Inter Press ServiceCaribbean Climate Wire – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Sat, 18 Nov 2017 01:29:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 Back-to-Back Hurricanes Take Heavy Toll on the Caribbeanhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/back-back-hurricanes-take-heavy-roll-caribbean/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=back-back-hurricanes-take-heavy-roll-caribbean http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/back-back-hurricanes-take-heavy-roll-caribbean/#respond Wed, 04 Oct 2017 16:58:24 +0000 Antonio Guterres http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152351 António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

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A seven-year old boy stands in front of debris as Hurricane Irma moves off from the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. Credit: UNICEF/UN0119399

By António Guterres
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 4 2017 (IPS)

As you know, we are coming off a jam-packed High-level week and opening of the General Assembly. Some of the most important speeches during that period came from leaders of Caribbean nations reeling from back-to-back hurricanes.

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda reported that the entire population of Barbuda had been left homeless. The Prime Minister of Dominica declared that he had come to the United Nations “straight from the front line of the war on climate change”.

Today I am announcing that I will travel on Saturday (October 7) to Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica to survey the damage and to assess what more the United Nations can do to help people recover, visiting of course also the operations that are taking place there.

When I met them last month, I was struck most of all by a prevailing message from all the Caribbean leaders – including from the hardest hit countries. Yes, they said, we urgently need support today. But even in the wake of utter devastation, they urged the world to act for tomorrow.

As I said in my address to the General Assembly, we should not link any single weather event with climate change. But scientists are clear that such extreme weather is precisely what their models predict, and they predict it will be the new normal of a warming world. I would like to share some relevant data about what we are seeing.

First, some facts about this year’s Atlantic hurricane season. Hurricane Irma, which devastated Barbuda, was a Category 5 hurricane for three consecutive days – this is the longest on satellite record. Irma’s winds reached 300 kilometers per hour for 37 hours — the longest on record at that intensity.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma marked the first time that two Category 4 storms made landfall in the United States in the same year. And, of course, they were followed by Hurricane Maria, which decimated Dominica and had severe impacts across Puerto Rico.

It is rare to see so many storms of such strength so early in the season.

Second, some facts about the changes in major climate systems. Sea levels have risen more than 10 inches since 1870. Over the past 30 years, the number of annual weather-related disasters has nearly tripled, and economic losses have quintupled.

Scientists are learning more and more about the links between climate change and extreme weather. Climate change is warming the seas. This, in turn, means more water vapor in the atmosphere. When storms come, they bring more rain.

A warmer climate turbocharges the intensity of hurricanes. Instead of dissipating, they pick up fuel as they move across the ocean. The melting of glaciers, and the thermal expansion of the seas, means bigger storm surges. With more and more people living on coastlines, the damage is, and will be that much greater.

Scientific models have long predicted an increase in the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes. This is precisely what is happening – and even sooner than expected. To date, the United Nations and its partners have provided a variety of humanitarian assistance to the Caribbean region by air and by sea: 18 tons of food; 3 million water purification tablets; 3,000 water tanks; 2,500 tents; 2,000 mosquito nets and school kits; 500 debit cards for cash assistance; and much else.

We have launched appeals for $113.9 million to cover humanitarian needs for the immediate period ahead. I commend those countries that are showing solidarity with the Caribbean countries at this time of dire need, including those doing so through South-South cooperation.

But on the whole, I regret to report, the response has been poor. I urge donors to respond more generously in the weeks to come. The United Nations will continue to help countries in the Caribbean to strengthen disaster preparedness, working closely with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

We are strongly committed to helping small island states and, indeed, all countries to adapt to inevitable climate impacts, to increase the pace of recovery and to strengthen resilience overall. Innovative financing mechanisms will be crucial in enabling countries, like the Caribbean ones, to cope with external shocks of such significant magnitude.

We know that the world has the tools, the technologies and the wealth to address climate change. But we must show more determination in moving towards a green, clean, sustainable energy future. Once again, I urge countries to implement the Paris Agreement, and with greater ambition.

That is why I will convene a Climate Summit in 2019, as you know. But today and every day, I am determined to ensure that the United Nations works to protect our common future and to seize the opportunities of climate action.

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Latest Major Hurricane Leaves Dominica “Devastated”http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/09/latest-major-hurricane-leaves-dominica-devastated/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latest-major-hurricane-leaves-dominica-devastated http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/09/latest-major-hurricane-leaves-dominica-devastated/#comments Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:07:56 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152156 As Hurricane Maria continues to barrel its way across the Caribbean, details are slowly emerging of the number of deaths and the extent of the devastation left in its wake in Dominica. Maria made landfall on the tiny island of 72,000 on the evening of Sept. 18 with maximum sustained winds of nearly 160 miles […]

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A tree felled by the outer bands of Hurricane Maria in Antigua. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

A tree felled by the outer bands of Hurricane Maria in Antigua. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Sep 20 2017 (IPS)

As Hurricane Maria continues to barrel its way across the Caribbean, details are slowly emerging of the number of deaths and the extent of the devastation left in its wake in Dominica.

Maria made landfall on the tiny island of 72,000 on the evening of Sept. 18 with maximum sustained winds of nearly 160 miles per hour.“Our governments must redouble their determination to confront the naysayers of climate change, however big and powerful they may be." --Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Lester Bird

Hartley Henry, Principal Advisor to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, said he had spoken with the prime minister early this morning via satellite phone.

“It’s difficult to determine the level of fatalities but so far seven are confirmed, as a direct result of the hurricane,” Henry said in a message. “That figure, the Prime Minister fears, will rise as he wades his way into the rural communities today, Wednesday. The urgent needs now are roofing materials for shelters, bedding supplies for hundreds stranded in or outside what’s left of their homes and food and water drops for residents of outlying districts inaccessible at the moment.

“The country is in a daze – no electricity, no running water – as a result of uprooted pipes in most communities and definitely to landline or cellphone services on island, and that will be for quite a while.

“In summary, the island has been devastated. The housing stock significantly damaged or destroyed. All available public buildings are being used as shelters; with very limited roofing materials evident. The country needs the support and continued help and prayers of all.”

In a Facebook message a few hours after Maria’s arrival, Skerrit said the island’s immediate priority was to rescue people who were trapped and provide medical care to the injured.

“I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating… indeed, mind-boggling,” Skerrit said.

The Prime Minister had earlier posted that roofs were being torn off everywhere by the powerful storm’s winds. He himself had to be rescued from his official residence.

Following Skerrit’s social media posts, everything went silent. Communication with Dominica since then has been close to impossible.

According to Henry, “Little contact has been made with the outer communities but persons who walked 10 and 15 miles towards the city of Roseau from various outer districts report total destruction of homes, some roadways and crops.

“Urgent helicopter services are needed to take food, water and tarpaulins to outer districts for shelter. Canefield airport can accommodate helicopter landings and it is expected that from today, the waters around the main Roseau port will be calm enough to accommodate vessels bringing relief supplies and other forms of assistance.”

Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne said Wednesday, “The last I’ve heard, which would have been this morning, is that there is widespread damage to property, there has been up to seven fatalities so far. I understand that there are some remote areas that they have been unable to get to.

“They are asking for supplies including tarpaulin, water, food cots. As you know, in the case of Antigua and Barbuda, we have some supplies here. We are awaiting the all-clear so that a chopper that we have on stand-by could fly into Dominica. They have not given any landing permission yet so we are just waiting to hear from them.

Browne added that he spoke with Skerrit the night of the hurricane until after he lost his roof.

Dominica was still in the recovery phase following Tropical Storm Erika which hit the island on Aug. 27, 2015, killing more than two dozen people, leaving nearly 600 homeless and wreaked damages totalling more than a billion dollars.

That storm dumped 15 inches of rain on the mountainous island, caused floods and mudslides and set the country back 20 years, according to Skerrit. The island was inadequately prepared for a storm such as Erika. Many roads and bridges were simply not robust enough to withstand such high volumes of water.

In a national address shortly following the storm, Skerrit said that hundreds of homes, bridges and roads had been destroyed and millions of dollars in financial aid were needed to help the country bounce back.

“In order to get back to where we were before Tropical Storm Erika struck, we have to source at least 88.2 million dollars for the productive sector, 334.55 million for infrastructure and 60.09 million for the social sectors,” Skerrit said.

Skerrit and his counterparts in the Caribbean have long argued that large industrialized nations are to blame for the drastic change in the climate and the more frequent and stronger hurricanes being witnessed in region.

“Climate change is real.  We are the victims of climate change because of the profligacy in the use of fossil fuels by the large industrialized nations,” Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne told IPS on his way to the 72nd General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.

“These nations, that have contributed to global warming and sea level rise, have an obligation to assist in the rebuilding of these islands. The funds required to rebuild is beyond their means and I join the clarion call of Sir Richard Branson, for a Marshall plan to rebuild the islands.

“Our common humanity, as citizens of a common space, called planet earth mandates a spirit of empathy and cooperation among all nations, large and small,” Browne told IPS.

Just over a week earlier, Browne’s own country Antigua and Barbuda suffered a similar fate as Dominica when Hurricane Irma decimated Barbuda, the smaller island of the twin-island nation.

A powerful Hurricane Irma, churned its way across the tiny island, killing a two-year-old child and leaving millions of dollars in damages.

When Irma’s core slammed into Barbuda, its maximum sustained winds were 185-mph, well above the 157-mph threshold of a Category 5 storm.

Browne estimates that it will take up to 300 million dollars to rebuild Barbuda, home to 1,800 people. All of the island’s inhabitants had to be evacuated to mainland Antigua after the hurricane.

At the time, Irma was one of three hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, the first time since 2010 that three active hurricanes have been in the Atlantic, according to reports.

“The whole idea is to deal with this Barbuda situation and to speak to the issue of climate change,” Browne said of his attendance at the United Nations General Assembly.

“I don’t think they care,” Browne said when asked if he believed the United States in particularly would be listening very carefully to what he has to say.

“But we have an obligation at the same time to advocate on what is clearly an existential threat, one of the most significant threats facing the planet. And no matter what they think, I know that America think that their interest is first, second, third until they get to last but we have a common humanity, we all occupy a planet called Earth and as far as we are concerned we are all inter-dependent on each other and perhaps sooner than later they will come to that reality,” Browne said.

During a special sitting of Parliament to discuss the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma on Barbuda, former Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Lester Bird said it’s time the “naysayers of climate change” wake up and face reality.

“Our governments must redouble their determination to confront the naysayers of climate change, however big and powerful they may be, even when we have a President of the United States, who should really be chastised for withdrawing the United States from [the Paris Climate Agreement],” Bird said.

Although the United States remains part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in June this year 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 US by domestic regulations anyway).

“Hurricane Irma nails the lie to all who claim that climate change and global warming are fantasies,” said Bird, who served as the second prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, from 1994 to 2004.

“The increased heat of the sea fed Irma’s size and intensity. The world has never witnessed a hurricane of the strength and size of Irma when it stormed through Barbuda leaving destruction and devastation in its path. Little Barbuda stood no chance against such a gigantic force,” Bird said.

“That is why I urge the government to continue to fight in the international community for mitigation against climate change and for the means to build up resilience in our island states; not just Barbuda but all of the island states that are low level.

“The prospect of climate change could even bring Tsunamis and undermine the existence of these islands as is demonstrated in Barbuda,” Bird added.

Meantime, Bird said Caribbean civilization is under threat because of climate change.

“Barbuda now lies prostrate, dispirited and depressed, a mangled wreck as the Prime Minister [Gaston Browne] has said. It is positive proof that the very existence of our civilization is now under deadly threat,” Bird said.

“This is the first time since the 18th century that there is no human person legally living on Barbuda. Over 300 years of human habitation has been abruptly interrupted. That must not be the fate of our island communities. Our heritage, our civilization, our identity depends on it.”

Hurricane Maria is the third in a string of devastating hurricanes to sweep through the region in recent weeks.

Some 42 deaths have been blamed on Hurricane Irma which has decimated many countries in the Caribbean including Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and the Dutch and French island of St. Maarten / St. Martin.

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Caribbean Picks Up the Pieces After Monster Stormhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/09/caribbean-picks-pieces-monster-storm/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=caribbean-picks-pieces-monster-storm http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/09/caribbean-picks-pieces-monster-storm/#respond Fri, 15 Sep 2017 11:27:31 +0000 Kenton X. Chance http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152090 When Hurricane Irma ripped through the British Virgins Islands on Sept. 6, claiming seven lives, injuring an unknown number of people and destroying built infrastructure as well as significantly damaging the natural environment, the ferocity of the storm shocked many of the islands’ residents, including 72-year-old Egbert Smith, who has lived through plenty of severe […]

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Hurricane Irma left significant damage to public infrastructure, housing, tourism, commerce, and the natural environment in the British Virgin Islands. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

Hurricane Irma left significant damage to public infrastructure, housing, tourism, commerce, and the natural environment in the British Virgin Islands. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

By Kenton X. Chance
ROAD TOWN, British Virgin Islands, Sep 15 2017 (IPS)

When Hurricane Irma ripped through the British Virgins Islands on Sept. 6, claiming seven lives, injuring an unknown number of people and destroying built infrastructure as well as significantly damaging the natural environment, the ferocity of the storm shocked many of the islands’ residents, including 72-year-old Egbert Smith, who has lived through plenty of severe storms.

