the environment. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Jewel Fraser
PORT OF SPAIN, Oct 9 2018 (IPS)

Recent research at a centre in Guyana shows that some types of butterflies and lizards in the Amazon have been seeking shelter from the heat as Amazonian temperatures rise.

The CEIBA Biological Centre (CEIBA), in Madewini, Guyana, under its executive director Dr. Godfrey Bourne, is investigating the impact of global warming on tropical ectotherms, namely, butterflies and lizards, whose body temperatures are determined by the environment.

A study he supervised, conducted by students Chineze Obi and Noreen Heyari, revealed that “changes in wing positions [of Postman butterflies] were associated with regulating absorption of solar energy. Thus, thoracic temperatures were effectively regulated so that body temperatures were maintained between 28° and 34° C. Postman butterflies were fully active within this range of temperatures.” But when things got too hot for wing manoeuvres to help them, the butterflies simply retreated and rested, the researchers found.

They also found that the postman butterfly maintained “relatively stable temperatures during fluctuating” outside temperatures.

These findings suggest that some Amazonian ectotherms may be adjusting their behaviour to cope with the heat, but at the expense of the normal activities required for survival and breeding.

“Because postman butterflies and Neotropical collared lizards maintain lower temperatures than ambient for most of the [investigation periods], they may be shade seeking to stay cooler, instead of spending time foraging, mate seeking, and defending territories. Taken together these results suggest that rising global temperatures could already be having negative impacts on [them],” Bourne told IPS.

Accordingly, the journal, Animal Behaviour, in an article published in August explains, “Thermoregulatory behaviours are of great importance for ectotherms buffering against the impact of temperature extremes. Such behaviours bring not only benefits but also organism level costs such as decreased food availability and foraging efficiency and thus lead to energetic costs and metabolic consequences.”

Bourne said he chose to study butterflies and lizards native to the Amazon because even moderate increases in temperatures could have profound impacts on these creatures’ daily activities and metabolic function.

“Tropical terrestrial ectotherms, including butterflies and lizards, have a narrower thermal tolerance than higher-latitude species, and are currently living very close to their maximum temperature limits,” he told IPS.

He said the rate of temperature increase in the Amazon, which Guyana shares with its neighbours, was 0.25°C per decade during the late 20th century, with an expected increase in temperature of about 3.3°C during this century if greenhouse gas emissions are at moderate levels.

A Small blue Grecian Heliconius sara. Research shows that some Amazonian ectotherms may be adjusting their behaviour to cope with the heat, but at the expense of the normal activities required for survival and breeding.Courtesy: Dr. Godfrey Bourne

“Butterflies [invertebrates] and lizards [vertebrates]…both generate body temperatures primarily from temperatures of the environment; [this is in contrast to] endothermy, a high-cost physiological approach to life where body temperatures are generated from ingested foods…Butterflies and lizards are well-studied, conspicuous, and easily tractable taxa that provide some of the strongest evidence for the ecological effects of recent climate change,” he told IPS via e-mail.

His research builds on other, published, research. An article in the journal, Global Ecology and Conservation, notes that “decreasing local climate suitability (magnitude) may threaten species living close to their upper climatic tolerance limits, and high velocities of climate change may affect the ability of species to track suitable climatic conditions, particularly those with low dispersal.”

In addition, sex ratio also influences a species’ chances of survival. “If we see sexual dimorphism in behaviours with one sex being more active during hotter times of the day, then we may see changes in sex ratios, favouring the sex that is more active during higher temperatures. Under such a scenario, sex ratio imbalance will eventually contribute to population crashes,” he told IPS.

A 2016 study by Australian scientists, published in the journal Ecological Modelling, found that when the sex ratio was biased towards the female sex under warming climates, then the size of reptile populations increased greatly, but where the bias was towards the male sex under warmer temperatures, “population sizes declined dramatically.”

The cumulative impact may be “reduced breeding and low population growth for the sun-avoiding butterfly and lizard species, but longer persistence for their [sun-loving] relatives. But in 20 years, I suspect that all populations may become locally extinct,” Bourne said.

At the same time, humans will also feel the adverse consequences if these creatures lose out in the struggle against climate change. One estimate suggests a third of the foods eaten by human beings is pollinated. “In the long term…pollinator services will be minimised, leading to reduced fruit and seed production, and eventually to reduced new plant recruitment for forests,” Bourne said.

As lizards also play a role in plant recruitment, their demise will also adversely affect the food supply. The tropical lizards Bourne has studied eat small fallen fruit, and “when eating these fruit they move several metres from the parent tree where the seeds are discarded,” he explained. “Seeds discarded away from the parent tree have a higher probability of escaping insect, bird, and mammal seed predators, and so are likely to germinate. These have a higher likelihood of recruitment and becoming established into the forest matrix,” Bourne said. Hence, a reduction in lizards will ultimately mean less food from plants.

The post As Amazon Warms, Tropical Butterflies and Lizards Seek the Shade appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/amazon-warms-tropical-butterflies-lizards-seek-shade/feed/ 0
Climate Change Response Must Be Accompanied By a Renewed Approach to Economic Developmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/climate-change-response-must-accompanied-renewed-approach-economic-development/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-change-response-must-accompanied-renewed-approach-economic-development http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/climate-change-response-must-accompanied-renewed-approach-economic-development/#respond Fri, 05 Oct 2018 07:16:25 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157932 In the face of the many challenges posed by climate change, Panos Caribbean, a global network of institutes working to give a voice to poor and marginalised communities, says the Caribbean must raise its voice to demand and support the global temperature target of 1.5 °C. Ahead of the United Nations climate summit in December, […]

The post Climate Change Response Must Be Accompanied By a Renewed Approach to Economic Development appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

In August Grenada expereinced heavy rainfall which resulted in “wide and extensive” flooding that once again highlighted the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to climate change. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
KINGSTON, Oct 5 2018 (IPS)

In the face of the many challenges posed by climate change, Panos Caribbean, a global network of institutes working to give a voice to poor and marginalised communities, says the Caribbean must raise its voice to demand and support the global temperature target of 1.5 °C.

Ahead of the United Nations climate summit in December, Yves Renard, interim coordinator of Panos Caribbean, said advocacy, diplomacy and commitments must be both firm and ambitious.

He said this is necessary to ensure that the transition to renewable energy and a sharp reduction in emissions are not only implemented but accelerated.

“This is a mission that should not be left only to climate change negotiators. Caribbean leaders and diplomats, the private sector and civil society must also be vocal on the international scene and at home,” Renard told IPS.

“The global response to climate change must not be reduced to a mechanical concept. It needs to be accompanied by a renewed approach to economic development and by a change in mentality, so that it is included in the broader context of people’s livelihoods, social values and development priorities.”

The Panos official said artists, civil society leaders and other actors in the Caribbean should emphasise the need to challenge the dominant approaches to development and to help shape new relationships between people, businesses, institutions and the natural world.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) said community-based and ecosystem-based approaches are critical to build resilience to climate change, especially in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

“Investing in conserving, sustainably managing and restoring ecosystems,” CANARI states, “provides multiple benefits in terms of building ecological, economic and social resilience, as well as mitigation co-benefits through carbon sequestration by forests and mangroves.”

Renard said as evidenced all over the Caribbean in recent years, it is the poorest, marginalised and most vulnerable who are the most affected by climate change.

These include small farmers suffering from severe drought, households without insurance unable to recover from devastating hurricanes, and people living with disabilities unable to cope with the impacts of disasters.

“Climate change exacerbates inequalities, and adaptation measures must provide the necessary buffers and support to poor and vulnerable groups,” Renard told IPS.

