Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sitting here listening to the different speeches and presentations since this morning, I wonder whether I came to this conference just to be terrified.
You see, the worse the situation gets at the two poles, in the Arctic and the Antarctic, the more worried we islanders get — and the more frantic we are going to get — on the islands of the globe, including the SIDS, the small island developing states, of the tropics like Seychelles.
You see, ladies and gentlemen, as the poles melt, we drown…
And it’s not just about sea level rise being made worse and worse the more land ice melts at the poles and from the mountains and glaciers of the world and flows into the sea. Too often when people think of small islands and climate change, they think only of sea level rise…
But it is not just about that, as serious and as frightening it indeed is: the melting ice at the poles is not just contributing to sea level rise, it is affecting the oceans as drivers of the world’s climate as well. And don’t forget, while we may be the smallest countries in the world, many of us make up huge ocean territories.
So true, the seas around our islands, some of which are the lowest land on Earth, are rising, and coastal erosion is getting worse and worse to the extent that some islands may be swept away before the waves cover them and wipe them off the face of the Earth…
But it is also true that our own climate and weather, a world away from the polar regions, are changing because of what is happening to the oceans.
Let me give you an example from my own country Seychelles, where incidentally we are blowing up the granite of our mountains to get rocks to protect and save our beaches so bad is the coastal erosion. More
Monday, April 23, 2012
Just a quick reminder that we still accept applications for two partial scholarships for our new MSc programme in ‘Energy Policy for Sustainability’ for the 2012 entry. The programme is led by the Sussex Energy Group (SEG), one of the largest independent social science energy policy research groups in the world and a core partner in the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the UK Energy Research Centre.
For more information on the programme please see:
For more information on how to apply for the scholarships, please see:
Please forward this information to potentially interested students
Small islands have limited resources that are already heavily stressed. Due to a combination of natural, economic and geographic factors, most are only able to export a few products and many have a high dependence of intermediate imports. This makes them extremely vulnerable to climate change, high commodity prices, and volatile markets for agriculture, fisheries and tourism.
But more importantly there are new opportunities that they can seize to enhance resilience and sustainable development.
“In many SIDS countries there is a renewed role for agriculture to meet food security and nutrition needs,” said Michael Hailu of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). “This will require promoting local production and consumption by supporting the local farmers and linking agriculture to other sectors such as tourism, ICTs, and bio-energy, mainly the production of ethanol with crops like sugar cane.”
“There is usually great competition for land resources among tourism, agriculture and other land uses and the various uses should be carefully planned,” he added. “Agriculture for food security is a priority in Africa, but nutrition, input prices, and trade is more of a critical issue for Caribbean and Pacific countries.”
The meeting, Small Island Economies: From Vulnerabilities to Opportunities, held for the first time in Mauritius is the seventh Regional Policy meeting to review and discuss key issues and challenges for rural development faced by African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. The conference is being organized by CTA and hosted by the Government of Mauritius. More
Saturday, April 21, 2012
I do not wish to get ahead of the opinions of millions of persons, capable of making and in-depth and objective analysis of the problems affecting Latin America, the Caribbean and the rest of a globalized world, where a few has it all and the rest has nothing. The system imposed by imperialism in this hemisphere, whatever its name, is worn out and unsustainable.
In the near future, humanity will have to cope, among others, with the problems associated to climate change, security and the production of food for the ever-growing world population.
Excessive rainfall is affecting both Colombia and Venezuela. A recent analysis revealed that on March this year, high temperatures in the US were 4.8 Centigrade degrees hotter than the all-time average. The consequences of those changes, which are well known in the capitals of the main European countries, give rise to catastrophic problems for humanity.
Peoples expect political leaders to provide clear answers to these problems. More
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
For each case, the reports provide qualitative assessments of climate vulnerability across various sectors including: integrated water management; fisheries; risk and disaster management; energy; food security; and security and sovereignty.
According to the assessment reports, these countries face shared challenges due to climate change, such as water scarcity, extreme weather events, sea level rise and coastal erosion, and coral bleaching. The common methodological framework across all five assessments has allowed production of a regional strategy for climate change adaptation, which will be submitted for political acceptance by the concerned countries at the end of 2012.