“I seen a lot of hurricanes pass through here, but I never seen none like this. Never!” he told IPS from what was left of his home in Sophers Hole, a resort community toward the western end of Tortola, the largest and main island in the BVI.“If you read the climate change literature, as shocking as it is to experience this sort of disaster, there is nothing here that is a surprise." --Camillo Gonsalves, minister of sustainable development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Across from Smith’s beachfront patio, the storm deposited a large catamaran onto the roof of a one-storey building, shredding a large part of the pleasure craft.

On the other end of the bay, the Jost Van Dyke ferry terminal lay in ruins, its roof ripped off, and a large SUV pinned on top of raised a metal platform, the mangled vehicle having been deposited there by the storm surge.

“They say it was a category 5 but I think it was more than that. It might have been more than that,” Smith said of the monster storm, which lashed the island with 185 mph winds.

Before enduring Irma, Smith considered Hurricane Marilyn of 1995 to have been a terrible hurricane. But not anymore.

“This one was bad,” he tells IPS of the storm, which trashed his bedroom and its contents as his wife hid inside a closet and he just put his feet up on a chair and relaxed, having given up on trying to pick up items that were falling in his house during the passage of the hurricane.

On Sept. 14, a full week after the storm, the British Virgin Islands was still struggling to get basic systems back on track, with disaster managers forced to seek refuge in the recently constructed New Peebles Hospital after Irma destroyed their headquarters.

In addition to the dead and injured, the storm left widespread damage to the road infrastructure, housing stock, ports, telecommunications, electrical infrastructure and critical facilities.

Hurricane Irma had the most devastating impact on Sophers Hole, according to 72-year-old resident, Egbert Smith. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

Governor of the British Overseas Territory, Augustus Jaspert, declared a state of emergency on Sept. 7 and on Sept. 11, he extended by three hours the curfew put in place three days earlier, ordering citizens to remain indoors between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. to give disaster responders an opportunity to respond to the mammoth clean-up and recovery.

Disaster officials say a preliminary assessment indicated that 60 to 80 per cent of the buildings throughout the territory are damaged or destroyed, with a large percentage of the roofs severely compromised.

Approximately 351 persons are being accommodated in 10 temporary shelters and 106 persons were evacuated from Anegada, another of the islands, prior to impact.

One week after the storm, disaster managers were still considering options for housing the large number of displaced persons.

The municipal supply of water supply is not functional due to the lack of electricity and there was a limited stock of potable water available, with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay providing a limited supply to Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke, two of the smaller islands in the territory.

Both of the desalination plants on Virgin Gorda, which has a population of 3,500, were destroyed.

The electricity generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure across the islands has been severely damaged and electricity is only being provided through generators.

Caribbean Cellular Telephone Ltd., the leading wireless provider in the BVI is not functioning and Digicel has coverage only in Road Town, the main city, while Flow has sporadic coverage throughout the territory.

The road infrastructure has been severely damaged and heavy equipment operators have been deployed to all districts and have been working to clear roads to at least single lane traffic.

The hurricane cut a similar swathe of destruction across other islands in the northeastern Caribbean before slamming into Florida last weekend, leaving more than six million people without power and many thousands in shelters. Overall, the storm claimed at least 14 lives in the so-called Sunshine State, six in the coastal U.S. states of South Carolina and Georgia, and 38 across the Caribbean, though some estimates are even higher.

It also came on the heels of yet another devastating hurricane – Harvey – which sideswiped Barbados and caused catastrophic flooding in the U.S. Gulf state of Texas, where 82 people died and more than 30,000 were displaced.

Camillo Gonsalves, minister of sustainable development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, was among the officials from the Caribbean Community — a regional bloc of nations of which the BVI is an associate member — who visited the BVI in the aftermath of Irma.

Gonsalves visited to assess the situation in the territory and to ascertain what help Kingstown could provide, as well as to inquire into the welfare of Vincentian nationals, who make up 10 per cent of the population of the BVI.

The minister, who, as a diplomat, had helped was among the team of negotiators who ensured the interest of small island development states was captured in the 2015 Paris climate accord, said that those who have been paying close enough attention should not be surprised by the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma.

“If you read the climate change literature, as shocking as it is to experience this sort of disaster, there is nothing here that is a surprise,” he told IPS, adding that forecasters have long warned that with there would be more frequent and intense tropical cyclones as a result of climate change.

“You can’t point to any one storm and say this storm here was created by climate change but any casual reading of the scientific literature tells you this is going to happen in this area and it is going to affect livelihoods, it is going to affect infrastructure, it is going to affect just the way these countries exist and it is going to happen more and more in the future,” Gonsalves said.

The Caribbean and other countries in the region, including the United States, are losing lives and suffering tens of billions of dollars in damages from severe hurricanes such as Irma and other weather events – at a time when Washington seems to want to reopen the debate about the role of human activity in the well-documented warming of planet and what must be done to prevent it from getting even worse.

But Gonsalves is convinced that there is no debate about the causes of climate change and what must be done to mitigate against and adapt to it.

“We didn’t create this problem,” he said, adding that Caribbean nations, as small islands, have to assist one another and to band together in solidarity even as they are among the worst affected by climate change, notwithstanding their negligible contribution to it.

“Those who created this problem have a special responsibility to satisfy their debt to humanity and to assist countries like this not only recover from storms but adapt to the already changing circumstances and climate,” Gonsalves told IPS.

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Dominica’s Geothermal Dream About to Become Realityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/09/dominicas-geothermal-dream-become-reality/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dominicas-geothermal-dream-become-reality http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/09/dominicas-geothermal-dream-become-reality/#respond Wed, 06 Sep 2017 22:35:39 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151959 The tiny Caribbean island of Dominica has moved one step closer to its dream of constructing a geothermal plant, a project that is expected to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels. The Dominica government is contributing 40.5 million dollars towards the project and has been seeking to raise the additional funds from various sources. […]

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Dominica says it plans to establish a small geothermal plant despite a few “hiccups’’ with investors. Credit: Charles Jong

Dominica says it plans to establish a small geothermal plant despite a few “hiccups’’ with investors. Credit: Charles Jong

By Desmond Brown
ROSEAU, Dominica, Sep 6 2017 (IPS)

The tiny Caribbean island of Dominica has moved one step closer to its dream of constructing a geothermal plant, a project that is expected to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.

The Dominica government is contributing 40.5 million dollars towards the project and has been seeking to raise the additional funds from various sources.The road towards geothermal has been a long and arduous, not only for Dominica but also its Caribbean neighbours.

“In addition to government’s contribution we have secured all the funds required to construct the plant from our development partners,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said, noting that the funding will include EC$30 million from Britain, EC$5.4 million from New Zealand and also EC$5.4 million from SIDS DOCK.

SIDS DOCK is an initiative among member countries of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) to provide the Small Island Developing States with a collective institutional mechanism to assist them transform their national energy sectors into a catalyst for sustainable economic development and help generate financial resources to address adaptation to climate change.

It is called SIDS DOCK because it is designed as a “DOCKing station,” to connect the energy sector in SIDS with the global market for finance, sustainable energy technologies and with the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) carbon markets, and able to trade the avoided carbon emissions in those markets. Estimates place the potential value of the US and EU markets between 100 to 400 billion dollars annually.

Skerrit noted that the environmental and social impact assessment for the geothermal project is ongoing in the Roseau valley.

“Every effort will be made to ensure that adverse impacts on the communities and the environment will be mitigated,” he said, adding that land owners in the area can also expect to be compensated for use of their property and support will be provided to residents who occupy lands to ensure that they are not left worst off.

The designs for the plant are progressing and should be completed by the third quarter of 2017.

“Once the plant has been commissioned, the DGDC will sell power to DOMLEC (Dominica Electricity Company) to be distributed throughout the country.

“So far, I have been advised, that based on the regulations of the Independent Regulatory Commission (IRC) DOMLEC must pass on the lower tariff to the consumer. That is to say DOMLEC is not allowed to add to the cost at which the power will be sold. This will ensure that the lower cost of electricity from geothermal will pass through to the consumers of our country,” Skerrit said, adding that negotiations are ongoing with DOMLEC to finalize the terms of the power purchase agreement.

Dominica has also applied for grant funding from the United Arab Emirates Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund and is expecting between EC$8.1 million and EC$13.5 million to fund a battery storage system to be used on the national electricity grid.

Skerrit said funding for this project will also be obtained from the World Bank in the form of a loan of EC$16.2 million at a highly concessionary rate of 0.75 per cent with a 10-year grace period and 44-year repayment plan.

“We have invested millions thus far,” Skerrit said, adding he is confident citizens “all look forward to the significant reduction in the cost of energy that will follow”.

He said the development of the plant “will be a positive impact on businesses and this should also stimulate investments by others establishing new businesses”.

The road towards geothermal has been a long and arduous, not only for Dominica but also Caribbean neighbours St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Last December, Energy Minister Ian Douglas said Dominica was moving closer to harnessing geothermal energy.

He said the Dominica Geothermal Company had been registered, and planning of the power plant is progressing.

“We are moving ever closer to the vision of realizing power from our geothermal resources. The Dominica Geothermal Company has been duly registered, and plans for the construction of the power plant are progressing satisfactorily,” he stated.

This follows a decision made by the government to run the geothermal project as a company solely owned by the government and people of Dominica.

Earlier this year, the St. Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission said financing and government policy had been identified as the major challenges to the development of geothermal energy in the Eastern Caribbean.

A survey, conducted by the Energy Unit of the OECS Commission, gathered the views of 86 people involved in geothermal energy, half of whom were based in the OECS region.

The respondents of the survey were geothermal stakeholders working with or with an interest in geothermal energy in the nine-member sub-region.

According to the OECS Commission, most of the respondents (82 percent) were employees of government or utility companies pursuing geothermal energy initiatives.

With respect to non-OECS respondents, almost 50 percent were private sector geothermal experts with past experience working on geothermal projects.

“There was clear consensus amongst all survey participants that finance and government policy are the main challenges to geothermal energy development in the region. These were followed closely by competition from other energy sources, and technological issues,’ the Commission said.

It said the majority of survey participants would like to see the establishment of a regional mechanism to support geothermal development in the region.

“The geothermal stakeholders are convinced that such a mechanism would be beneficial to the industry, especially as it relates to policy, legislation, and regulations.”

The Commission noted that all countries of the Eastern Caribbean are almost totally dependent on imported fossil fuels, despite their significant potential for renewable energy such as solar, hydro, wind, and geothermal.

In recent years geothermal energy has emerged as a priority for the OECS region. Currently, seven of the ten OECS member states are working towards the development of their geothermal resources. The scientific evidence shows a strong potential for development as countries continue to assess and quantify their geothermal potential.

The Bouillante geothermal plant on the French island of Guadeloupe is the only geothermal power plant currently operating in the Caribbean. It’s been operating since 1986 and currently provides about six percent of the electricity in Guadeloupe.

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“New Normal” for the U.S., All Too Familiar for the Caribbeanhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/new-normal-u-s-familiar-caribbean/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-normal-u-s-familiar-caribbean http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/new-normal-u-s-familiar-caribbean/#respond Thu, 31 Aug 2017 11:33:24 +0000 Kenton X. Chance http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151854 The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines says it hopes that the devastating loss and damage that Hurricane Harvey has wrought in Texas might inspire the government of President Donald Trump to rethink its position on climate change. Hurricane Harvey, the strongest storm to hit the United States since 2005 and the costliest in […]

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Pearland, Texas after Hurricane Harvey made landfall. Credit: Brant Kelly/cc by 2.0

By Kenton X. Chance
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Aug 31 2017 (IPS)

The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines says it hopes that the devastating loss and damage that Hurricane Harvey has wrought in Texas might inspire the government of President Donald Trump to rethink its position on climate change.

Hurricane Harvey, the strongest storm to hit the United States since 2005 and the costliest in U.S. history in terms of damage, made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25 and left much of Houston and other parts of the state under feet of floodwater."We must be touched with the feeling of their distress and their loss and their grief and their anguish, because we are subject to the same." --Minister of Foreign Affairs Louis Straker

Harvey made its way to the United States about a week after it passed near St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other countries in the Caribbean.