“All sectorial, national and international legal and policy frameworks must recognise the benefits that can be gained from participation and partnerships, including the empowerment of communities, businesses, trade unions and civil society organisations to enable them to play a direct role in the identification and implementation of solutions, particularly in reference to adaptation.”

Yves Renard, interim coordinator of Panos Caribbean, says artists, civil society leaders and other actors in the Caribbean should emphasise the need to challenge the dominant approaches to development and to help shape new relationships between people, businesses, institutions and the natural world. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Additionally, he said the architecture and operations of climate finance institutions must be improved to facilitate direct access by national and regional actors; and to consider the financing of adaptation actions on the basis of full cost, especially in small countries where there is limited potential to secure co-financing.

He said that climate finance institutions also needed to facilitate civil society and private sector involvement in project design and execution; and, increase SIDS representation in the governance of financing institutions.

Renard said that in light of the critical importance of decentralised and community-based approaches to adaptation and resilience building, financing institutions and mechanisms should design and implement facilities that make technical assistance and financing available to local actors, as is being done, with significant success, by the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility.

He said that even in some of the poorest countries in the region, local actors have been taking the initiative in responding to the impacts of climate change.

“For the Caribbean, a regional coalition of civil society actors is necessary so as to build solidarity, and to share experiences and expertise on climate action in local contexts. These civil society networks must reinforce and build on actions taken by regional governments, and more international support is required for this work to be undertaken,” he said.

“Increased resources and capacities in communications and advocacy are required in order to disseminate the scientific evidence on climate change, to deepen understanding within the region on climate change and its impacts, and to push for more ambitious action on climate change at the global level.”

In addressing the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly debate, Grenada’s foreign affairs minister Peter David called on other Caribbean nations and SIDS to serve as “test cases” for nationwide implementation of climate-related technologies and advances.

David said the Caribbean also represents some of the most globally compelling business cases for sustainable renewable energy investment.

“Being climate smart goes beyond policies,” he said. “It goes beyond resilient housing, resilient infrastructure and resilient agriculture. It means that the region can also serve as a global beacon for renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

“We aim to not only be resilient, but with our region’s tremendous potential in hydro-electricity and geothermal energy, we could also be climate smart.”

The post Climate Change Response Must Be Accompanied By a Renewed Approach to Economic Development appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/climate-change-response-must-accompanied-renewed-approach-economic-development/feed/ 0
Saving the Kindergarten of Sharkshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/saving-kindergarten-sharks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=saving-kindergarten-sharks http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/saving-kindergarten-sharks/#respond Thu, 04 Oct 2018 04:38:04 +0000 Gordon Radley http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157970 Every winter dozens of bull sharks come to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera to breed. A single bull shark can give birth to up to 15 young. They are the only species of shark that can live in both fresh and salt water. Saving Our Sharks has called for a strict no fishing sanctuary along the Mexican […]

The post Saving the Kindergarten of Sharks appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
Every winter dozens of bull sharks come to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera to breed. A single bull shark can give birth to up to 15 young. They are the only species of shark that can live in both fresh and salt water.

Every winter dozens of bull sharks come to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera to breed. A single bull shark can give birth to up to 15 young. They are the only species of shark that can live in both fresh and salt water.

By Gordon Radley
MAYAN RIVIERA, Mexico, Oct 4 2018 (IPS)

Every winter dozens of bull sharks come to Mexico’s Mayan Riviera to breed.
A single bull shark can give birth to up to 15 young. They are the only species of shark that can live in both fresh and salt water.

Saving Our Sharks has called for a strict no fishing sanctuary along the Mexican Caribbean to help protect the fish at this very vulnerable time in their lives.

Ahead of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference being co-hosted by Canadian and Kenyan governments in Nairobi Nov. 26 to 28, the protection of marine life and oceans, seas, lakes and rivers is in the forefront of the development agenda.

The theme of the conference is Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 

The post Saving the Kindergarten of Sharks appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/saving-kindergarten-sharks/feed/ 0
Countries On the Frontline of Climate Change Impact Call for Stronger Mitigation Commitmentshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/countries-frontline-climate-change-impact-call-stronger-mitigation-commitments/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=countries-frontline-climate-change-impact-call-stronger-mitigation-commitments http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/countries-frontline-climate-change-impact-call-stronger-mitigation-commitments/#comments Mon, 24 Sep 2018 13:24:05 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157725 Caribbean leaders want larger countries to pick up the pace at which they are working to meet the climate change challenge and keep global warming from devastating whole countries, including the most vulnerable ones like those in the Caribbean. Diann Black-Layne, ambassador for Climate Change in Antigua and Barbuda’s ministry of agriculture, lands, housing and […]

The post Countries On the Frontline of Climate Change Impact Call for Stronger Mitigation Commitments appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Damage caused by Hurricane Irma in Road Town, on the British Virgin Island of Tortola. Caribbean leaders want larger countries to pick up the pace at which they are working to meet the climate change challenge and keep global warming from devastating whole countries. Courtesy: Russell Watkins/DFID

By Desmond Brown
SAN FRANCISCO and ST. JOHN’S, Sep 24 2018 (IPS)

Caribbean leaders want larger countries to pick up the pace at which they are working to meet the climate change challenge and keep global warming from devastating whole countries, including the most vulnerable ones like those in the Caribbean.

Diann Black-Layne, ambassador for Climate Change in Antigua and Barbuda’s ministry of agriculture, lands, housing and the environment, said that at present, most studies show that globally we are on track for a 3-degree Celsius temperature rise before the end of this century.

She pointed to extreme impacts already being experienced, such as greater storms, melting ice caps, increased overall temperatures, species fragmentation, increased invasive species and many other impacts.

“Currently, we need to be below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably at 1.5 degrees, to see a drastic improvement in climate,” Black-Layne told IPS.

“To put this in context, globally we are already 1 degree Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels.”

Black-Layne added that governments must back words with action and step up to enhance their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2020 in line with the Paris Agreement and the ratchet up mechanism.

Although the contributions of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to greenhouse gases are negligible, every little action towards alleviating climate change counts.

“More importantly, a global agreement requires everyone to do their part, to build trust and encourage others to act,” Black-Layne said.

“SIDS can be some of the early movers to decarbonise our economies – that means growing an economy without growing emissions.”

At the recent Talanoa Dialogue held in September in San Francisco, newly-elected prime minister of Barbados Mia Mottley said while the Caribbean countries are not responsible for causing the greatest changes in the climate, they are the ones on the frontline. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Meanwhile, at the recent Talanoa Dialogue held this month in San Francisco, newly-elected prime minister of Barbados Mia Mottley said while the Caribbean countries are not responsible for causing the greatest changes in the climate, they are the ones on the frontline.

“Dominica was hit by [hurricanes] Irma and Maria, in fact devastated to the tune of 275 percent of its GDP last year. And that came on top of [tropical storm] Erica which devastated communities and led to loss of life,” said Mottley, whose Barbados Labour Party won all 30 seats in the May 24 election.

“This is our lived reality in the Caribbean. This is not an academic discussion. This is difficult for us. And therefore, when the discussions took place between whether it is 1.5 or 2 [° C ], others could wallow in the ease of an academic discussion. For us it will have implications for what communities can survive in the Caribbean, in the Pacific and different other parts of the world.”“This is our lived reality in the Caribbean. This is not an academic discussion. This is difficult for us. And therefore, when the discussions took place between whether it is 1.5 or 2 [° C ], others could wallow in the ease of an academic discussion. For us it will have implications for what communities can survive in the Caribbean, in the Pacific and different other parts of the world.” -- prime minister of Barbados Mia Mottley

In 2015, 196 parties came together under the Paris Agreement to transform their development trajectories and set the world on a course towards sustainable development, with an aim of limiting warming to 1.5 to 2° C above pre-industrial levels.