Acclimate, which started in 2008, was commenced to strengthen the capacity of South-West Indian Ocean island States to adapt to climate change. The assessments aim to share knowledge and contribute to mainstreaming climate issues into national and regional policy processes. [Acclimate Website (in French)] [Comoros Assessment Report] [Madagascar Assessment Report] [Mauritius Assessment Report] [La Réunion (France) Assessment Report] [Seychelles Assessment Report] [Synthesis and Roadmap to a Regional Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation] [Indian Ocean Commission Website] More
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Lawmakers voted in favour of a private member’s motion by UDP backbencher Cline Glidden to make it easier for people to produce and use renewable energy in their homes or businesses.
The motion by Mr. Glidden, a West Bay Member of the Legislative Assembly, called for the government to “take all necessary steps to eliminate all utility-imposed restrictions on a person’s individual or business right to use renewable energy systems to offset utility consumption, thus reducing or eliminating utility costs and … to implement net metering using the [US] Interstate Renewable Energy Commission model rules for both net metering and grid interconnection”.
Under the current Consumer-owned Renewable Energy arrangement of Feed-in Tariff System, or FITS, the Caribbean Utilities Company, which has the exclusive right to distribute electricity in Grand Cayman, buys 100 per cent of electricity produced by alternative energy systems from those who have signed up for the programme at 37 cents per kilowatt hour. Those individuals then buy electricity back from CUC’s main grid at the retail rate, which is currently 29 cents per kilowatt hour.
Net metering enables a bi-directional flow of electricity. Throughout the day, a customer’s solar, wind-generated or other alternative energy system may produce more or less electricity than is needed for his or her home or business. When the system’s production exceeds the customer demand, the excess energy generation automatically goes through the electric meter into the utility grid, running the meter backward to credit the customer’s account. When the customer’s electricity demand is higher than the renewable energy system is producing, the customer relies on additional power from the utility company.
Mr. Glidden pointed out that there had not been much uptake from consumers of the pilot FITS system.
The one-year pilot programme was introduced in January 2010 and is under review. By last month, only nine people had signed up for the programme – eight residential customers and one commercial business.
“What is proposed in this motion is a system that would allow a homeowner to produce electricity for his own use and whatever electricity that is not used in its own facility, that would then be sold on to the gird, sold to CUC, at a rate equivalent to the rate that is charged by CUC. Hence, we have net metering,” said Mr Glidden. More
Monday, April 16, 2012
The Caribbean region including Jamaica and other Small Island Developing States lacks the resources to combat a major oil spill, delegates to a regional convention on oil spill prevention and response have been warned.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Havana, April 11, 2012: One of the major challenges facing Cuba as it designs climate change adaptation policies is the preservation of its coastal ecosystems against the predicted rise in sea level and increasingly catastrophic extreme weather events.
With the country’s 5,500 km of coastline and 4,000 cays and islets, almost everyone on the Cuban archipelago feels their life is tied to the sea in one way or another. “It’s lovely, but it is also dangerous,” said 78-year-old Teresa Marcial, who lives on the coast in Santa Fé, in the northern outskirts of Havana.
For decades, Marcial has lived with the ocean practically lapping her patio. In 2005, floods caused by hurricane Wilma left her family and neighbours virtually on the street. “Huge waves swept everything away. We were taken by surprise. The water took away an extremely heavy wardrobe, which simply disappeared,” she told IPS.
Her son, Martín Pérez Marcial, added that they have decided to sell their house and move to a safer place.
“But as you can imagine, with the expectation that future hurricanes will be more intense because of climate change, no one wants to come and live here,” said a neighbour who did not mention his name.
A few blocks away, builders are constructing a house that is raised more than two metres above ground level, using part of an older house and strong pillars for support. “If there is flooding, the water can circulate freely underneath the house,” said the construction foreman, José Luis Martínez.
Behind the house, which is being built by “self help”, as private construction initiatives are called in Cuba, there is an outer wall of solid concrete and hard stone. “It saves on cement, and does not require steel, which rusts over time,” Martínez said.