Residents of this eastern Caribbean nation breathed a sign of relief after the only lasting sign of the passage of the storm was some flooding in Bequia, the largest and northern-most of the Grenadine islands.

Harvey made landfall in Texas for a second time in less than a week on Tuesday and the damage it left in the “Lone Star State” was a reminder to Vincentians of the power of tropical cyclones and the damage that they have caused over the last decade in this multi-island nation.

“I wonder what we would be doing if we had that sort of persistent rain. I trust that what is happening in Houston will open the eyes of a lot of people worldwide with regards to climate change,” Minister of Transportation and Works, Sen. Julian Francis told a press conference in Kingstown on Monday.

Francis was updating the media on a road repair programme and the annual road-cleaning that came ahead of September, which is traditionally the heart of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.

The minister noted that the programme, which normally runs for 10 days, was reduced to eight because of the passage of Tropical Storm Harvey.

But the two days of work that the temporary workers employed under the programme lost as a result of the storm was nothing compared to the damage and loss left by less powerful weather systems over the past few years.

AMO and Special Operations agents conduct rescue with CBP UH-1N helicopter as part of Hurricane Harvey response. Credit: Public domain

The senator, who also has ministerial responsibilities for local government, expressed sympathy for the victims of Harvey but also criticized President Trump, who shortly after taking office pulled the United States out of the global Paris Accord to reduce the greenhouse emissions driving climate change and severe weather, has attempted to cut government funding for the agencies that monitor climate, and has long downplayed the problem while promoting the fossil fuel industry over renewables.

“It is pouring down on the fourth largest city in the United States of America but we know what the position of the sitting president and his administration is with regards to climate change.

“So I trust this comes as an eye-opener to the administrators and policymakers in the United States of America. I do feel sad and sympathise with the people of Texas… I have been following it closely and I say I wonder what would happen to us if we had that sort of downpour,” Francis said.

Speaking at a separate event later on Monday, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is among the top 10 countries in the world most vulnerable to extreme weather events as a result of climate change.

“We don’t have to have high winds. Because we are mountainous, we have a lot of landslides, the rivers overflow their banks, a lot of disasters are caused in this country by heavy rainfall, without the wind.”

Gonsalves said that the nation’s seacoast is being eroded by wave action resulting from the frequent and more intense storms associated climate change.

“The entire eastern coast is being eroded and also on the western side of the island,” he said.

He noted that between 2014 and 2016, his government has had to rebuild five major bridges in a five-mile area in eastern St. Vincent.

The bridges were built to replace older ones damaged or destroyed by extreme weather events, which also necessitated redesign to accommodate larger water flows during storms ranging from tropical depressions to hurricane.

At a total cost of 7.4 million dollars, the bridges represent a significant budgetary expense in a multi-island nation whose capital expenditure allocation in 2016 was 74 million dollars.

“I say these things so that we can keep this matter in focus,” said Gonsalves, whose government in May introduced a one per cent levy to help fund the cost of disaster response and mitigation.

In 2016, flooding as a result of tropical waves left damage to public infrastructure totalling EC$37 million, almost 10 per cent of the 342-million-dollar national budget.

Meanwhile, at Tuesday’s meeting of the national assembly, Minister of Foreign Affairs Louis Straker expressed solidarity with the people of the United States, and used the experience of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to remind nationals of what Texans might be experiencing.

“We are not immune to natural disasters and we have had our own flooding here, the major one being 2013 Christmas Eve, in which 13 lives were lost,” Straker said.

“Some people say that this is because of global warming, climate change, something that is denied and rejected by the president of the United States,” he told parliament.

“But what we have seen in Texas what is referred to in language as ‘of epic proportion’, ‘unprecedented’, ‘one in a 100 years’, the president said one in 500 years, and it is catastrophic. We must be touched with the feeling of their distress and their loss and their grief and their anguish, because we are subject to the same,” Straker said.

The foreign minister, whose oldest son lives in Texas, told lawmakers that all residents of the state have been affected in one way or the other.

“And we have to commiserate and sympathise and show solidarity with the Vincentians in the diaspora and with the hundreds of thousands of other people in Houston who have been affected by this storm, Harvey,” he said, noting that the storm passed St. Vincent and the Grenadines without much devastation.

Speaking about the impact on the lives of the people of Texas, he added, “Could you imagine that people work all their lives to build a home — that is very previous to a lot of people — and you furnish your home and you live comfortably with your family and within the space of a day or two, you could lose everything and you are left homeless? That’s a chilling prospect that all of us should contemplate,” Straker said.

Regionally, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), a block of 15 Caribbean nations, also extended its sympathies to the government and people of the United States and especially the State of Texas on the loss of lives and extensive damage to property and infrastructure following the passage of Hurricane Harvey.

CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, in a message to U.S. President Donald Trump, said CARICOM is confident that the people of Texas and the wider United States have the resilience to recover from the disaster.

LaRocque assured Trump that CARICOM stands with the Unites States at this time of disaster.

“The widespread destruction wrought by this hurricane has brought suffering to many and will necessitate a significant and lengthy rebuilding process,” LaRocque said. “The unprecedented nature of this climatic event highlights the unusual nature of weather patterns that continue to affect nations across the globe.”

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Young Artists Get Passionate About Renewable Energyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/young-artists-get-passionate-renewable-energy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=young-artists-get-passionate-renewable-energy http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/young-artists-get-passionate-renewable-energy/#respond Wed, 30 Aug 2017 11:33:49 +0000 Jewel Fraser http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151843 Conversations about renewable and sustainable energy don’t typically include artistic ideas on the subject. However, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) has chosen to engage the region’s youth in the conversation by inviting them to create artistic works on sustainable energy for a regional competition. Seven of the nine winners in the 2016 competition were from Trinidad […]

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Second- and third-place winners, respectively, in the Caricom Energy Month Photography and Art competition, Candice Sobers and Seon Thompson, holding the works that won them the prizes. Credit: Jewel Fraser/IPS

By Jewel Fraser
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Aug 30 2017 (IPS)

Conversations about renewable and sustainable energy don’t typically include artistic ideas on the subject. However, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) has chosen to engage the region’s youth in the conversation by inviting them to create artistic works on sustainable energy for a regional competition.

Seven of the nine winners in the 2016 competition were from Trinidad and Tobago and in June they were honoured at a ceremony held by Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries.Sobers said her focus in painting “Mother Energy” was to encourage “sustaining the environment with the right motive, with a motive of loving it, cherishing it and benefiting from it."

Some of those winners told IPS that the competition had indeed kindled their desire to be a part of the sustainable/renewable energy discussion now taking place in the region.

Candice Sobers, who won second place in the professional art category, describes entering art competitions “as a hobby” because “exposure in the arts is difficult to come by in Trinidad”. Nevertheless, the research she did for the competition has had an impact on how she uses energy. She now turns off any lights and appliances in her home that are not in use, and she has invested in energy-saving light bulbs.

Sobers’ entry to the Caricom Energy Month art and photography competition depicted a tree painted in the shape of woman who is seen pregnant with the sun. The mother tree’s mode of transportation is a bicycle and the environment she inhabits comprises various forms of renewable energy.

The painting, entitled “Mother Energy”, is rendered in acrylics, coloured pencil, and oil pastels. Sobers describes her work, in part, as follows: “The bicycle is a means of exercise without burning fossil fuels, encouraging the reduction of the carbon footprint. The energy saving bulb hangs on her neck as an accessory while she rides by the hydro-electric plant and wind mill landscape.”

Sobers said her focus in painting “Mother Energy” was to encourage “sustaining the environment with the right motive, with a motive of loving it, cherishing it and benefiting from it. If the motive is only for money mankind will find themselves abusing it in some form.”

Winners in the Caricom Energy Month art competition Fidelis Iwueke (from left), Candice Sobers, and Seon Thompson. Credit: Jewel Fraser/IPS

Third-placed winner in the professional art category, Seon Thompson, likewise chose to use a woman as part of his iconography. Like Sobers, Thompson holds a BA in Visual Arts from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. He told IPS, “I tried to give a double meaning to some of the elements.”

He explained that the hair of the woman, in a traditional corn row hairstyle, was also used to depict rows of plants while the palm trees seen in the landscape behind her also carried the implication of wind turbines. As one gazes at the painting, one’s eyes are led by the graceful lines of the woman’s arm and the undulating lines of cool blue and green depicting her hair to the warm, vividly coloured sun and mountains she carries in a basket on her head, with their obvious allusion to solar energy.

In explaining his work, Thompson said. “I really wanted to connect sustainable energy with the elements of the Caribbean we all could relate to—sun, foliage, fauna, people, houses and hills.” The houses in his painting are shown with solar panels on their roofs.

“In the Caribbean, we have two seasons, rainy and dry, so we really should be using solar energy, hydro energy, and so on….We are a prime example of nations that have all the elements aligned to practise sustaintable energy. We just need to invest in it more and see the value of utilising these mediums that exist and are readily available.”

Thompson said in creating his painting, “I really wanted to create an experience, not just have people say ‘that’s nice’. You must have an experience and really leave with something on your mind.”

He said he has started a project at the school where he teaches art to promote the idea of sustainability. The project encourages Form 5 students to find objects that are discarded and repurpose them in ways that are beneficial and profitable.

For 19-year-old Fidelis Iwueke, the first prize winner in the Caricom Energy Month video competition, his studies at A’Level in Environmental Science provided the foundation for his creation.

He provided IPS with a textbook definition of sustainability. “Sustainability is to ensure that the needs of today are provided for without compromising the future.”

Iwueke has just finished secondary school and his success in the video competition has awakened an interest in documentary production as a prospective career. “I am a former documentary junkie. I love documentaries,” he said. He is also a poet and spoken word artist, which made the video competition the most suitable category for him, he said.

Using public domain footage and videos that he gained permission to use, Iwueke was able to create his award-winning video. He began by creating an audio track of his voice discussing the topic of sustainable energy, to which he added music. He then overlaid this on the video he had obtained, following which he edited the video using the WeVideo app on his phone. The result was a seamless production that belies the fact that this was his first foray into video production.

The video opens with delightful clips showing the sea and other scenes from nature in the Caribbean, then segues to West Indians in the midst of carnival, as his voiceover ties the clips together by referring to the Caribbean’s sea and sun and then to Caribbean people as “a people full of energy…and we rely on energy for growth, survival and sustainable development. For sustainable development, we need sustainable energy.”

The video then goes on to discuss why sustainable energy is important and the different forms that are available to Caribbean people and encourages their use, while holding viewers’ attention with arresting footage.

Reflecting on the competition theme, Iwueke said, “The sun is always there. We have nice oceans for tidal energy. We just need a basic attitude change; changes in our consumption patterns could go a long way.”

Despite learning environmental science at school, preparing for the competition was a learning experience for him. “I liked and followed the Caricom Energy page to keep in the know. I learned how far the Caribbean has come and how much more we need to do,” he said.

The competition thus provided an avenue for these young Caribbean artists to further their practice, while making them more invested in sustainable energy as a lifestyle. “Now that I am more aware of renewable energy, I will become more of an advocate in any way possible. And when the finances are there I will make better choices,” said Iwueke.

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On Climate Finance, “The SIDS Can’t Wait”http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/climate-finance-sids-cant-wait/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-finance-sids-cant-wait http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/climate-finance-sids-cant-wait/#respond Mon, 28 Aug 2017 13:33:16 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151812 Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet warns that the clock is running out for small states such as those in the Caribbean as they struggle to develop infrastructure capable of withstanding changes in weather conditions – and that wealthier nations need to step up levels of aid. “There is no greater example of that than […]

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On Climate Finance, "The SIDS Can't Wait"

On Climate Finance, "The SIDS Can't Wait"

By Desmond Brown
CASTRIES, St Lucia, Aug 28 2017 (IPS)

Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet warns that the clock is running out for small states such as those in the Caribbean as they struggle to develop infrastructure capable of withstanding changes in weather conditions – and that wealthier nations need to step up levels of aid.

“There is no greater example of that than what took place in Haiti,” Chastanet said, referring to Hurricane Matthew, which wreaked a billion dollars worth of damage to the impoverished island last October.

“Did we not know that Haiti was in a hurricane belt? Did we not know that there was clearly a trend of increasing storms? That all we needed was a trough? What took place last year, the world and all of us must bear responsibility for. The Haitian people were left to confront one of the strongest and most devastating hurricanes we have seen in a long time with cardboard boxes.”

 

 

St. Lucia was also hit by Matthew when it was still categorized as a tropical storm. The island experienced the most severe effects among Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) nations, with damage to homes and businesses accompanied by blocked roads and flooding.