Through the Paris Agreement, parties also agreed to a long-term goal for adaptation – to increase the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that did not threaten food production. Additionally, they agreed to work towards making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

In June 2017, United States president Donald Trump ceased all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord.

That includes contributions to the United Nations Green Climate Fund (to help poorer countries to adapt to climate change and expand clean energy) and reporting on carbon data (though that is required in the U.S. by domestic regulations anyway).

But the U.S. remains part of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Forty years ago, Barbados commenced the use of solar water heaters through tax incentives.

Today, Mottley says, no one in the country thinks about building a house without a solar water heater.

“That simple example showed us how the change of behaviour of citizens can make a fundamental difference in the output. We aim by 2030 to be a fossil fuel-free environment but we can’t do it just so,” she said.

Explaining that Barbados has recently entered a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund, she lamented that her new government inherited a situation where Barbados is the third-most indebted country in the world today.

“It means that our options for development and financing are seriously constrained but our reality to fight what is perhaps the gravest challenge of our time continues. We cannot borrow from the World Bank or other major entities because we’re told that our per capita income is too high,” Mottley said.

“But within 48 hours, like Dominica, we could lose 200 percent of our GDP. That is the very definition of vulnerability if ever there was one. And unless we change it we are going to see the obliteration or civilisations or we’re going to see problems morph into security and migration issues that the world does not want to deal with.”

The post Countries On the Frontline of Climate Change Impact Call for Stronger Mitigation Commitments appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/countries-frontline-climate-change-impact-call-stronger-mitigation-commitments/feed/ 1
Between Drought and Floods, Cuba Seeks to Improve Water Managementhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/drought-floods-cuba-seeks-improve-water-management/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=drought-floods-cuba-seeks-improve-water-management http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/drought-floods-cuba-seeks-improve-water-management/#respond Sat, 15 Sep 2018 15:48:23 +0000 Patricia Grogg http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157631 If you enjoy a good daily shower and water comes out every time you turn on the taps in your home, you should feel privileged. There are places in the world where this vital resource for life is becoming scarcer by the day and the forecasts for the future are grim. A study by the […]

The post Between Drought and Floods, Cuba Seeks to Improve Water Management appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
A medium-density polyethylene (MDPE) pipe is set to be installed on a centrally located avenue in the municipality of Centro Habana, which will be part of the new water supply grid for residents of the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A medium-density polyethylene (MDPE) pipe is set to be installed on a centrally located avenue in the municipality of Centro Habana, which will be part of the new water supply grid for residents of the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

By Patricia Grogg
HAVANA, Sep 15 2018 (IPS)

If you enjoy a good daily shower and water comes out every time you turn on the taps in your home, you should feel privileged. There are places in the world where this vital resource for life is becoming scarcer by the day and the forecasts for the future are grim.

A study by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which covers the period 2003-2013, shows that the world’s largest underground aquifers are being depleted at an alarming rate as a result of more water being withdrawn than can be replenished.

“The situation is quite critical,” NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti has said, when discussing the subject in specialised publications in the U.S. In the opinion of this expert the problems with groundwater are aggravated by global warming due to the phenomenon of climate change.

Far from diminishing, the impact of climate variations is also felt in greater changes in rainfall patterns, with serious consequences for Caribbean nations that are dependent on rainfall. In Cuba and other Caribbean island countries, in particular, periods of drought have become more intense.

“There is a gradual decrease in water availability due to reduced rainfall, deteriorating water quality and greater evaporation due to rising temperatures,” Antonio Rodríguez, vice-president of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH), told IPS in an interview.

Hurricane Irma, which in September 2017 tore almost through the entire Cuban archipelago, contributed to the relief of a drought that kept the country’s people and fields thirsty for nearly four years. The current rainy season, which will last until November, began in May with Subtropical Storm Alberto with high levels of rainfall that will continue.

“We have been able to show that climate change is real. We lived through 38 months of intense drought and then we had rains well above average,” said Rodrìguez.

A team of workers from the Aguas de La Habana water company work on the replacement of the sewage system in the Vedado neighbourhood in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A team of workers from the Aguas de La Habana water company work on the replacement of the sewage system in the Vedado neighbourhood in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

The intense rains associated with Alberto, which hit Cuba in the last week of May, caused eight deaths due to drowning and serious economic damage in several provinces, but at the same time considerably increased the reserves in the 242 reservoirs controlled by the INRH, the government agency in charge of Cuba’s water resources.

Tarea Vida, the official plan to deal with climate change in force since last year, warns that the average sea level has risen 6.77 cm to date, and could rise 27 cm by 2050 and 85 by 2100, which would cause the gradual loss of land in low-lying coastal areas.

In addition, there could be “a salinisation of underground aquifers opened up to the sea due to saline wedge intrusion.” For now, “of the 101 aquifers controlled by the INRH, 100 are in a very favourable state,” Rodríguez said.

These sources also suffered the impact of the drought, but recovered with the rains after Hurricane Irma.

In this context, the inefficient use of water, due to the technical condition and inadequate functioning of the water system, causes the annual loss of some 1.6 billion cubic metres of water in Cuba.

In 2011, a strategic plan outlining priorities to address this situation began to be implemented in 12 cities from Havana to Santiago de Cuba in the east.

Two workers from the Aguas de La Habana company replace water pipes and install water meters in homes to measure drinking water consumption in the Vedado neighbourhood in Havana. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Two workers from the Aguas de La Habana company replace water pipes and install water meters in homes to measure drinking water consumption in the Vedado neighbourhood in Havana. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

When the programme began, losses amounted to 58 percent, both in the water grid and inside homes and other establishments. So far, the loss has only been reduced to 48 percent.

Since 2013, however, work has been underway on a comprehensive supply and sanitation plan that covers more than a solution to losses in distribution.

From 2015 to 2017, sewerage coverage has improved by 0.6 per cent and an additional 1.6 million people have benefited from the water supply.

Currently, only 11 percent of the country’s population of 11.2 million receive piped water at home 24 hours a day, and 39 percent at certain times of the day. In the remaining 50 percent of households, water is available only sporadically, and sometimes they go more than a week without water.

“I live in downtown Santiago de Cuba and we have two large elevated tanks and a cistern. We get piped water from the grid more or less every seven days and it is enough for us, even for our daily shower,” a worker from the telephone company Etecsa told IPS from that city, asking to remain anonymous.

Part of the historical water deficit in Santiago and other cities in the eastern-most part of the country has been alleviated through the transfer of water from regions with a greater supply. But during times of drought the supply cycles slow down. “That’s why in my house we are careful with our water,” she said.

One study found that of the 58 percent of water lost, 20 percent is lost in homes.

Another priority is to increase wastewater treatment. “Although in the country sewage coverage is more than 96 percent, only 36 percent of the population receives the service through networks, the rest is through septic tanks and other types of treatment,” said INRH vice-president Rodrìguez.

Among these challenges, he also mentioned poor hydrometric coverage.

Alexander Concepción Molina, a worker at Aguas de La Habana, supervises the thermofusion process of a high-density polyethylene pipe, which is part of the installation of new water gridsin the Peñas Altas neighbourhood of Habana del Este, in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Alexander Concepción Molina, a worker at Aguas de La Habana, supervises the thermofusion process of a high-density polyethylene pipe, which is part of the installation of new water gridsin the Peñas Altas neighbourhood of Habana del Este, in the Cuban capital. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

“We were able to get 100 percent of the public sector and all major consumers to be controlled by water metres, although in the residential sector this coverage reaches just over 23 percent of the population. From 2015 to 2017, more than 227,000 water meters have been installed, but the plan is to reach total coverage,” Rodríguez said.

“Without a doubt, water meters reduce consumption and allow us to measure the efficiency of our system,” he added.