The talkative builder showed how the base of the containment wall has spillways for drainage, to let water flow back and forth. At the corners, the walls are shaped like a ship’s prow, “to break up the waves.” Several houses in the vicinity have similar walls, which “cost a pretty penny,” Pérez said.
Santa Fé is at permanent risk of flooding due to hurricanes. Studies by state bodies put it among the coastal areas of the capital that face the greatest direct impact of tropical storms, and to a lesser extent of rising sea levels.
Adaptation, an inevitable necessity
Carlos Rodríguez, a researcher on land use planning and the environment for the government’s Physical Planning Institute (IPF), says 577 human settlements could suffer the combined onslaught of rising sea levels and oversized waves from swells and storm surges associated with hurricanes.
In an interview with IPS, Rodríguez emphasised that according to a joint study by several Cuban scientific institutions, led by the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment and including IPF, an area of 2,550 square km of coast could be submerged by 2050.
By 2100, the flooded area could expand to some 5,600 square km, according to sea level rise projections, he said. More
The dominant narrative of our culture is that economic growth can continue indefinitely but the realities of resource depletion, peak oil and ecosystem collapse mean this is wishful thinking. Cameron Leckie explains that if permaculture becomes the new dominant narrative, it will ensure that the changes that will eventually be forced upon us will be empowering rather than authoritarian or dictatorial.
Narratives define our society. Pick any significant issue and it is the narrative, rather than the 'facts,' which define it. Narratives have been part of the human experience for millennia and no doubt will continue to do so for millennia to come. They drive how we view the world, the way we live and the decisions that we make.
Narratives do not necessarily reflect reality. Rather they offer a version of reality which suits the group or groups of people that believe in the narrative (or want you to believe). Examples include religious or other groups which try to convince others that the end of the world is nigh but that the true believers will be saved and the cargo cults of the Pacific who believed that a combination of magic and religious rituals would result in more cargo/material goods arriving.
Narratives change over time. Change occurs as societies develop new understandings or differing groups within a society attempt to convince others of a particular narrative. Over time a dominant narrative tends to form. This does not happen by accident but is both perpetuated and strengthened through culture, media institutions, politicians and society at large. More
Thursday, April 12, 2012
TRAFALGAR VILLAGE, West Berbice, Guyana (AlertNet) – Rural women living on the coast of Guyana have turned to beekeeping to boost their income while at the same time helping preserve the mangrove forests that protect the coast from rising seas.
Mangroves comprise just one percent of the 160,000 square kilometres (62,000 square miles) of natural vegetation in this South American nation. But the mangroves stabilise sediment and play an important role in coastal protection, vital for a coastline vulnerable to rising seas and heavy storms, problems experts link to climate change.
Now a project funded by the government of Guyana and the European Union to strengthen the country’s sea defences is giving local women the opportunity to profit from keeping bees, which thrive in and around the mangroves.
The scheme aims to give the women an economic stake in preserving the mangroves and thereby help protect some of the country’s prime agricultural land on the coast from flooding.
Donette Cummings, a recent convert to beekeeping in Trafalgar village, has learned through the project about the varied benefits of the mangrove ecosystem.
“I know that the mangroves protect the coastline from the sea and that (they are) a home for the bees. The mangroves have a lot of flowers and you get a lot of honey at a faster rate from them,” Cummings said.
She and some of her neighbours began keeping bees in October and are looking forward to their first honey harvest.
“We hope that in a next three months we start getting honey, and from our projection we think it will be good for us and at least bring in some income,” she said. More
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, April 12, 2012 - A waste-to-energy facility expected to process approximately 350 tonnes of solid waste a day, and provide between 10 to 14 megawatts of electricity is on the cards for Barbados.
This was announced by the island’s Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr Denis Lowe, as he disclosed that Cabinet had recently approved BDS$377 million for the creation of a Mangrove Pond Green Energy Complex.
Along with the waste-to-energy facility, this complex will include a solar power facility, a wind energy facility, the Mangrove Pond Beautification Programme, the construction of a new mechanical maintenance facility, and the Landfill Gas Management System.