Chastanet, who was speaking at a ceremony for the exchange of notes for Japanese grant aid of EC$35 million to the government of St. Lucia for the reconstruction of two major bridges, said time is of the essence.

“Time is against us. I say all of this to underscore that point and for us not to take for granted the significance of today. It is very easy for us to continue to come to these signings of agreements and almost take it for granted what we are receiving. This project has the opportunity and potential to protect the lives and the assets of many people,” he said.

 

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St. Lucia’s PM on Climate Change: “Time Is Against Us”http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/st-lucias-pm-climate-change-time-us/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=st-lucias-pm-climate-change-time-us http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/st-lucias-pm-climate-change-time-us/#respond Mon, 28 Aug 2017 00:29:19 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151802 A Caribbean Community (CARICOM) prime minister has reiterated the call for developed countries to assist Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in their quest to combat the effects of climate change. The Saint Lucian leader, Allen Chastanet, said time is running out for small states such as those in the Caribbean as they struggle to develop […]

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The prime minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet, has reiterated the call for developed countries to assist SIDS to combat the effects of climate change.

Tropical Storm Erika, the deadliest natural disaster in Dominica since Hurricane David in 1979, extensively damaged the island’s main airport in August 2015. Saint Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says time is running out for small states such as those in the Caribbean as they struggle to develop infrastructure capable of withstanding changes in weather conditions. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
CASTRIES, St Lucia, Aug 28 2017 (IPS)

A Caribbean Community (CARICOM) prime minister has reiterated the call for developed countries to assist Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in their quest to combat the effects of climate change.

The Saint Lucian leader, Allen Chastanet, said time is running out for small states such as those in the Caribbean as they struggle to develop infrastructure capable of withstanding changes in weather conditions.The momentum of progress on climate change has been stymied by recent decisions by the United States in relation to the Paris Agreement.

“I am going to keep pounding on the table and letting my voice be heard explaining that the SIDS cannot wait,” Chastanet said.

“There is no greater example of that than what took place in Haiti. Did we not know that Haiti was in a hurricane belt? Did we not know that there was clearly a trend of increasing storms? That all we needed was a trough? What took place last year, the world and all of us must bear responsibility for. The Haitian people were left to confront one of the strongest and most devastating hurricanes we have seen in a long time with cardboard boxes.”

On October 4 last year, Hurricane Matthew struck southwestern Haiti leaving widespread damage in the impoverished Caribbean nation. Matthew was a late-season Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, having formed in the southeastern Caribbean on September 28.

In addition to loss of life, the economic damage to the nation was truly staggering. The Haitian aid group CARE placed the damage done by Hurricane Matthew to Haiti at 1 billion dollars.

Haiti is of the world’s poorest countries and vulnerable to such natural disasters. The United Nations proclaiming Matthew to be the greatest humanitarian crisis to affect the country since a devastating earthquake six years ago. The country was essentially cut in half as the storm destroyed transport links. After slicing through Haiti and killing more than 800 people, Matthew also pounded Cuba and The Bahamas.

Chastanet, who was speaking at a ceremony for the exchange of notes for Japanese grant aid of EC$35 million to the government of St. Lucia for the reconstruction of two major bridges, said time is of the essence.

“Time is against us. I say all of this to underscore that point and for us not to take for granted the significance of today. It is very easy for us to continue to come to these signings of agreements and almost take it for granted what we are receiving. This project has the opportunity and potential to protect the lives and the assets of many people,” he said.

“In terms of upgrading the country’s already expensive infrastructure, time is against small states like Saint Lucia in their fight to develop the road network and bridges capable of withstanding weather changes.”

St Lucia was also hit by Matthew as a tropical storm. The island experienced the most severe effects among Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) nations, with damage to homes and businesses accompanied by blocked roads and flooding.

The prime minister repeatedly thanked the Japanese for the Grant for the bridges which are expected to commence in early 2018. He also pointed to the assistance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as SIDS position themselves to combat the effects of climate change.

“I had the opportunity to attend World Bank meetings and IMF meetings and I am very grateful that both those organisations have chosen to have a setting for the small island developing states of the world,” Chastanet noted.

“That was followed by the COP meeting that took place in Marrakech. I want to also recognize the work that was done by our predecessors in supporting the climate change agreement at COP in Paris in which we formalized the recognition that climate change is real and a roadmap for how the world intends to be able to deal with the problem.  In the roadmap, the world gave itself a challenge to raise 100 billion dollars to go towards mitigation and funding adaptation.”

The prime minister explained that the momentum had been stymied by recent decisions by the United States in relation to the Paris Agreement.

But he said some of the SIDS, inclusive of Saint Lucia are proposing alternatives to get assistance for critical infrastructural projects that help with adaption.

“One is exactly what is taking place here today where the Government of Japan, through JICA, are making a bilateral contribution to Saint Lucia in a project that is a critical infrastructural project. What we would like to see is Japan being given a credit for that contribution,” explained the Prime Minister.

Although the United States remains part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in June this year President Donald Trump ceased all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord.

That includes contributions to the UN 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 US by domestic regulations anyway).

Permanent Secretary in the Department of Infrastructure, Ports and Energy Ivor Daniel, who gave an overview, explained that the bridge repair project is in-keeping with the National Hazard Mitigation Policy, which aims to reduce the country’s vulnerability to natural hazards and the impact of climate change.

Ambassador of Japan to Saint Lucia Mitsuhiko Okada outlined Japan’s areas of cooperation with Saint Lucia which include disaster risk reduction, sustainable management of marine life and human security.

The assistance is being channelled through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and that organization’s director general for Latin America and the Caribbean Hajime Takeuchi also spoke about the significant contributions made to assist not just Saint Lucia but the region.

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Building Climate Resilience in Coastal Communities of the Caribbeanhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/building-climate-resilience-coastal-communities-caribbean/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=building-climate-resilience-coastal-communities-caribbean http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/building-climate-resilience-coastal-communities-caribbean/#comments Thu, 24 Aug 2017 00:01:12 +0000 Zadie Neufville http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151733 Ceylon Clayton is trying to revive a sea moss growing project he and friends started a few years ago to supplement their dwindling earnings as fishermen. This time, he has sought the support of outsiders and fishermen from neighbouring communities to expand the operations and the ‘unofficial’ fishing sanctuary. Clayton is leading a group of […]

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When seaweed thrives, fishing in and around Little Bay, Jamaica also improves. This alternative livelihoods project is one of many that make up the 14 coastal protection projects being implemented across the region by the 5Cs. Here, Ceylon Clayton carries a crate of seaweed. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

By Zadie Neufville
NEGRIL, Jamaica, Aug 24 2017 (IPS)

Ceylon Clayton is trying to revive a sea moss growing project he and friends started a few years ago to supplement their dwindling earnings as fishermen.

This time, he has sought the support of outsiders and fishermen from neighbouring communities to expand the operations and the ‘unofficial’ fishing sanctuary. Clayton is leading a group of ten fishers from the Little Bay community in Westmoreland, Jamaica, who have big dreams of turning the tiny fishing village into the largest sea moss producer on the island.To protect their ‘nursery’ and preserve the recovery, the fishermen took turns patrolling the bay, but two years ago, they ran out of money.

He is also one of the many thousands of fishers in the Caribbean who are part of an industry that, along with other ecosystem services, earns around 2 billion dollars a year, but which experts say is already fully developed or over-exploited.

The men began farming seaweed because they could no longer support their families fishing on the narrow Negril shelf, and they lacked the equipment needed to fish in deeper waters, he said.

As Clayton tells it, not long after they began enforcing a ‘no fishing’ zone, they were both surprised and pleased that within two and a half years, there was a noticeable increase in the number and size of lobsters being caught.

“When we were harvesting the sea moss we noticed that there were lots of young lobsters, shrimp and juvenile fish in the roots. They were eating there and the big fish were also coming back into the bay to eat the small fish,” Clayton told members of a delegation from the German Development Bank (KfW), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) also called 5Cs and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) who came to visit the site in May.

To protect their ‘nursery’ and preserve the recovery, the fishermen took turns patrolling the bay, but two years ago, they ran out of money.

“We didn’t have the markets,” Clayton said, noting there were limited markets for unprocessed seaweed and not enough money to support the patrols.

The seaweed is thriving and teeming with marine life; fishing in around Little Bay and the neighbouring villages has also improved, Clayton said. Now he, his wife (also a fisher) and eight friends want to build on that success and believe the climate change adaptation project being implemented by the 5Cs is their best chance at success. They’ve recruited other fishers, the local school and shopkeepers.

Showing off the variety of juvenile marine animals, including baby eels, seahorses, octopi, reef fish and shrimp hiding among the seaweed, the 30 plus-years veteran fisherman explained that the experiment had shown the community the success that could come from growing, processing and effectively marketing the product. The bonus, he said, would be the benefits that come from making the bay off-limits for fishing.

This alternative livelihoods project is one of many that make up the 14 coastal protection projects being implemented across the region by the 5Cs. Aptly named the Coastal Protection for Climate Change Adaptation (CPCCA) in Small Island States in the Caribbean Project because of its focus, it is being implemented with technical support from IUCN and a €12.9 million in grant funding from the KfW.

“The project seeks to minimise the adverse impacts from climate change by restoring the protective services offered by natural eco-systems like coastal mangrove forests and coral reefs in some areas, while restoring and building man-made structures such as groynes and revetments in others,” the IUCN Technical consultant Robert Kerr said in an email. Aside from Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are also beneficiaries under the project.

The Caribbean is heavily dependent on tourism and other marine services, industries that the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC) last report indicate are expected to be heavily impacted by climate change. Most if not all states depend on the fisheries and the regional tourism industry – which grew from four million visitors in 1970 to an estimated 25 million visitors today – earns an estimated 25 billion dollars in revenue and supports about six million jobs.

The findings of the IPCC’s report is further strengthened by that of the Caribbean Marine Climate Change Report Card (2017) which stated: “The seas, reefs and coasts on which all Caribbean people depend are under threat from coral bleaching, ocean acidification, rising sea temperature, and storms.”

“The project is a demonstration of Germany’s commitment to assisting the region’s vulnerable communities to withstand the impacts of climate change,” said Dr. Jens Mackensen KfW’s head of Agriculture and Natural Resources Division for Latin America and Caribbean.

All the Jamaican projects are in protected areas, and are managed by a mix of non-governmental organisations (ngos), academic and local government organisations. The Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC) is managing the seaweed project and two other components – to reduce the flow of sewage into the wetlands and install mooring buoys and markers to regulate use of the sea – that focus on strengthening the ecosystem and improving the climate resilience of the Negril Marine Protected area.

The University of the West Indies’ Centre for Marine Sciences is managing the East Portland Fish Sanctuary project; the Caribbean Coastal Area Management (C-CAM) Foundation works in the Portland Bight area and the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), a quasi-government agency is managing infrastructure work on the Closed Habour Beach also called Dump Up beach in the Montego Bay area.

Clayton’s plan to include a processing plant at the local school and a marketing network in the small business community has impressed 5C’s executive director Dr. Kenrick Leslie and McKensen.

Sea moss is a common ingredient in energy tonics that target men, the locals explain. In addition WMC’s project manager Simone Williams said, “The projects aim to protect and rehabilitate the degraded fisheries habitat and ecosystems of Orange Bay, streamline usage of the marine areas and improve quality of discharge into marine areas.”

In Portland Bight, an area inhabited by more than 10,000 people, and one of the most vulnerable, C-CAM is working to improve awareness, build resilience through eco-systems based adaptation, conservation and the diversification of livelihoods. Important, CCAM Executive Director Ingrid Parchment said, because most of the people here rely on fisheries. The area supports some 4,000 fishers – 300 boats from five fishing beaches. They have in the past suffered severe flooding from storm surges, which have in recent times become more frequent.

And in the tourist town of Montego Bay, the UDC is undertaking structural work to repair a groyne that will protect the largest public beach in the city – Dump-up or Closed Harbour Beach. Works here will halt the erosion of the main beach as well as two adjacent beaches (Gun Point and Walter Fletcher) and protect the livelihoods of many who make their living along the coast. When complete the structure will form the backbone of further development for the city.

UWI’s Alligator Head Marine Lab is spearheading a project to reinforce protection of vulnerable seaside and fishing communities, along the eastern coast of Portland, a parish locals often say has been neglected but with links to James Bond creator, Ian Fleming it has great potential as a tourism destination.

Here, over six square kilometres of coastline is being rehabilitated through wetlands and reef rehabilitation; the establishment of alternative livelihood projects; renewable technologies and actions to reduce greenhouse gases and strengthen climate resilience.

In St Vincent and the Grenadines, the CPCCA is helping the Ministry of Works to rehabilitate the Sandy Bay Community, and the coastal Windward Highway where storm damage has caused loss of housing, livelihoods and recreational space, Kerr said.