Like other services, residential water supply is subsidised by the state and has a very low cost. “There are four of us and we pay 5.20 pesos a month (less than 0.25 cents of a dollar),” said María Curbelo, a resident of the Havana neighbourhood of Vedado.

The national hydraulic programme extended until 2030 includes works for water supply, sanitation, storage, diversion and hydrometry, as well as the necessary equipment for investment and maintenance.

“We are also working on the construction of seawater desalination plants,” Rodriguez said.

These plans include not only works to supply the population, but also everything necessary for agriculture, hotel infrastructure and the housing programme.

Rodriguez explained that to carry out the programme there is both state and foreign funding, which has made possible a subsidised home supply.

“We have benefited by foreign loans from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Spain’s development aid agency and Chinese donations,” among others, he said.

These are soft loans with a five-year grace period, two or three percent interest and to be paid in 20 years, with the Cuban State as guarantor.

The post Between Drought and Floods, Cuba Seeks to Improve Water Management appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/drought-floods-cuba-seeks-improve-water-management/feed/ 0
Maya Farmers in South Belize Hold Strong to Their Climate Change Experimenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/maya-farmers-central-belize-hold-strong-climate-change-experiment/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=maya-farmers-central-belize-hold-strong-climate-change-experiment http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/maya-farmers-central-belize-hold-strong-climate-change-experiment/#respond Wed, 05 Sep 2018 14:14:45 +0000 Zadie Neufville http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157466 This is an op-ed contributed by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

The post Maya Farmers in South Belize Hold Strong to Their Climate Change Experiment appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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

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

By Zadie Neufville
BELMOPAN, Sep 5 2018 (IPS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Maya Farmers in South Belize Hold Strong to Their Climate Change Experiment appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This is an op-ed contributed by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

The post Maya Farmers in South Belize Hold Strong to Their Climate Change Experiment appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/maya-farmers-central-belize-hold-strong-climate-change-experiment/feed/ 0
How Guyana Must Prepare to Cope With the ‘Jeopardies and Perils’ of Oil Discoveryhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/guyana-must-prepare-cope-jeopardies-perils-oil-discovery/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=guyana-must-prepare-cope-jeopardies-perils-oil-discovery http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/guyana-must-prepare-cope-jeopardies-perils-oil-discovery/#respond Mon, 03 Sep 2018 08:27:20 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157432 Recent huge offshore oil discoveries are believed to have set Guyana– one of the poorest countries in South America–on a path to riches. But they have also highlighted the country’s development challenges and the potential impact of an oil boom. Oil giant ExxonMobil has, over the last three years, drilled eight gushing discovery wells offshore […]

The post How Guyana Must Prepare to Cope With the ‘Jeopardies and Perils’ of Oil Discovery appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

The Essequibo River is the longest river in Guyana, and the largest river between the Orinoco and Amazon. As oil production in Guyana is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2020, experts say the increasing environmental risks of more oil wells require increasing capacity to understand and manage these risks. Courtesy: Conservation International Guyana.

By Desmond Brown
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Sep 3 2018 (IPS)

Recent huge offshore oil discoveries are believed to have set Guyana– one of the poorest countries in South America–on a path to riches. But they have also highlighted the country’s development challenges and the potential impact of an oil boom.

Oil giant ExxonMobil has, over the last three years, drilled eight gushing discovery wells offshore with the potential to generate nearly USD20 billion in oil revenue annually by the end of the next decade.“These are the jeopardies and these are the perils that we have to prepare for. We should not take them for granted or believe that we are dealing with something that is so far removed from our consciousness or our reality that we don’t have to be prepared.” -- minister of natural resources Raphael Trotman

“For Guyana where the current oil sector is located offshore, the direct environmental risks are primarily associated with oil spills, but will also include emissions from the operations, and from seismic activities that can affect marine species,” Dr David Singh, executive director of Conservation International Guyana, told IPS.

“The environmental risk increases with the number of oil wells in any one area.”

Singh said increasing environmental risks require increasing capacity to understand and manage these risks.

From a regulatory standpoint, he said this means building the institutional capacity in step with the development of the industry.

“For civil society, the responsibility is ours to learn about the industry, to contribute to the creation of good policies and laws related to the industry, and to ensure the highest levels of accountability from the industry and from the state towards the environment,” he said.

“It also requires us to support companies and initiatives that are in the business of clean, renewable energy generation, and in supporting efforts to reduce our ecological footprint. Even as we focus on these efforts we are cognisant of the limited human and institutional capacity of the country which will have an impact on the design and application of good and responsible environmental and social safeguards.”

Several commentators have observed that senior government officials here have little experience regulating a big oil industry or negotiating with international companies.

But minister of natural resources Raphael Trotman said Guyana is prepared and has been building and strengthening its capacity to deal with the potential hazards that come with the development of an oil and gas sector.

He said no effort will be spared to ensure that Guyana puts a sound disaster risk reduction and management system in place so that it is prepared to prevent an oil spill or respond effectively should there be an accident in that regard.

“These are the jeopardies and these are the perils that we have to prepare for. We should not take them for granted or believe that we are dealing with something that is so far removed from our consciousness or our reality that we don’t have to be prepared,” Trotman told a national consultation on the drafting of the National Oil Spill Response Contingency Plan at the Civil Defence Commission’s.

“It has to be taken seriously and whilst the industry standards are very high, we do have a risk. We recognise that there is a risk. However, government is making every effort to prepare for that risk. We expect that in 24 months when we go to production in the first quarter of 2020, we will meet not only minimum standards expected, but we will go past that and dare to say to ourselves and particularly to the world that we are ready for any eventuality,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tyrone Hall, a PhD Candidate at York University, is urging those involved in civil society in Guyana, especially its environmental sector, to assess the exemplary efforts underway in Belize.

Hall, who has been studying the issue, notes Belize recently found itself at the centre of rare positive environmental news of global importance.

Its portion of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, arguably the world’s longest living barrier reef and certainly this region’s most iconic marine asset, was removed from the World Heritage Sites’ endangered category after nearly a decade (mid-2009 to June 2018), according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Centre.

The decision was taken after Belize ditched plans to rapidly expand its nascent oil industry.

“There are lesson we can draw from the Belizean experience for raising the bar and boldly re-imagining environmental responses in the face of a petro-economic reorientation,” Hall said.

“In other words, while oil exploration is unlikely to be halted in Guyana at this point, the environmental community, and broader civil society must not settle into vassal like, aid-recipient disposition.

“It should raise its expectations, and also challenge, contextualise and transcend the singularly economistic conventions being drawn from distance places,” Hall added.

ExxonMobil has made eight discoveries in Guyana’s waters to date.

Production is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2020 with an estimated 120,000 barrels per day. This should increase to 220,000 barrels per day by 2022.

“What the oil revenues will allow us to do is to fulfil these dreams of the Guyanese people and to ensure that the quality of life for every citizen dramatically improves over a period of a few short years,” Trotman said.

The post How Guyana Must Prepare to Cope With the ‘Jeopardies and Perils’ of Oil Discovery appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/guyana-must-prepare-cope-jeopardies-perils-oil-discovery/feed/ 0
Mixed Signals as Guyana Develops its Green Economy Strategyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/mixed-signals-guyana-develops-green-economy-strategy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mixed-signals-guyana-develops-green-economy-strategy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/mixed-signals-guyana-develops-green-economy-strategy/#respond Tue, 21 Aug 2018 11:52:57 +0000 Jewel Fraser http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157293 Guyana is forging ahead with plans to exploit vast offshore reserves of oil and gas, even while speaking eloquently of its leadership in transitioning to a green economy at a recent political party congress addressed by the country’s president. The mixed signals on plans for a green economy have increased in the past year, in […]

The post Mixed Signals as Guyana Develops its Green Economy Strategy appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

About 80 percent of Guyana’s forests, some 15 million hectares, have remained untouched over time. The country is making plans for a green economy while also looking to exploit its fossil fuel reserves. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Jewel Fraser
PORT OF SPAIN, Aug 21 2018 (IPS)

Guyana is forging ahead with plans to exploit vast offshore reserves of oil and gas, even while speaking eloquently of its leadership in transitioning to a green economy at a recent political party congress addressed by the country’s president.
The mixed signals on plans for a green economy have increased in the past year, in the wake of a 2015 discovery of what has been termed one of the largest discoveries of oil and gas 120 miles off Guyana’s shores, which saw major international oil companies vying for exploration rights even as the government began work on a Green State Development Strategy.

Central to the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) is “the structural transformation of Guyana’s economy into a green and inclusive one [that] will recognise the economic value of the extractive sectors, instituting measures to ensure their environmental sustainability while facilitating new economic growth from a more diverse set of inclusive, green and high value-adding sectors.”

In line with its goal to transition to a green economy, Guyana entered into a seven-year partnership with Norway for a REDD+ investment fund, on the basis of its 19 million hectares of forest with a carbon sink capacity of 350 tons/hectare, in what it described as “the world‟s first national-scale, payment-for-performance forest conservation agreement.” The USD250 million investment fund from Norway is earmarked for pioneering Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy.

At the same time, government agencies of this small South American country, the only English-speaking one on the continent, gave some assistance to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as it researched the most effective measures for ensuring the Guyanese labour force developed the skills needed in a green economy.

The ILO agreed to respond to IPS’ queries about the seeming paradox of Guyana exploiting its fossil fuel reserves while making plans for a green economy, whereas repeated efforts by the IPS to obtain an interview with Guyana’s Office of Climate Change were unsuccessful.

Andrew Small, the consultant commissioned by the ILO to carry out the study on greening Guyana’s labour force, told IPS via e-mail that he thinks the country is indeed ready and positioning itself for a green economy. He pointed to changes in the education curricula at both secondary school and tertiary level, as well as efforts at encouraging climate smart agriculture. “Guyana is indeed a small country but a major contributor to the global effort to reduce carbon emissions from economic and social activities,” he said.

He also pointed out the move by some large businesses to incorporate renewable energy into their buildings and processes, and an attendant move by the government to enable further uptake of renewable energy. “In particular the Guyana Energy Agency and Guyana Power and Light Company are leading the final draft and implementation of the Draft Guyana Energy Policy (2017) and Guyana Energy Sector Strategic Plan (2015-2020), respectively. These policies outline anticipated energy demand, an optimal energy mix for Guyana including a 100 percent increase in renewable energy sources aligned to Guyana’s transition to an environmentally sustainable economy,” he said.

However, with an estimated four billion barrels of oil in its waters, the pull of oil money has been creating a shift in focus for some who might potentially have taken up working in green jobs. Small admits, “The shift is already happening. The magnitude of this sector will attract many highly skilled Guyanese. There have been some local concerns expressed about this, in particular in the case of engineers from the Public Infrastructure Ministry or [with regard to those] who would otherwise seek employment with this Ministry among others.”

Apart from labour market concerns, it remains to be seen how Guyana will live up to its Nationally Determined Contributions tabled last year. The country promised “to avoid emissions in the amount of 48.7 MtCO2e annually if adequate incentives are provided”, on the basis of its forest cover. If the four billion barrel estimate given is correct, Guyana’s reserves alone represent almost four-fifths of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 estimate of the amount of energy that will be generated by Latin America’s industrial sector including its fossil fuel industry in the years leading up to 2030. The IPCC estimates the approximately 33 EJ of energy (roughly equivalent to 5.4 billion barrels of oil) Latin America will generate up to 2030 will result in 2,417 MtCO2 emissions, making Guyana’s promises in support of the Paris Agreement inconsequential in the light of emissions its billions of barrels would produce.

Still, the ILO Caribbean’s Enterprise and Job Creation Specialist Kelvin Sergeant told IPS that the impact of oil and gas exploration on the green transition could go either way. “It can be positive or negative. Positive if the resources from the oil sector are used to develop the green economy and ensure sustainability of the environment and the rest of the society, especially the more vulnerable in the society. If this is not done, then there could be many new problems in the future.”

The ILO commissioned the “Skills for green jobs” in Guyana study, which was completed in 2017, because his organisation believes a green economy is a sustainable one. “The ILO places great emphasis on greening of the economy and green jobs. This is critical towards sustainable economies and societies,” Sergeant said.

“The ILO, however, argues that policies towards greening of the economy will have an impact on workers. There will be job losses, job gains or jobs will be redefined. Because of this, the ILO believes that any policy towards greening of the economy should be just and fair and must leave no one behind.”

The focus on fossil fuels “can be only detrimental if there is no trickling down of the gains from the oil sector The whole process has to be carefully managed to avoid Dutch disease and other problems which have plagued Caribbean countries that have oil,” he said. “There needs to be careful policies which ensure that everyone benefits from the oil finds.”

But Sergeant remains upbeat about the future of Guyana’s green economy. He said the focus on fossil fuel exploration does not mean efforts to promote green skills for a green economy are pointless. “It does not have to, if the guidelines for a just transition are followed.”   

The post Mixed Signals as Guyana Develops its Green Economy Strategy appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/mixed-signals-guyana-develops-green-economy-strategy/feed/ 0
When Salt Water Intrusion is Not Just a Threat But a Reality for Guyanese Farmershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/salt-water-intrusion-not-just-threat-reality-guyanese-farmers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=salt-water-intrusion-not-just-threat-reality-guyanese-farmers http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/salt-water-intrusion-not-just-threat-reality-guyanese-farmers/#respond Tue, 14 Aug 2018 07:46:03 +0000 Jewel Fraser http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157018 Mikesh Ram would watch his rice crops begin to rot during the dry season in Guyana, because salt water from the nearby Atlantic Ocean was displacing freshwater from the Mahaica River he and other farmers used to flood their rice paddies. The intrusion of salt water into the rice paddies had been happening off and […]

The post When Salt Water Intrusion is Not Just a Threat But a Reality for Guyanese Farmers appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Kaieteur Falls, Guyana. Guyanese farmers have been reporting salt water intrusion for a number of years. This especially happens during periods of drought and in those regions where irrigation water is sourced from rivers and creeks which drain into the Atlantic Ocean. Courtesy: Dan Sloan/CC By 2.0

By Jewel Fraser
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Aug 14 2018 (IPS)

Mikesh Ram would watch his rice crops begin to rot during the dry season in Guyana, because salt water from the nearby Atlantic Ocean was displacing freshwater from the Mahaica River he and other farmers used to flood their rice paddies.

The intrusion of salt water into the rice paddies had been happening off and on for the past 10 years, and he, like many other rice farmers in Regions 4 and 5 of Mahaica, Guyana, had sustained periodic financial losses due to the ocean overtopping the 200-year-old sea walls erected as barricades to the sea. And while 2015 was an unusually good year for Guyana’s rice harvest, the following year, 2016, saw a 16 percent drop in production.

Though the fall-off in production that year could not entirely be attributed to the salt water intrusion, expert sources say this was part of the problem. The United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service’s Commodity Intelligence Report notes that reduced rice production “was due to myriad problems including drought, water rationing, salt water intrusion, lack of crop rotation, less fertiliser input, and slower and lower returns to farmers.” It added that for the first rice crop of 2016, “about 20 percent was affected by drought and another 15 percent had salt water intrusion on fields.”“The knowledge of the [agricultural] extension officers in mitigating and adapting to the salt water intrusion is questionable, however, but a real education and awareness campaign should start with these officers who interact with farmers more frequently.” -- Heetasmin Singh

The rice-growing regions of Demerara-Mahaica and Berbice-Mahaica are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, located as they are six feet below sea level on Guyana’s Atlantic north coast.