The local census data puts unemployment in Sandy Bay as the country’s highest and, as Kerr noted, “With the highest reported level of poverty at 55 per cent, the Sandy Bay Community cannot afford these losses.”

CPCCA is well on its way and will end in 2018, by that time, Leslie noted beneficiaries would be well on their way to achieving their and the project’s goal.

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What Does “Climate-Smart Agriculture” Really Mean? New Tool Breaks It Downhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/climate-smart-agriculture-really-mean-new-tool-breaks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-smart-agriculture-really-mean-new-tool-breaks http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/climate-smart-agriculture-really-mean-new-tool-breaks/#respond Mon, 14 Aug 2017 23:20:05 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151680 A Trinidadian scientist has developed a mechanism for determining the degree of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) compliance with respect to projects, processes and products. This comes as global attention is drawn to climate-smart agriculture as one of the approaches to mitigate or adapt to climate change. Steve Maximay says his Climate-Smart Agriculture Compliant (C-SAC) tool provides […]

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The base for a water catchment tank. Faced with severe droughts, many farmers in the Caribbean have found it necessary to set up catchment areas to harvest water whenever it rains. Credit: CDB

By Desmond Brown
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Aug 14 2017 (IPS)

A Trinidadian scientist has developed a mechanism for determining the degree of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) compliance with respect to projects, processes and products.

This comes as global attention is drawn to climate-smart agriculture as one of the approaches to mitigate or adapt to climate change.“It can be used as a preliminary filter to sort through the number of ‘green-washing’ projects that may get funded under the rubric of climate-smart agriculture...all in a bid to access the millions of dollars that should go to help small and genuinely progressive farmers." --Steve Maximay

Steve Maximay says his Climate-Smart Agriculture Compliant (C-SAC) tool provides a certification and auditing scheme that can be used to compare projects, processes and products to justify the applicability and quantum of climate change funding.

“C-SAC provides a step-by-step, checklist style guide that a trained person can use to determine how closely the project or process under review satisfies the five areas of compliance,” Maximay told IPS.

“This method literally forces the examiner to consider key aspects or goals of climate-smart agriculture. These aspects (categories) are resource conservation; energy use; safety; biodiversity support; and greenhouse gas reduction.”

He said each category is further subdivided, so resource conservation includes the use of land, water, nutrients and labour. Energy use includes its use in power, lighting, input manufacture and transportation. Safety revolves around production operations, harvesting, storage and utilization.

Biodiversity support examines land clearing, off-site agrochemical impact, limited introduction of invasive species, and ecosystem services impact. Greenhouse gas reduction involves enteric fermentation (gas produced in the stomach of cattle and other animals that chew their cud), soil management, fossil fuel reduction and manure/waste management.

“These subdivisions (four each in the five categories) are the basis of the 20 questions that comprise the C-SAC tool,” Maximay explained.

“The manual provides a means of scoring each aspect on a five-point scale. If the cumulative score for the project is less than 40 it is deemed non-compliant and not a truly climate smart agriculture activity. C-SAC further grades in terms of degree of compliance wherein a score of 40-49 points is level 1, (50-59) level 2, (60 -69) level 3, (70-79) level 4, and (80-100) being the highest degree of compliance at level 5.

“It is structured with due cognizance of concerns about how the global climate change funds will be disbursed,” he added.

The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) describes climate-smart agriculture as agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience (adaptation), reduces or removes greenhouse gases (mitigation) where possible, and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals.

The climate-smart agriculture concept reflects an ambition to improve the integration of agriculture development and climate responsiveness. It aims to achieve food security and broader development goals under a changing climate and increasing food demand.

CSA initiatives sustainably increase productivity, enhance resilience, and reduce/remove greenhouse gases, and require planning to address tradeoffs and synergies between these three pillars: productivity, adaptation, and mitigation.

While the concept is still evolving, many of the practices that make up CSA already exist worldwide and are used by farmers to cope with various production risks.

Mainstreaming CSA requires critical stocktaking of ongoing and promising practices for the future, and of institutional and financial enablers for CSA adoption.

Maximay said C-SAC is meant to be a prioritizing tool with a holistic interpretation of the perceived benefits of climate-smart agriculture.

“It can be used as a preliminary filter to sort through the number of ‘green-washing’ projects that may get funded under the rubric of climate-smart agriculture…all in a bid to access the millions of dollars that should go to help small and genuinely progressive farmers,” he said.

“C-SAC will provide bankers and project managers with an easy to use tool to ensure funded projects really comply with a broad interpretation of climate smart agriculture.”

Maximay said C-SAC incorporates major categories of compliance and provides a replicable analysis matrix using scalar approaches to convert qualitative assessments into a numeric compliance scale.

“The rapid qualitative analysis at the core of C-SAC depends on interrelated science-based guidelines honed from peer reviewed, field-tested practices and operations,” Maximay explained.

“Climate-smart agriculture often amalgamates activities geared towards adaptation and mitigation. The proliferation of projects claiming to fit the climate smart agriculture designation has highlighted the need for an auditing and certification scheme. One adaptation or mitigation feature may not be enough to qualify an agricultural operation as being climate-smart. Consequently, a more holistic perspective can lead to a determination of the level of compliance with respect to climate-smart agriculture.

“C-SAC provides that holistic perspective based on a structured qualitative assessment of key components,” Maximay added.

The scientist notes that in the midst of increased opportunities for the use of global climate funds, it behooves policymakers and financiers to ensure projects are not crafted in a unidimensional manner.

He added that small farmers in Small Island Developing States are particularly vulnerable and their needs must be met by projects that are holistic in design and implementation.

Over the years, agriculture organisations in the Caribbean have been providing funding to set up climate-smart farms as demonstrations to show farmers examples of ecological practices that they can use to combat many of the conditions that arise due to the heavy rainfall and drought conditions experienced in the region.

Maximay was among the first agricultural scientists addressing climate change concerns during the Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change (CPACC).

A plant pathologist by training, he has been a secondary school teacher, development banker, researcher, World Bank-certified training manager, university lecturer, Caribbean Development Bank consultant and entrepreneur.

Maximay managed the first Business Development Office in a Science Faculty within the University of the West Indies. With more than thirty years’ experience in the agricultural, education, health, financial and environmental sectors, he has also worked on development projects for major regional and international agencies.

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New Tool Separates Wheat from Chaff for Climate-Smart Ag Financehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/new-tool-separates-wheat-chaff-climate-smart-ag-finance/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-tool-separates-wheat-chaff-climate-smart-ag-finance http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/new-tool-separates-wheat-chaff-climate-smart-ag-finance/#comments Mon, 14 Aug 2017 13:40:56 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151669 Climate-smart agriculture seeks to achieve food security and broader development goals under a changing climate and increasing food demand.  CSA initiatives sustainably increase productivity, enhance resilience, and reduce/remove greenhouse gases, and require planning to address tradeoffs and synergies between these three pillars: productivity, adaptation, and mitigation. Trinidadian scientist Steve Maximay says his new Climate-Smart Agriculture […]

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Climate-smart agriculture seeks to achieve food security and broader development goals under a changing climate and increasing food demand

Climate-smart agriculture seeks to achieve food security and broader development goals under a changing climate and increasing food demand

By Desmond Brown
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad , Aug 14 2017 (IPS)

Climate-smart agriculture seeks to achieve food security and broader development goals under a changing climate and increasing food demand. 

CSA initiatives sustainably increase productivity, enhance resilience, and reduce/remove greenhouse gases, and require planning to address tradeoffs and synergies between these three pillars: productivity, adaptation, and mitigation.

Trinidadian scientist Steve Maximay says his new Climate-Smart Agriculture Compliant (C-SAC) tool provides a certification and auditing scheme that can be used to compare projects, processes and products to justify the applicability and quantum of climate change funding.

“C-SAC provides a step-by-step, checklist style guide that a trained person can use to determine how closely the project or process under review satisfies the five areas of compliance,” Maximay told IPS.

“This method literally forces the examiner to consider key aspects or goals of climate-smart agriculture. These aspects (categories) are resource conservation; energy use; safety; biodiversity support; and greenhouse gas reduction.

“It can be used as a preliminary filter to sort through the number of ‘green-washing’ projects that may get funded under the rubric of climate-smart agriculture . . . all in a bid to access the millions of dollars that should go to help small and genuinely progressive farmers,” he said.

Climate-smart agriculture

The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) describes climate-smart agriculture (CSA) as agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience (adaptation), reduces or removes greenhouse gases (mitigation) where possible, and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals.

The climate-smart agriculture concept reflects an ambition to improve the integration of agriculture development and climate responsiveness. It aims to achieve food security and broader development goals under a changing climate and increasing food demand.

While the concept is still evolving, many of the practices that make up CSA already exist worldwide and are used by farmers to cope with various production risks.

 

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Conservation Agriculture Sprouts in Cuban Fieldshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/conservation-agriculture-sprouts-cuban-fields/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=conservation-agriculture-sprouts-cuban-fields http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/conservation-agriculture-sprouts-cuban-fields/#comments Thu, 10 Aug 2017 18:21:00 +0000 Ivet Gonzalez http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151642 At the entrance, the Tierra Brava farm looks like any other family farm in the rural municipality of Los Palacios, in the westernmost province of Cuba. But as you drive in, you see that the traditional furrows are not there, and that freshly cut grass covers the soil. “For more than five years we’ve been […]

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Onay Martínez holds a sugar-apple on his farm, Tierra Brava, in western Cuba, where he practices conservation agriculture and has turned this sustainable system that minimally disturbs the soil into a model in his country. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Onay Martínez holds a sugar-apple on his farm, Tierra Brava, in western Cuba, where he practices conservation agriculture and has turned this sustainable system that minimally disturbs the soil into a model in his country. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

By Ivet González
LOS PALACIOS, Cuba, Aug 10 2017 (IPS)

At the entrance, the Tierra Brava farm looks like any other family farm in the rural municipality of Los Palacios, in the westernmost province of Cuba. But as you drive in, you see that the traditional furrows are not there, and that freshly cut grass covers the soil.

“For more than five years we’ve been practicing conservation agriculture (CA),” Onay Martínez, who works 22 hectares of state-owned land, told IPS.

He was referring to a specific kind of agroecology which, besides not using chemicals, diversifies species on farms and preserves the soil using plant coverage and no plowing.

“In Cuba, this system is hardly practiced,” lamented the farmer, who is cited as an example by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of integral and spontaneous application of CA, which Cuban authorities began to include in their policies in 2016.

This fruit tree orchard in the province of Pinar del Río, worked by four farmhands, is the only example of CA reported at the moment, and symbolises the step that Cuba’s well-developed agroecological movement is ready to take towards this sustainable system of farming. The Agriculture Ministry already has a programme to extend it on a large scale.

FAO defines CA as “an approach to managing agro-ecosystems for improved and sustained productivity, increased profits and food security while preserving and enhancing the resource base and the environment. CA is characterised by three linked principles, namely: Continuous minimum mechanical soil disturbance; Permanent organic soil cover; Diversification of crop species grown in sequences and/or associations.”

Because of the small number of farms using the technique, there are no estimates yet of the amount of land in Cuba that use the basic technique of no-till farming, which is currently expanding in the Americas and other parts of the world.

CA, which uses small machinery such as no-till planters, has spread over 180 million hectares worldwide. Latin America accounts for 45 per cent of the total, the United States and Canada 42 per cent, Australia 10 per cent, and countries in Europe, Africa and Asia 3.6 per cent.

The world leaders in the adoption of this conservationist system are South America: Brazil, where it is used on 50 per cent of farmland, and Argentina and Paraguay, with 60 per cent each.

And Argentina and Brazil, the two agro-exporter powers in the region, are aiming to extend it to 85 per cent of cultivated lands in less than a decade.

Sheep are raised for meat on the Tierra Brava farm, which also produces fruit, expensive and scarce in Cuba. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Sheep are raised for meat on the Tierra Brava farm, which also produces fruit, expensive and scarce in Cuba. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

“In conservation agriculture we found the basis for development because it allowed us to achieve goals in adverse conditions,” said Martínez, a computer specialist who discovered CA when in 2009 he and his brother started to study how to reactivate lands that had been idle for 25 years and were covered by weeds.

A worker operates a kind of mower characteristic of this type of agriculture to clear the paths in Tierra Brava, which has no electricity or irrigation system. The cut grass is thrown in the same direction to facilitate the creation of organic compost.

“There are places on the farm, such as the plantation of soursop (Annona muricata), where you walk and you feel a soft step in the ground,” Martínez said, citing an example of the recovery of the land achieved thanks to the fact that “no tilling is used and the soil coverage is not removed.”