Heetasmin Singh, who completed a master’s degree at the University of Guyana, presented a paper on the subject at the just concluded Latin America and Caribbean Congress for Conservation Biology, held Jul. 25-27 at the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies, Trinidad. Following her presentation, she told IPS via e-mail of some of the concerns farmers in the region have.

She said, “Farmers have been reporting salt water intrusion for a number of years, maybe as much as 10 years (or more) in certain regions of the country. This especially happens during periods of drought and in those regions where irrigation water is sourced from rivers and creeks which drain into the Atlantic Ocean (as opposed to a water conservancy or catchment)… the salt water intrusion is not just a threat, it is a reality for many of them.”

Farmer Mikesh’s son, Mark Ram, is a colleague of Singh as well as a scientific officer at the Centre for the Study of Biological Diversity at the University of Guyana. He told IPS that salt water intrusion normally occurs during the dry season when there is less fresh water because the rains have not fallen. He said the salinity had one of two effects on growing rice plants: it could either kill them or slow down their rate of growth,

“Usually, [salt water] affects the plant when they have just been planted because…we are required to flood the fields. So what we would do, we usually wait until it rains a bit, then flood the fields and add fertiliser. Then we release the water and then try to flood it again. It is at this time [when] the water becomes saline because the rain has not fallen that it affects the crop, it kills out the rice fields.” On the other hand, he said, “it can delay harvesting time because the rice is not going to grow as fast as it should.”

Sometimes, he said, “there is actual rotting of the plant” due to the water’s salinity.

To counteract the problems caused by salt water intrusion, farmers in the Mahaica region rely on fresh water supplies from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority. According to the USDA Commodity Intelligence Report, Guyana is “divided into water conservancy regions, [and] has developed an irrigation and dike infrastructure to help farmers use supplemental irrigation from reservoirs while protecting areas through levees from unseasonably heavy rains which could flood or erode land. To help the agricultural sector, starting in January 2016, Guyana’s National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) water authorities begin pumping available water into the drier conservancies.”

“Farmers ask the NDIA to release some of the fresh water from the major reservoirs,” Ram said.  “Once they receive this it reduces the salinity so that the water becomes usable.” However, no other adaptation or mitigation measures had so far been implemented by farmers, he said.

Singh noted via e-mail that “the knowledge of the [agricultural] extension officers in mitigating and adapting to the salt water intrusion is questionable, however, but a real education and awareness campaign should start with these officers who interact with farmers more frequently.”

She added, “Many farmers I interviewed saw the effects of the soil salinisation on their crops but many were not familiar with the term climate change or were not adapting best practices for ameliorating soil salinisation. They instead sought to solve their low crop yields issues with more fertilisers which would end up doing more harm than good for the crops.”

However, she notes that some will flush their fields and allow water and the salts to percolate through and past the root zone of the crops. Others will ensure their soils are deep ploughed to ensure faster percolation of salts past their crop root zone. With sea level rises for Guyana projected to rise anywhere from 14 cm to 5.94 metres in 2031; from 21 cm to 6.02 metres in 2051; and from 25 cm to 6.19 metres in 2071, the need for proactive adaptation and mitigation measures becomes ever more urgent.

The post When Salt Water Intrusion is Not Just a Threat But a Reality for Guyanese Farmers appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/salt-water-intrusion-not-just-threat-reality-guyanese-farmers/feed/ 0
Why the Flooding in Grenada is a Clear Reminder of its Vulnerability to Climate Changehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/flooding-grenada-clear-reminder-vulnerability-climate-change/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=flooding-grenada-clear-reminder-vulnerability-climate-change http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/flooding-grenada-clear-reminder-vulnerability-climate-change/#respond Wed, 08 Aug 2018 08:47:13 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157093 Grenada is still tallying the damage after heavy rainfall last week resulted in “wide and extensive” flooding that once again highlights the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to climate change. Officials here say extreme weather events like in 2004 and 2005 are still fresh in the minds of residents. Rising sea levels are […]

The post Why the Flooding in Grenada is a Clear Reminder of its Vulnerability to Climate Change appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Grenada is still tallying the damage after heavy rainfall last week resulted in “wide and extensive” flooding. Courtesy: Desmond Brown

By Desmond Brown
ST GEORGE’S, Aug 8 2018 (IPS)

Grenada is still tallying the damage after heavy rainfall last week resulted in “wide and extensive” flooding that once again highlights the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to climate change.
Officials here say extreme weather events like in 2004 and 2005 are still fresh in the minds of residents. Rising sea levels are leading to an erosion of coastlines, while hurricanes and tropical storms regularly devastate crucial infrastructure.

For three hours, between 9 am and 12 noon on Aug. 1, a tropical wave interacting with the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, lingered over the island, dumping several inches of rain, which resulted in rapidly-rising flood waters."We had so much rain over such a short period, the whole system was inundated, and it speaks clearly to the effects of climate change.”-- senator Winston Garraway, minister of state in the ministry of climate resilience.

The Maurice Bishop International Airport Meteorological Office recorded six inches of rain over the three-hour period, and officials said the interior of the island received significantly more rainfall. No recording of the island’s interior was immediately available.

“The flooding was wide and extensive,” senator Winston Garraway, minister of state in the ministry of climate resilience, told IPS.
“St. David and St George [parishes] were badly impacted and we have decided that both areas will be disaster areas.”

In St. David, Garraway said there were 60 landslides, and these have impacted on the road network in the parish which is the country’s main agriculture zone.

A total of nine homes in both parishes have been badly affected and families had to be relocated, Garraway said, adding that disaster officials are looking at either demolishing and rebuilding or relocating homes.
“The national stadium took a bad beating from the flood waters and this is likely to impact on activities going forward in the immediate future,” Garraway said.

Damage to the ground floor of the stadium also led to the postponement of one of the main carnival events.

Garraway, who also has responsibility for the environment, forestry, fisheries and disaster management, said the weather event was another clear remainder that Grenada and other SIDS are among the countries most vulnerable to climate change.

“We have been one of the strong proponents of the impact of climate change, so we’ve been training our people as it relates to mitigation measures. But we had so much rain over such a short period, the whole system was inundated, and it speaks clearly to the effects of climate change,” he said.

“One might ask, was there any chance of us mitigating against some of these challenges that we have seen? In some sense, I think yes, in a large sense, no. The system could not have absorbed the amount of water we had that short time.”

The minister of communication, works and public utilities, Gregory Bowen, agrees with Garraway that events like these highlight the effects of climate change on SIDS.

Bowen said there is an urgent need for grant financing to help at the community level.

“A lot of the flood waters passed through private lands. The state is responsible for state properties, but for private people, the size of drains that would have to run through their properties, they can’t afford it,” Bowen told IPS.

“So that is one area that we have to work on, getting granting financing to help the people. Because the rains come, and it will find its own path and it’s usually through private lands. If you have good drains you could properly channel the run off.

“So that is one critical component that we have to move on immediately. Millions of dollars are needed to be spent on that,” Bowen added.
But he said the island simply cannot afford to cover these costs, noting that Grenada only recently concluded a three-year, International Monetary Fund supported Structural Adjustment Programme.

While the formal impact assessment is still being done by the ministry of works in collaboration with the ministry of finance, officials here have already reached out to regional partners for support.

Garraway said officials at the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, have been in touch with local disaster management officials to ascertain the extent of the damage and the immediate assistance needed.

Meanwhile, epidemiologist in the ministry of health, Dr. Shawn Charles, has advised residents to stay away from the stagnant water resultant from the flooding. He warned that they may not only be contaminated with debris such as broken bottles and plastics, but pathogens that can cause life-threatening conditions.