Focused on the production of expensive and scarce fruit in Cuba, the farm in 2016 produced 87 tons, mainly of mangos, avocados and guavas, in addition to 2.7 tons of sheep meat and 600 kilos of rabbit.

Now they are building a dam to practice aquaculture and are starting to sell soursop, a fruit nearly missing in local markets.

Mandarin orange, canistel (Pouteria campechiana), coconut, tamarind, cashew, West Indian cherry (Malpighia emarginata), mamey apple (Mammea americana), plum, cherry, sugar apple (Annona squamosa), cherimoya (Annona cherimola) and papaya are some of the other fruit trees growing on the family farm, until now for self-consumption, diversification or small-scale, experimental production.

An assortment of fruit grown on the Tierra Brava farm in Los Palacios, in the western Cuban province of Pinar del Río. In the cooperative of which it forms part, farmers aspire to build a processing plant to sell “healthy fruit” to tourists. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

An assortment of fruit grown on the Tierra Brava farm in Los Palacios, in the western Cuban province of Pinar del Río. In the cooperative of which it forms part, farmers aspire to build a processing plant to sell “healthy fruit” to tourists. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

“Rotating crops is hard and requires a lot of training and precision, but CA is also special because it allows you time to be with your family,” said Martínez, referring to another of the benefits also mentioned by specialists.

FAO’s representative in Cuba, German agronomist Theodor Friedrich, is one of the staunch advocates of CA around the world, based on years of research.

“Agroecology, as it was understood in Cuba in the past, has excluded the aspect of healthy soil and its biodiversity,” he told IPS in an interview. “Now the government recognises that the move towards Conservation Agriculture fills in the gaps of the past, in order to achieve true agroecology.”

Friedrich said that in this Caribbean island nation of 11.2 million people, CA is new, but “several pilot projects have been carried out, and there is evidence that it works.”

In October 2016, Cuba laid out a roadmap to implement CA around the country, after an international consultation supported by FAO. And in July a special group was set up within the Agriculture Ministry to promote CA.

“CA has not been immediately adopted on a large-scale around the country,” said Friedrich. “But as of 2018, the growth of the area under CA is expected to be much faster than in countries where this system only spreads among farmers, without the coordinated support of related policies.”

A worker operates a low-impact mower, used in conservation agriculture to clear the land, on the Tierra Brava farm in Los Palacios, a municipality at the western tip of Cuba. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

A worker operates a low-impact mower, used in conservation agriculture to clear the land, on the Tierra Brava farm in Los Palacios, a municipality at the western tip of Cuba. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Good practices that improve the soil, which form the basis of this system, have been promoted in Cuba for some time now by bodies such as the Soil Institute (IS). It is even among the few environmental services supported by the state in Cuba’s stagnant economy, to combat the low fertility of the land.

According to data from the IS, only 28 per cent of Cuban soils are highly productive for agriculture. Of the rest, 50 per cent is ranked in category four of productivity, one of the lowest, due to the characteristics of the formation of the Cuban archipelago and the poor management of soil during centuries of monoculture of sugarcane.

“In this municipality, the number of farms that use organic compost to improve the soils has increased. The payment for improving the soil has been an incentive,” said Lázara Pita, coordinator of the agroecological movement in the National Association of Small Farmers of Los Palacios.

“We have rice fields, where agroecology is not used, but where they do apply good practices for soil conservation such as using rice husks as nutrients,” Pita, whose association has 2,147 small farms joined together in 15 cooperatives, an agroindustrial state company and rice processing plant, told IPS.

Standing in a wide-roofed place without walls in Tierra Brava, Pita estimated that 40 farms qualify as ecological, and another 60 could shift to clean production techniques.

With the certification of a soil expert, a farmer like Martínez can earn between 120 and 240 dollars a year for offering environmental services, such as soil improvers, the use of live barriers and organic materials. This is an attractive sum, given the average state salary of 29 dollars a month.

Cuba, which depends on millions of dollars in food imports, has 6,226,700 hectares of arable land, of which 2,733,500 are cultivated and 883,900 remain idle.

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Climate Scientists Use Forecasting Tools to Protect Caribbean Ways of Lifehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/climate-scientists-use-forecasting-tools-protect-caribbean-ways-life/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-scientists-use-forecasting-tools-protect-caribbean-ways-life http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/climate-scientists-use-forecasting-tools-protect-caribbean-ways-life/#respond Mon, 07 Aug 2017 00:01:50 +0000 Zadie Neufville http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151576 Since 2013, Jamaica’s Met Office has been using its Climate Predictability Tool (CPT) to forecast ‘below average’ rainfall or drought across the island. The tool has allowed this northern Caribbean island to accurately predict several dry periods and droughts, including its most destructive episode in 2014 when an estimated one billion dollars in agricultural losses […]

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The remains of abandoned shade houses that one farmer attempted to build to protect his crops from the effects of climate change in Trinidad. Credit: Jewel Fraser/IPS

The remains of abandoned shade houses that one farmer attempted to build to protect his crops from the effects of climate change in Trinidad. Credit: Jewel Fraser/IPS

By Zadie Neufville
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Aug 7 2017 (IPS)

Since 2013, Jamaica’s Met Office has been using its Climate Predictability Tool (CPT) to forecast ‘below average’ rainfall or drought across the island. The tool has allowed this northern Caribbean island to accurately predict several dry periods and droughts, including its most destructive episode in 2014 when an estimated one billion dollars in agricultural losses were incurred due to crop failures and wild fires caused by the exceptionally dry conditions.

In neighbouring Cuba, the reputation of the Centre for Atmospheric Physics at the Institute for Meteorology (INSMET) is built on the development of tools that “provide reliable and timely climate and weather information” that enables the nation to prepare for extreme rainfall and drought conditions as well as for hurricanes.“We saw the need to develop a drought tool that was not only easy to use, but free to the countries of the Caribbean so they would not have to spend large amounts of money for software." --INSMET’s Dr. Arnoldo Bezamilla Morlot

Regional scientists believe the extended dry periods are one of several signs of climate change, now being experienced across the region. Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Adviser at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) – known regionally as the Five Cs – believes climate change is threatening the “Caribbean’s ways of life”.

Dr Trotz noted, “Some countries in the Caribbean like Barbados and Antigua are inherently water scarce. It is expected that climate change will exacerbate this already critical situation. We have seen in recent times the occurrence of extended droughts across the Caribbean, a phenomenon that is expected to occur more frequently in the future.

“Droughts have serious implications across all sectors – the water, health, agriculture, tourism -and already we are seeing the disastrous effects of extended droughts throughout the Caribbean especially in the agriculture sector, on economies, livelihoods and the wellbeing of the Caribbean population,” he said.

With major industries like fisheries, tourism and agriculture already impacted, the region continues to look for options. Both the Cuban and Jamaican experiences with forecasting tools means their use should be replicated across the Caribbean, Central and South America as scientists look for ways to battle increasingly high temperatures and low rainfall which have ravaged the agricultural sector and killed corals across the region.

Charged with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)’s mandate to coordinate the region’s response to climate change, the ‘Five Cs’ has been seeking financial support investigating and pooling regional resources to help countries cope with the expected impacts since its birth in 2004. These days, they are introducing and training regional planners in the application and use of a suite of tools that will help leaders make their countries climate-ready.

St Lucian government officers becoming familiar with tools at a recent workshop in St Lucia. As part of the training, they will use the tools to assess planned developments and weather conditions over six months to provide data and information which could be used for a variety of projects. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

St Lucian government officers becoming familiar with tools at a recent workshop in St Lucia. As part of the training, they will use the tools to assess planned developments and weather conditions over six months to provide data and information which could be used for a variety of projects. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

The experts believe that preparing the region to deal with climate change must include data collection and the widespread use of variability, predictability and planning tools that will guide development that mitigate the impacts of extreme climatic conditions.

The recent Caribbean Marine Climate Report card reflects the findings of the latest Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, pointing to the need for countries to ramp up their adaptation strategies. Both highlight the many significant risks climate change is expected to bring to regional economies that depend heavily on eco-systems based industries; where major infrastructure are located along the coasts and where populations are mainly poor.

The report points to the threats to biodiversity from coral bleaching; rising sea temperature and more intense storms which could destroy the region’s economy, and in some cases inundate entire communities.

The tools not only allow the users to generate country specific forecast information, they allow Met Officers, Disaster Managers and other critical personnel to assess likely impacts of climatic and extreme weather events on sectors such as health, agriculture and tourism; on critical infrastructure and installations as well as on vulnerable populations.

Training is being rolled out under the Climate Change Adaptation Program (CCAP) in countries of the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). CCAP was designed to build on both USAID’s Regional Development Cooperative Strategy which addresses development challenges in the countries in that part of the region, as well as the CCCCC’s Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to a Changing Climate and its associated Implementation Plan, which have been endorsed by the Heads of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.

Regional experts and government officers working in agriculture, water resources, coastal zone management, health, physical planning and disaster risk reduction from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago are being taught to use a variety of tools.

The program aims to build resilience in the development initiatives of the countries as they tackle climate change-induced challenges, which are already being experienced by countries of the region.

At a recent workshop in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, trainees were confident that the tools could become critical to their developmental goals. St Lucian metrological forecaster Glen Antoinne, believes the tools could be “useful for St Lucia because they are directly related to our ability to forecast any changes in the climate”.

He looks forward to his government’s adoption of, in particular, the weather tools to  “support the climatology department in looking at trends, forecasting droughts and to help them to determine when to take action in policy planning and disaster management”.

The tools work by allowing researchers and other development specialists to use a range of climatic data to generate scientific information and carry out analysis on the likely impacts in the individual countries of the region. They are open source, to remove the need for similar expensive products being used in developed world, but effective, said INSMET’s Dr. Arnoldo Bezamilla Morlot.

“We saw the need to develop a drought tool that was not only easy to use, but free to the countries of the Caribbean so they would not have to spend large amounts of money for software,” he said.

“The more countries use the data, the more information that is available for countries and region to use,” Morlot continued, pointing out that the data is used to generate the information that then feeds into the decision making process.

CCAP also includes activities aimed at the expansion of the Coral Reef Early Warning System for the installation of data gathering buoys in five countries in the Eastern Caribbean providing data which, among other things will be used for ecological forecasts on coral bleaching and other marine events.

The project also provides for the strengthening of the hydro meteorological measurement systems in participating countries. This will allow for better monitoring of present day weather parameters and for generating data to feed into the climate models and other tools.

Among the tools being rolled out under the project are the Caribbean Assessment Regional DROught (CARiDRO) tool; the Caribbean Weather Generator, and the Tropical Storm Model which were designed to help experts to develop scenarios of future climate at any given location and to use these to more accurately forecast the impacts, and inform mitigating actions.

There are accompanying web portals and data sets that were developed and are being introduced to help countries to enhance their ability to reduce the risks of climate change to natural assets and populations in their development activities.

These online resources are designed to provide locally relevant and unbiased climate change information that is specific to the Caribbean and relevant to the region’s development. Their integration into national planning agendas across the region is being facilitated through regional and country workshops to ensure effective decision-making while improving climate knowledge and action.

“The resulting information will help leaders make informed decisions based on the projections and forecasting of likely levels of impact on their infrastructure and economies,” Lavina Alexander from St Lucia’s Department of Sustainable Development noted, pointing to that country’s recent experiences with hurricanes and extreme rainfall events.

As one of the tool designers, Morlot believes that by providing free access to the tools, the project is ensuring that “more countries will begin to collect and use the data, providing regional scientists with the ability to make more accurate forecasts of the region’s climate.”

Putting all the information and tools in one place where it is accessible by all will be good for the region, he said.

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Guyana’s Model Green Town Reflects Ambitious National Planhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/guyanas-model-green-town-reflects-ambitious-national-plan/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=guyanas-model-green-town-reflects-ambitious-national-plan http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/guyanas-model-green-town-reflects-ambitious-national-plan/#comments Thu, 03 Aug 2017 10:57:59 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151554 At the head of Guyana’s Essequibo River, 50 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, you will find the town of Bartica. Considered the gateway to Guyana’s interior, the town has a population of about 15,000 and is the launching point for people who work in the forests mining gold and diamonds. Under a new project, […]

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At the head of the Essequibo River, in Guyana, you will find the town of Bartica. A pilot initiative will make it the first model ‘green’ town,

The light-emitting diode (LED) is one of today's most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technologies. Under the Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP) project, the community of Bartica is set to benefit from the installation of energy efficient as well as LED street lighting. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
BARTICA, Guyana, Aug 3 2017 (IPS)

At the head of Guyana’s Essequibo River, 50 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, you will find the town of Bartica. Considered the gateway to Guyana’s interior, the town has a population of about 15,000 and is the launching point for people who work in the forests mining gold and diamonds.

Under a new project, Bartica is to benefit from the installation of a 20Kwp grid connected Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system at the 3-Mile Secondary School along with the installation of energy efficient lighting, as well as light-emitting diode (LED) street lighting.The implementation of the J-CCCP supports the government’s commitment to transitioning to the use of 100 percent renewable energy in public institutions by 2025.

The Ministry of the Presidency (MotP), through the Office of Climate Change, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), launched the Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP) in Bartica earlier this month.

The Partnership, which is being funded by the Government of Japan to the tune of 15 million dollars, supports countries in advancing the process of improving energy security planning for adaptation to climate change.

Head of the Office of Climate Change within the Ministry of the Presidency Janelle Christian said the partnership comes at an opportune time as it helps to advance the vision of President David Granger for Bartica to be developed as a model ‘green’ town.

“The J-CCCP project and the support that Guyana has been benefiting from and continues to benefit from is set within the framework of the ‘Green’ State Development Strategy (GSDS)… The pilot initiative that will be implemented in Bartica is a direct response to the President’s pronouncement on Bartica becoming the first model ‘green’ town,” she said.

The GSDS provides a framework for national development plans and policies for climate action.

Christian said that the implementation of the J-CCCP supports the government’s commitment to transitioning to the use of 100 percent renewable energy in public institutions by 2025.

“These initiatives have to date, through budgetary support and also resources that we have been able to leverage through our development partners, already started taking effect,” she said.

“The project here in Bartica is not unique to Bartica but it is part of that national programme where we would’ve already seen through the leadership of the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) some schools being installed with photovoltaic system (PVs).

“Further, under the Ministry of Communities, I believe as part of the initiative for all of the townships, there is and has been budgeted resources for installation of LED street lighting and we felt that those projects must align with those national plans with respect to our achievement and implementation of those commitments that we have made,” Christian added.

United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Mikiko Tanaka said that the launching of the Partnership is in line with Guyana’s ‘green’ development trajectory. “The resources will undoubtedly contribute to enhancing Guyana’s and the other seven beneficiary countries’ ability to respond to climate risk and opportunities,” she said.

The partnership is part of a regional initiative that was officially launched in January 2016 and has been implemented in Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and now Guyana.

Tanaka explained that the partnership is part of the global effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as it relates to the climate action.

“The achievements from this project would ultimately support Guyana’s pursuit of evolving into a ‘green’ state, as it fosters a platform for collaborative efforts . . . the project allows for the adaptation and implementation of mitigation and adaptation technologies, which gives Guyana the flexibility to identify, develop and implement demonstration pilot projects that seek to address significant climate related ramifications,” she said.

Meanwhile, Programme Specialist at the UNDP, Dr. Patrick Chesney said that the partnership is an important response that emphasizes partnership between a developed country and developing countries.

“This is an ambitious response, and we must match that ambition with our energy with our passion and with knowledge.  Guyana is the second greenest country on this earth, so the move towards establishing a green state is simply putting in place the architecture, the mechanisms and ensuring that all we do is contributing to making and keeping Guyana green,” Chesney said.

Additionally, Mayor of Bartica, Gifford Marshall praised the organisations for implementing the Partnership in the community, which he said demonstrates the Government’s interest in developing the township of Bartica.

“It is most importantly a visionary council that was elected by the people for the development of Bartica, we are committed to serve, we were elected to serve and that’s what we will do, and these projects of course will bring about major transformation to the township of Bartica,” Marshall said.

Project Manager Yoko Ebisawa said the J-CCCP is designed to strengthen the capacity of countries in the Caribbean to invest in climate change mitigation and adaptation technologies, as prioritised in their Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).

These technologies will help reduce the dependence on fossil fuel imports, setting the region on a low-emission development path; as well as improve the region’s ability to respond to climate risks and opportunities in the long-run, through resilient development approaches that go beyond disaster response to extreme events, she said.

The J-CCCP brings together policy makers, experts and representatives of communities to encourage policy innovation for climate technology incubation and diffusion. By doing so, the partnership aims to ensure that barriers to the implementation of climate-resilient technologies are addressed and overcome in a participatory and efficient manner.

As a result, concrete mitigation and adaption will be implemented on the ground, in line with the countries’ long-term strategies. Building upon and supported by the NAMAs and NAPs, the partnership also supports the incubation of climate technology into targeted public sectors, private industries, and community groups and enterprises so that green, low-emission climate-resilient technologies can be tested, refined, adopted, and sustained as practical measures to enhance national, sub-national and community level resilience.

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Climate Change Brings Migration from the Dry Corridor to Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coasthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/climate-change-brings-migration-dry-corridor-nicaraguas-caribbean-coast/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-change-brings-migration-dry-corridor-nicaraguas-caribbean-coast http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/climate-change-brings-migration-dry-corridor-nicaraguas-caribbean-coast/#respond Tue, 01 Aug 2017 07:20:34 +0000 Jose Adan Silva http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151516 If the impact of drought and poverty in the municipalities of the so-called Dry Corridor in Nicaragua continues pushing the agricultural frontier towards the Caribbean coast, by the year 2050 this area will have lost all its forests and nature reserves, experts predict. Denis Meléndez, facilitator of the National Board for Risk Management, told IPS […]

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Peasant farmers on a farm in the town of Sébaco, in the northern Nicaraguan department of Matagalpa, part of the Dry Corridor of Central America, where this year rains have been generous, after years of drought. Credit: Wilmer López/IPS

Peasant farmers on a farm in the town of Sébaco, in the northern Nicaraguan department of Matagalpa, part of the Dry Corridor of Central America, where this year rains have been generous, after years of drought. Credit: Wilmer López/IPS

By José Adán Silva
MATAGALPA, Nicaragua, Aug 1 2017 (IPS)

If the impact of drought and poverty in the municipalities of the so-called Dry Corridor in Nicaragua continues pushing the agricultural frontier towards the Caribbean coast, by the year 2050 this area will have lost all its forests and nature reserves, experts predict.

Denis Meléndez, facilitator of the National Board for Risk Management, told IPS that annually between 70,000 and 75,000 hectares of forests are lost in Nicaragua’s northern region and along the Caribbean coast, according to research carried out by this non-governmental organisation that monitors the government’s environmental record.

This phenomenon, he explained, occurs mainly due to the impact of climate change in the Dry Corridor, a vast area that comprises 37 municipalities in central and northern Nicaragua, which begins in the west, at the border with Honduras, and ends in the departments of Matagalpa and Jinotega, bordering the eastern North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCN).“They are peasant farmers who are unaware that most of the land in the Caribbean is most suitable for forestry,and they cut the trees, burn the grasslands, plant crops and breed livestock, destroying the ecosystem.” -- Denis Meléndez

The Dry Corridor in Central America is an arid strip of lowlands that runs along the Pacific coast through Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

In this Central American eco-region, which is home to 10.5 million people, according to data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the cyclical droughts have been aggravated by climate change and the gradual devastation of natural resources by the local populations.

In Nicaragua, it encompasses areas near the RACCN, a territory of over 33,000 square kilometres, with a population mostly belonging to the indigenous Miskito people, and which has the biggest forest reserve in Nicaragua and Central America: Bosawas.

From these generally dry territories, said Meléndez, there has been an invasion of farmers to the RACCN – many of them mestizos or people of mixed-race heritage, who the native inhabitants pejoratively refer to as “colonists“ – fleeing the rigours of climate change, who have settled in indigenous areas in this Caribbean region.

“They are peasant farmers who are unaware that most of the land in the Caribbean is most suitable for forestry,and they cut the trees, burn the grasslands, plant crops and breed livestock, destroying the ecosystem,“ Meléndez complained.

He said that if the loss of forests continues at the current pace, by 2050 the Dry Corridor will reach all the way to the Caribbean coast.

IPS visited several rural towns in the northern department of Matagalpa, where four of the 37 municipalities of the Corridor are located: San Isidro, Terrabona, Ciudad Darío and Sébaco.

In Sébaco, the rains have been generous since the rainy season started in May, which made the farmers forget the hardships of the past years.

There is green everywhere, and enthusiasm in the agricultural areas, which between 2013 and early 2016 suffered loss after loss in their crops due to the drought.

“The weather has been nice this year, it had been a long time since we enjoyed this rainwater which is a blessing from God,” 67-year-old Arístides Silva told IPS.

Silva and other farmers in Sébaco and neighbouring localities do not like to talk about the displacement towards other communities near the Caribbean coast, “to avoid conflicts.“

A good winter or rainy season this year in the tropical areas in northern Nicaragua curbed migration towards the neighbouring Northern Caribbean Region by farmers who use the slash-and-burn method, devastating to the forests. Credit: Wilmer López/IPS

A good winter or rainy season this year in the tropical areas in northern Nicaragua curbed migration towards the neighbouring Northern Caribbean Region by farmers who use the slash-and-burn method, devastating to the forests. Credit: Wilmer López/IPS

“I know two or three families who have gone to the coast to work, but because the landowners want them because we know how to make the land produce. We don’t go there to invade other people’s land,“ said Agenor Sánchez, who grows vegetables in Sébaco, on land leased from a relative.

But like Meléndez, human rights, social and environmental organisations emphasise the magnitude of the displacement of people from the Dry Corridor to Caribbean coastal areas since 2005.

Ecologist Jaime Incer Barquero, a former environment minister, told IPS that this is not a new problem. “For 40 years I have been warning about the ecological disaster of the Dry Corridor and the Caribbean, but the authorities haven’t paid attention to me,“ he complained.

The scientist pointed out that the shifting of the agricultural frontier from the Dry Corridor to the Caribbean forest and its coastal ecosystems threatens the sources of water that supply over 300,000 indigenous people in the area, because when the trees in the forest are cut, water is not absorbed by the soil, leading to runoff and landslides.

“There are thousands of ‘colonists’ devastating the biosphere reserve in Bosawas, which is the last big lung in Central America, and it is endangered,”

Abdel García, climate change officer at the non-governmental Humboldt Centre, told IPS that during the nearly four years of drought that affected the country, the risk of environmental devastation extended beyond the Dry Corridor towards the Caribbean.

He believes the expansion of the Dry Corridor farming practices towards the Caribbean region is a serious problem, since the soil along the coast is less productive and cannot withstand the traditional crops grown in the Corridor.

While the soils of the Corridor stay fertile for up to 20 years, in the Caribbean the soil, which is more suited to forestry, is sometimes fertile for just two or three years.

That drives farmers to encroach on the forest in order to keep planting, using their traditional slash-and-burn method.

According to García, the expansion of the Corridor would impact on the Caribbean coastal ecosystems and put pressure on protected areas, such as Bosawas.

The environmentalist said the Caribbean region is already facing environmental problems similar to those in the Corridor, such as changes in rainfall regimes, an increase in winds, and the penetration of sea water in coastal areas that used to be covered by dense pine forests or mangroves that have been cut down over the last 10 years.

The climate monitoring carried out by the Humboldt Centre, one of the most reputable institutions and the most proactive in overseeing and defending the environment in the country, found that the average rainfall in the Corridor fell from 1,000 to 1,400 millimetres per square metre to half that in 2015.

The migration of farmers from the Corridor, where about 500,000 people live, towards the Caribbean is also having on impact on human rights, since the Caribbean regions are by law state-protected territories, and the encroachment by outsiders has led to abuse and violence between indigenous people and ‘colonists’.

María Luisa Acosta, head of the Legal Aid Centre for Indigenous Peoples, has denounced this violence before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

In her view, the growing number of outsiders moving into the Caribbean region is part of a business involving major interests, promoted and supported by government agencies to exploit the natural resources in the indigenous lands along the Caribbean with impunity.

For its part, the government officially denies that there is conflict generated by the influx of outsiders in the RACCN, but is taking measures to reinforce food security in the Dry Corridor, in an attempt to curb migration towards the Caribbean.

Of Nicaragua’s population of 6.2 million people, 29.6 per cent live in poverty and 8.3 per cent in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank’s latest update, from April.

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Central America Fights Climate Change with Minimal Foreign Aidhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/central-america-fights-climate-change-minimal-foreign-aid/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=central-america-fights-climate-change-minimal-foreign-aid http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/central-america-fights-climate-change-minimal-foreign-aid/#respond Mon, 31 Jul 2017 07:05:54 +0000 Diego Arguedas Ortiz http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151490 Despite the fact that Central America is one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change, it has half-empty coffers when it comes to funding efforts against the phenomenon, in part because it receives mere crumbs in foreign aid to face the impacts of the rise in temperatures. According to a study released in June, […]

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A Green Energy Shift in Barbados, One Streetlight at a Timehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/green-energy-shift-barbados-one-streetlight-time/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=green-energy-shift-barbados-one-streetlight-time http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/green-energy-shift-barbados-one-streetlight-time/#respond Fri, 28 Jul 2017 22:26:42 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151514 The ever-escalating and volatile price of oil, and the high cost of importation, have left Barbados and other island nations in the unenviable position of having the highest electricity prices in the world. But a new shift towards renewables is driving down greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation, buildings’ heating and cooling, and transport, and […]

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A Green Energy Shift in Barbados, One Streetlight at a Time

By Desmond Brown
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jul 28 2017 (IPS)

The ever-escalating and volatile price of oil, and the high cost of importation, have left Barbados and other island nations in the unenviable position of having the highest electricity prices in the world.