“Flood water from the level of rainfall we received from that tropical wave is normally contaminated with all kinds of things and it’s not wise for anyone to expose themselves to it. There are all kinds of contaminants that can impact differently, so swimming, running and doing other things in that type of contaminated water should be avoided,” Charles told IPS.

“One of the life-threatening contaminants in flood water is droplets and urine from rats and that is the main transmitter for leptospirosis, and that disease can cause death. So, it’s not advisable for a person to just go about exposing themselves to flood water. It is just not wise; it can result in sickness. People need to be very cautious. Personal contact with flooded water should be avoided.”

The post Why the Flooding in Grenada is a Clear Reminder of its Vulnerability to Climate Change appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/flooding-grenada-clear-reminder-vulnerability-climate-change/feed/ 0
VIDEO: Climate Change Could Have Devastating Consequences for Saint Luciahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/video-climate-change-devastating-consequences-saint-lucia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=video-climate-change-devastating-consequences-saint-lucia http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/video-climate-change-devastating-consequences-saint-lucia/#respond Tue, 07 Aug 2018 11:14:05 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157104 The Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia is home to more than 2,000 native species — of which nearly 200 species occur nowhere else in the world. Though less than 616 square kilometres in area, the island is exceptionally rich in animals and plants. Saint Lucia’s best-known species, the endangered Amazon parrot, is recognised by […]

The post VIDEO: Climate Change Could Have Devastating Consequences for Saint Lucia appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
Climate Change Could Have Devastating Consequences for Saint Lucia

By Desmond Brown
CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Aug 7 2018 (IPS)

The Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia is home to more than 2,000 native species — of which nearly 200 species occur nowhere else in the world. Though less than 616 square kilometres in area, the island is exceptionally rich in animals and plants.

Saint Lucia’s best-known species, the endangered Amazon parrot, is recognised by its bright green plumage, purple forehead and dusty red-tipped feathers.

But a major conservation organisation warns that climate change and a lack of care for the environment could have devastating consequences for Saint Lucia’s healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity.

Sean Southey chairs the Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

He told IPS that urgent action is needed to safeguard the eastern Caribbean island nation’s biodiversity, which is under constant threat.

Other species of conservation concern include the pencil cedar, staghorn coral and St. Lucia racer. The racer, confined to the nine-hectare island of Maria Major, is thought to be the world’s most threatened sake. Also at risk are mangrove forests and low-lying freshwater wetlands, Southey said.

But he said it was not too late to take action. He urged St. Lucia and its Caribbean neighbours to take advantage of their small size.

 

The post VIDEO: Climate Change Could Have Devastating Consequences for Saint Lucia appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/video-climate-change-devastating-consequences-saint-lucia/feed/ 0
Caribbean Builds Resilience Through Enhanced Data Collectionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/caribbean-builds-resilience-enhanced-data-collection/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=caribbean-builds-resilience-enhanced-data-collection http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/caribbean-builds-resilience-enhanced-data-collection/#respond Tue, 31 Jul 2018 13:53:30 +0000 Zadie Neufville http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156973 By the end of September 2018, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) would have installed the last of five new data buoys in the Eastern Caribbean, extending the regional Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) network as it continues to build resilience to climate change in the Caribbean. At the same time, the centre […]

The post Caribbean Builds Resilience Through Enhanced Data Collection appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Meteorologists and hydro-met technicians assemble one of the 40 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) being installed by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) with funding from the USAID Climate Change Adaptation Program (USAID CCAP). Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

By Zadie Neufville
BELMOPAN, Jul 31 2018 (IPS)

By the end of September 2018, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) would have installed the last of five new data buoys in the Eastern Caribbean, extending the regional Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) network as it continues to build resilience to climate change in the Caribbean.

At the same time, the centre is also installing an additional 50 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) across nine countries to expand the existing network of hydro-meteorological stations- yet another push to improve data collection in the region. The data will help scientists to better evaluate potential risks and impacts, and provide the information national leaders seek to build more resilient infrastructures to mitigate climate risks.

Enhancing the data collection and availability is central to the centre’s mandate to prepare the Caribbean’s response to climate change, Dr Ulric Trotz science advisor and deputy executive director told IPS.

He noted: “Experts here are using the critical data they collect, to enhance models, design tools and develop strategies to mitigate and build resilience to the devastating impacts – rising seas, longer dry spells, more extreme rainfall and potentially higher impact tropical cyclones – associated with climate variability and change.”

Reporting in “Volume 1 of the Caribbean Climate Series,” released ahead of the 23rd Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change  in Germany in 2017, researchers at the University of the West Indies Climate Studies Group, Mona Campus, Jamaica, pointed out that the Caribbean is already experiencing the impacts associated with changes in climatic conditions.

According to the report, nights and days are warmer; air and sea surface temperatures are higher and there are longer and more frequent periods of droughts. Not surprisingly, after the 2017 hurricane season, researchers also reported increasing intensity in rainfalls and more intense hurricanes with stronger winds and lots more rain.

“Even if global warming beyond the 1°C already experienced were limited to only a further half a degree, there would still be consequences for the Caribbean region,” the report said.

Trotz explained: “These data gathering systems, which were acquired with funding from the USAID Climate Change Adaptation Programme, are increasing the volume of real-time data and enhancing the reliability and accuracy of weather and climate forecasting in the region”.

In addition to the super computers installed at CCCCC’s Belize location, the University of the West Indies’ Mona Campus and Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH)-under previous projects- the newly installed data points, are already enhancing the capacity of regional scientists to monitor and process the atmospheric and other environmental variables that are affected by the changes in climatic conditions.

The data collection efforts support evidence-based decision-making, and improve the accuracy of the projections from the regional and global climate models while building the region’s resilience to the impacts of climate variability and change. In the end, the information provided in the 1.5 Report which will form part of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change global assessment report AR6 as well as all other Caribbean forecasts and models promises to be more accurate and reliable.

“The data collected from these stations forms the baseline for all climate modelling, ensuring that we have a good baseline data to suffice our regional climate services models for regional forecast and predictions. The network strengthens the baseline for climate change projection models thereby increasing the confidence in the results that are used in the decision-making for climate change mitigation and adaptation,” Albert Jones, instrumentation technician at the 5Cs, told IPS.

The retired weather forecaster explained, that the new AWS are not only improving data collection, they are also expanding the capability and roles of local Met Offices from their historic roles of providing information for primarily aviation purposes.

The importance of these systems cannot be understated, particularly in countries like Guyana and Suriname where deficiencies in the data seriously hampers the coverage of areas with significant differences in the topography and climatic conditions. This is especially significant where comparisons of hinterland and elevated forested areas to the low-lying coastal flood plains are critical to development of lives and property.

The centre, which celebrates its 14th year of operation in July 2018, has worked with several donors over its existence to improve the collection of data in a region that largely depended on manual systems and where historical data has been hard to come by. The latter is an essential input for validation of the regional models required for the production of region-specific climate scenarios, which are utilised in impact studies across all of the affected sectors in the region. These in turn form the basis of crafting the adaptation responses required to build climate resilience in specific sectors.

Popularly known as the 5Cs, the climate change centre carries out its mandate through a network of partners including government meteorologists, hydrologists, university professors and researchers. Scientists and researchers in Universities across the region and at specialist institutions like the Barbados-based CIMH, do the data crunching.

“We are building climate and weather early warning systems to build resilience, so it is important that we collect and turn this data into useful information that will benefit the society,” CIMH’s principal Dr David Farrell told hydro-met technicians at a USAID sponsored training on the grounds of the institute in March.

He noted that in designing the system, the CIMH- that has responsibility for maintaining the network- identified and reduced existing deficiencies to improve the quality of data collected.