But a new shift towards renewables is driving down greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation, buildings’ heating and cooling, and transport, and saving taxpayer money in the process.

In addition to changing out street lights and retrofitting the 13 government buildings, a project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union (EU) will also see the use of more electric vehicles in Barbados.

While the Barbados government leads the renewables drive, everyone on the island is catching on. In addition to the solar panels and water heaters which can be seen on government buildings, hospitals, police stations and bus shelters, thousands of private homes also have them installed. And desalinization plants are installing large photovoltaic arrays to help defray their own electricity costs.

“Of course, we must embrace the role of energy efficiency in this master plan because this is one of the low hanging fruits for Barbados in the transition to clean energy,” said the Head of the Green Economy and Resilience Section of the EU Peter Sturesson. “This will assist in the reduction of the fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions and by that, lowering the carbon footprint of the island.”

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Barbados Steps Up Plans for Renewables, Energy Efficiencyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/barbados-steps-plans-renewables-energy-efficiency/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=barbados-steps-plans-renewables-energy-efficiency http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/barbados-steps-plans-renewables-energy-efficiency/#respond Thu, 27 Jul 2017 00:01:54 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151446 With wind, solar and other renewable energy sources steadily increasing their share in energy consumption across the Caribbean, Barbados is taking steps to further reduce the need for CO2-emitting fossil fuel energy. The tiny Caribbean island is rolling out a project to reduce both electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while driving down government’s fuel […]

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Minister with responsibility for energy of Barbados, Darcy Boyce (right). Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Barbados’ minister with responsibility for energy, Darcy Boyce (right). Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jul 27 2017 (IPS)

With wind, solar and other renewable energy sources steadily increasing their share in energy consumption across the Caribbean, Barbados is taking steps to further reduce the need for CO2-emitting fossil fuel energy.

The tiny Caribbean island is rolling out a project to reduce both electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while driving down government’s fuel import bill.In addition to changing out the street lights and retrofitting the 13 government buildings, the project will also see the use of more electric vehicles in Barbados.

The country is hoping to save up to 3 million dollars in electricity bills annually with the implementation of a 24.6-million-dollar Public Sector Smart Energy Programme (PSPP).

The project, which is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union (EU), includes changing out close to 30,000 street lights across the country, replacing them with Light Emitting Diode (LED) fixtures.

“So, this project will save us a couple million dollars a year, [up to] 3 million a year. It is a small amount in the context of Barbados but it is a start to save some money,” Minister with responsibility for Energy Darcy Boyce said, while explaining that based on a 2009 study, government is aiming for a 29 percent per year reduction in electricity consumption through various methods of renewable energy use and energy efficiency.

“When that is combined with the work to retrofit 13 government buildings with solar photovoltaic, it begins to add up.”

Boyce acknowledged that government is a significant user of electricity, adding that the street lamps account for a great portion of that usage.

Renewables have become a major contributor to the energy transition occurring in many parts of the world and the growth in renewables continues to bolster climate change mitigation.

In December 2013, Barbados passed the Electric Light and Power Act (ELPA) in parliament and later amended it in April 2015. It replaced the original 116-year-old Electric Light and Power Act which was passed in 1899.

The ELPA revised the law relating to the supply and use of electricity and promotes the generation of electricity from sources of renewable energy, to enhance the security and reliability of the supply of electricity and to provide for related matters.

A key aim of the government in passing the Act was reducing the Bds$800 million fuel import bill (50 percent of which is used to generate electricity). It also intended to promote the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources and allows independent power producers to supply electricity in addition to the Barbados Light and Power Company (BL&P).

Boyce urged those involved in the PSPP to “keep the momentum going”, adding that it was his intention for Barbados to reach 100 percent reliance on renewable energy by 2045 as outlined in the BL&P 100/100 Vision.

“The Light & Power has reached to a wonderful point where they are committing to have 100 percent renewable energy within 30 years. I pressed them and I wanted them there by 2035 but they say no, 2045 and I will live with 2045,” Boyce said.

“And that I think is really a very good commitment to the country’s economy because when we reduce the use of fossil fuels, when we reduce the importation of fossil fuels whether it is by efficiency gains or it is by renewable energy, we reduce the amount of foreign exchange that we use.”

The shift towards renewables is driving down greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation, buildings’ heating and cooling, and transport.

In addition to changing out the street lights and retrofitting the 13 government buildings, the project will also see the use of more electric vehicles in Barbados.

So far government has two electric vehicles as part of a pilot project and is expected to procure about six more by the end of this year.

Head of the Green Economy and Resilience Section of the EU Peter Sturesson urged officials to go even further to focus on energy efficiency, pointing out that this is an important aspect if the country is to save critical foreign exchange.

“As you know, the European Union remains committed to support renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable development in Barbados and in the Caribbean region,” Sturesson said.

“Of course, we must embrace the role of energy efficiency in this master plan because this is one of the low hanging fruits for Barbados in the transition to clean energy. This will assist in the reduction of the fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions and by that, lowering the carbon footprint of the island.”

Sturesson pointed out that the project marked “yet another milestone” in Barbados’ development.

While the Barbados government leads the renewables drive, everyone on the island is catching on. In addition to the solar panels and water heaters which can be seen on government buildings, hospitals, police stations and bus shelters, thousands of private homes also have them installed. And desalinization plants are installing large photovoltaic arrays to help defray their own electricity costs.

The combination of the ever-escalating and volatile price of oil, and the cost of importation, place Barbados and other island nations in the unenviable position of having the highest electricity prices in the world.

The effective cost of electricity in Barbados is around $0.65/kWh. This rate varies slightly from residential to commercial power users. Roughly 60 percent of the bill is simply a fuel charge. This component, the Fuel Clause Adjustment (FCA), varies month to month but has been increasing at a normalized rate of 3.7 percent per year over the past seven years.

Representative of the IDB Juan Carlos De La Hoz Viñas said there are many benefits to be derived by reducing the cost of electricity in the country.

“We all know and it’s part of the day to day conversation with the private sector that electricity costs are a major hurdle in terms of doing business in the country. So every attempt to reduce the electricity cost is a path to a greater competitiveness in the country,” he said.

“This is part of a long-standing cooperation between the IDB, European Union and the Government of Barbados to establish a sustainable energy matrix in Barbados.”

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Tobago Gears Up to Fight Sargassum Invasionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/tobago-gears-fight-sargassum-invasion/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tobago-gears-fight-sargassum-invasion http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/tobago-gears-fight-sargassum-invasion/#comments Tue, 25 Jul 2017 00:01:35 +0000 Jewel Fraser http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151421 As Tobago’s tourism industry struggles to repel the sargassum invasions that have smothered its beaches with massive layers of seaweed as far as the eye can see – in some places half a metre thick – and left residents retching from the stench, the island’s government is working to establish an early warning system that […]

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Sargassum inundates a beach on Barbados. Credit: H. Oxenford/Mission Blue

Sargassum inundates a beach on Barbados. Credit: H. Oxenford/Mission Blue

By Jewel Fraser
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jul 25 2017 (IPS)

As Tobago’s tourism industry struggles to repel the sargassum invasions that have smothered its beaches with massive layers of seaweed as far as the eye can see – in some places half a metre thick – and left residents retching from the stench, the island’s government is working to establish an early warning system that will alert islanders to imminent invasions so they can take defensive action.

The Deputy Director of Trinidad and Tobago’s Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA), Dr. Rahanna Juman, told IPS, “After the 2015 sargassum event, the IMA got stakeholders together and developed a sargassum response plan. We looked at some sort of early warning mechanism [using satellites]. We know that it comes off of the South American mainland. If we know when it is coming and we can forecast which part of the coast it is going to land, we can inform the relevant regional authority so they can put things in place.A particularly heart-rending consequence of the sargassum invasions has been the devastation it causes to turtle nesting sites on the island.

“We have this network set up. We got the Met Services to provide an idea of where [the sargassum] is going to land,” she said.

The 2010-2015 State of the Marine Environment (SOME) report, released in May this year by the IMA, states, “Sargassum invasion of Trinidad and Tobago’s beaches is a relatively novel phenomenon for which we have been largely unprepared for in the past. However, with climate change causing continuous warming of the oceans, it appears that future events are likely.”

The country experienced massive onslaughts of sargassum, a type of seaweed, in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015, and some again this year. “Sargassum is a natural phenomenon,” said Dr. Juman, but it was the quantity of the seaweed that stunned the public during these years.

The consequences for Tobago’s tourism industry have been debilitating.

A director on the board of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association, Environment Tobago and the Association of Tobago Dive Operators, Wendy Austin, told IPS the first major event for the Tobago tourism industry was in 2015. “People were cancelling their bookings. Visitors were having to move, particularly from the north end of the island. Speyside had it very bad and the smell was awful. The restaurants had to close because people were not coming out to eat.” As the sargassum rotted, it emitted a nauseating stench.

“This year we have been hit fairly hard once again,” Austin added. “Recommendations have been put forward to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) as to how the situation can be handled environmentally so that tourism would then have fewer problems. However, there is no money to put these recommendations into action.”

The THA reportedly spent approximately 500,000 dollars during one year to clear up the decaying sargassum.

Apart from the tourism industry taking a hit, the country’s marine environment has also been adversely affected .

A particularly heart-rending consequence of the sargassum invasions has been the devastation it causes to turtle nesting sites on the island. The SOME report notes, “Ecologically, both adult and juvenile sea turtles can become entangled in the thick masses.”

Dr. Juman said hatchlings making their way out to sea from Tobago’s shores in 2015 got caught in the mass of sargassum, as well as many leaving the beaches of Trinidad in the northeast after they were hatched. Local media reports earlier this year expressed fears that turtle hatchlings would die because of becoming entangled in the masses of sargassum that washed ashore in April.

Further, “sargassum can smother your coral reef and seagrass, and they can bring in organisms that are not native to [Tobago], so that can have a negative impact on the native species,” said Dr. Juman, who is a wetlands ecologist.

The SOME report notes that the seagrasses which the sargassum destroyed off southwest Tobago are important for the marine environment since they “stabilize bottom sediments, slow current flow, prevent erosion, and filter suspended nutrients and solids from coastal waters.”

In response to this phenomenon, as well as other threats caused by climate change to the nation’s coastlines, the Trinidad and Tobago government has established as a priority of its new Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) policy the objective of maintaining “the diversity, health and productivity of coastal and marine processes and ecosystems”.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Planning Marie Hinds said via e-mail that this objective, the eighth one listed under the ICZM policy, incorporates tackling the sargassum problem.

She said achieving the objective would involve implementing a “programme to manage/control the introduction of alien invasive species into the coastal and marine zones.”

Establishment of an ICZM policy was a requirement of the Inter-American Development Bank for Trinidad and Tobago to access funding to deal with climate change, Hinds added. The ICZM policy will facilitate coordination and cooperation between civil society, government and the private sector in addressing the impacts of climate change.

However, there is still relatively little research data on which to base decision-making and management of the sargassum problem because it is such a new phenomenon, said Dr. Juman.

Among the proposals for disposing of the sargassum is to transform it into a biogas. But, “if you are going to invest in some sort of industry…you have to have a known quantity, you need to know how much, you need to have a consistent supply.

“You also need research to quantify such an industry’s impact on the fishing and shipping industry, as well as tourism. We do not have that kind of data,” said Dr. Juman. “Having the research and knowing how to treat with it so we can be proactive not reactive,” she said, was important for the IMA in finding solutions to the sargassum problem.

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Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast Pools Efforts Against Climate Changehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/costa-ricas-caribbean-coast-pools-efforts-climate-change/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=costa-ricas-caribbean-coast-pools-efforts-climate-change http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/costa-ricas-caribbean-coast-pools-efforts-climate-change/#comments Mon, 24 Jul 2017 03:18:10 +0000 Diego Arguedas Ortiz http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151406 Jonathan Barrantes walks between the rows of shoots, naming one by one each species in the tree nursery that he manages, in the south of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coastal region. There are fruit trees, ceibas that will take decades to grow to full size. and timber species for forestry plantations. The tree nursery run by […]

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