And as global temperatures continue to soar, the World Meteorological Organisation 2018 report noted that 2017 was “was one of the world’s three warmest years on record.”

It said: “A combination of five datasets, three of them using conventional surface observations and two of them re-analysis, shows that global mean temperatures were 0.46 °C ± 0.1 °C above the 1981–2010 average, and about 1.1 °C ± 0.1 °C above pre-industrial levels. By this measure, 2017 and 2015 were effectively indistinguishable as the world’s second and third warmest years on record, ranking only behind 2016, which was 0.56 °C above the 1981−2010 average.”

With studies pointing to a warmer Caribbean and an increase in the frequency of extreme events, regional scientists are committed to improving the way they use data to guide governments on the actions that will lessen the expected impacts. In 2017, extreme weather events in the form of Hurricanes Irma and Maria claimed lives, destroyed livelihoods and infrastructure, throwing islands like Barbuda, Dominica and the Virgin Islands back several decades.

In identifying extreme weather events as “the most prominent risk facing humanity”, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2018 noted: “Fuelled by warm sea-surface temperatures, the North Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest ever for the United States, and eradicated decades of development gains in small islands in the Caribbean such as Dominica. Floods uprooted millions of people on the Indian subcontinent, whilst drought is exacerbating poverty and increasing migration pressures in the Horn of Africa.”

The CREWS network is part of a global system to improve the monitoring and management of coral reefs as environmental and climatic conditions increases coral bleaching and death. The centre works in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric and Administration to install monitoring stations that collect data on climate, marine and biological parameters for use by scientists to conduct research into the health of coral reefs in changing climatic and sea conditions.

Under previous funding arrangements, CREWS stations were also installed in Belize, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic, as well as other parts of the region.

The post Caribbean Builds Resilience Through Enhanced Data Collection appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/caribbean-builds-resilience-enhanced-data-collection/feed/ 0
Building the Caribbean’s Climate Resilience to Ensure Basic Survivalhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/building-caribbeans-climate-resilience-ensure-basic-survival/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=building-caribbeans-climate-resilience-ensure-basic-survival http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/building-caribbeans-climate-resilience-ensure-basic-survival/#respond Mon, 23 Jul 2018 09:13:01 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156816 In 2004, when the Category 4 hurricane Ivan hit the tiny island nation of Grenada and its 151 mph winds stalled overhead for 15 hours–it devastated the country. But not before pummelling Barbados and other islands, killing at least 15 people. And again last year, the destruction left behind in several Caribbean islands by Hurricanes […]

The post Building the Caribbean’s Climate Resilience to Ensure Basic Survival appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Grenada has rebounded after being destroyed by Category 4 hurricane Ivan in 2004 which destroyed 90 percent of homes. More than a decade later, the island’s prime minister Dr. Keith Mitchell says adjusting to the new normal requires comprehensive and coordinated efforts to mainstream climate change considerations in development planning. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
ST GEORGE’S, Jul 23 2018 (IPS)

In 2004, when the Category 4 hurricane Ivan hit the tiny island nation of Grenada and its 151 mph winds stalled overhead for 15 hours–it devastated the country. But not before pummelling Barbados and other islands, killing at least 15 people.

And again last year, the destruction left behind in several Caribbean islands by Hurricanes Irma and Maria once again highlighted the vulnerability of these island countries.

It has also emphasised the need for a strong natural resource base to protect and make communities and ecosystems more resilient to the impacts of climate change, which are expected to become even more severe in the future.“We have seen first-hand how poverty and social weaknesses magnify natural disasters. This need not be the case.” -- Grenada’s prime minister Dr. Keith Mitchell

“Building the region’s resilience to climate change, natural hazards and environmental changes is not only a necessary and urgent development imperative, but it is also a fundamental requirement to ensure our basic survival as a people,” Grenada’s prime minister Dr. Keith Mitchell told IPS.

“We have no choice as a region but to pursue climate-smart development, as we forge ahead to build a climate-resilient Caribbean.”

Grenada is among 10 Caribbean countries getting help from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to address water, land and biodiversity resource management as well as climate change.

Under the five-year Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF-IWEco Project), countries are implementing national sub-projects at specific sites in order to enhance livelihood opportunities and socio-economic co-benefits for targeted communities from improved ecosystem services functioning.

Project sites include the upper reaches of the Soufriere Watershed in Saint Lucia, the Cedar Grove and Cooks Watershed areas and McKinnons Pond in Antigua, and the Negril Morass in Jamaica.

“Adjusting to the new normal requires comprehensive and coordinated efforts to mainstream climate change considerations in development planning,” Mitchell said.

“In practice, this will require a shift in focus, from sustainable development to climate-smart sustainable development.”

In addition to Grenada―Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago ―are also participating in the project, which also aims to strengthen policy, legislative and institutional reforms and capacity building.

Half of the 10 countries ― Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and; St. Vincent & the Grenadines ― belong to the sub-regional grouping, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Their participation in the project is being funded by the GEF to the tune of USD20 million.

IWEco is being co-implemented by United Nations Environment and the U.N. Development Programme and co-executed by U.N. Environment’s Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (U.N. Environment CAR RCU), which is the Secretariat to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (the Cartagena Convention).

All OECS countries are signatories to the Cartagena Convention, a comprehensive, umbrella agreement for the protection and development of the marine environment.

Fresh and coastal water resources management, sustainable land management and sustainable forest management are all challenges to Caribbean SIDS, and more so as the region’s economies face numerous demands and, inevitably, another hurricane season.

Addressing these challenges while improving social and ecological resilience to the impacts of climate change are objectives of the IWEco Project.

Stating that storms and hurricanes do not have to result in catastrophic disasters, Mitchell said in too many instances in the region this has been the case because of the prevailing susceptibilities of communities.

“We have seen first-hand how poverty and social weaknesses magnify natural disasters. This need not be the case,” he said.

“We must redouble our efforts to improve the conditions for the most vulnerable in our societies so that they are empowered and supported to manage disasters and climate risks.”

Grenada, along with all participating countries, will benefit from regional project activities aimed at strengthening policy, legislative and institutional frameworks, strengthening monitoring and evaluation, and public awareness.

At a recent meeting in Montserrat, the regional coordinator of the Cartagena Convention, Dr. Lorna Inniss noted that since the particularly destructive hurricane season of 2017, perhaps even as a consequence of it, the trend in the region towards consolidating several related areas of responsibility into single ministries seems to have grown.

Grenada, for instance, now has the combined ministry of climate resilience, the environment, forestry, fisheries, disaster management and information. Dominica now has the ministry of environment, climate resilience, disaster management and urban renewal.

The most recent projections in climate research all anticipate a significant increase in the frequency and/or intensity of extreme weather events, as well as slow onset climate-related changes, such as sea-level rise, less rainfall and increased sea surface temperatures.

These impacts can disrupt Grenada’s economy and critical economic sectors like agriculture and tourism and damage critical infrastructure and personal property.

The findings of a regional study concluded that climate change has the potential to increase the overall cost to local economies by one to three percent of GDP by 2030 in the Caribbean. It also alters the risk profile of the islands by impacting local sea levels, hurricane intensity, precipitation patterns and temperature patterns.

According to the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), in absolute terms, expected losses may triple between 2010 and 2030. Climate change adaptation is therefore critical for the economic stability of the tri-island state.

“Charting a course to 2030 is even more an urgent requirement as the impacts of climate change are increasingly affecting CCRIF’s Caribbean and Central American member countries,” CCRIF CEO, Isaac Anthony said.

The post Building the Caribbean’s Climate Resilience to Ensure Basic Survival appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/building-caribbeans-climate-resilience-ensure-basic-survival/feed/ 0