Dr Lowe said the complex formed part of Government's efforts to develop a comprehensive programme to manage solid waste disposal and create energy options for the country.
"What we are also going to be doing in that package of services is to decommission cells one, two and three [at the Landfill], and commission the new cell four towards the end of June," he said.
The projects listed under the programme are expected to assist with the development of the infrastructure that is necessary for achieving sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness in the execution of solid waste management in Barbados. More
The Cayman Islands should, no matter where the new land-fill is placed, seriously consider a major recycling program. Editor
The Pentagon knows it. The world’s largest insurers know it. Now, governments may be overthrown because of it. It is climate change, and it is real. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, last month was the hottest March on record for the United States since 1895, when records were first kept, with average temperatures of 8.6 degrees F above average. More than 15,000 March high-temperature records were broken nationally. Drought, wildfires, tornadoes and other extreme weather events are already plaguing the country.
Across the world in the Maldives, rising sea levels continue to threaten this Indian Ocean archipelago. It is the world’s lowest-lying nation, on average only 1.3 meters above sea level. The plight of the Maldives gained global prominence when its young president, the first-ever democratically elected there, Mohamed Nasheed, became one of the world’s leading voices against climate change, especially in the lead-up to the 2009 U.N. climate-change summit in Copenhagen. Nasheed held a ministerial meeting underwater, with his cabinet in scuba gear, to illustrate the potential disaster.
In February, Nasheed was ousted from his presidency at gunpoint. The Obama administration, through State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, said of the coup d’etat, “This was handled constitutionally.” When I spoke to Nasheed last month, he told me: “It was really shocking and deeply disturbing that the United States government so instantly recognized the former dictatorship coming back again. ... The European governments have not recognized the new regime in the Maldives.” There is a parallel between national positions on climate change and support or opposition to the Maldives coup.
Nasheed is the subject of a new documentary, “The Island President,” in which his remarkable trajectory is traced. He was a student activist under the dictatorship of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and was arrested and tortured, along with many others. By 2008, when elections were finally held, Gayoom lost, and Nasheed was elected. As he told me, though: “It’s easy to beat a dictator, but it’s not so easy to get rid of a dictatorship. The networks, the intricacies, the institutions and everything that the dictatorship has established remains, even after the elections.” On the morning of Feb. 7, 2012, under threat of death to him and his supporters from rebelling army generals, Nasheed resigned.
While no direct link has been found yet between Nasheed’s climate activism and the coup, it was clear in Copenhagen in 2009 that he was a thorn in the Obama administration’s side. Nasheed and other representatives from AOSIS, the Alliance of Small Island States, were taking a stand to defend their nations’ very existence, and building alliances with grass-roots groups like 350.org, that challenge corporate-dominated climate policy. More
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Choking on Rising Fuel Costs for Electricity, Barbados Launches Multiple Source-Multiple Use Renewable Energy Plan
Another sign of the rapidly changing (for the better) energy landscape: the southeastern Caribbean island nation of Barbados is taking an integrated, multiple source-multiple use approach as it launches a program to shift away from its almost total reliance on imported fossil fuel imports to clean, homegrown renewable sources for electricity generation and other uses.
The Barbadian cabinet on April 5 approved the US$188.5 million Mangrove Pond Green Energy Complex, according to a Caribbean Journal report. The complex is to include solar power and wind power facilities, a new Mechanical Maintenance Facility, a Waste-to-Energy Facility, and a Landfill Gas Management System.
In total, the Barbadian government expects the Mangrove Pond Green Energy Complex to produce more than 25 MW of clean electrical power that can be sold on to the island nation’s grid, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Barbados relies almost entirely (96%) on fuel oil and diesel to generate electricity; 90% of it imported. That’s comparable to what the island nation spends on education. Barbados’s bill for oil imports in 2009 and 2010 totaled some $230 million, which amounts to nearly 6% of national GDP, about what it spends on education, Senator Darcy Boyce was quoted as saying in a Barbados Today article.
Barbados’s Sustainable Energy Framework
The government intends to reduce Barbados’s oil import bill significantly, Boyce, who heads the Prime Minister’s Energy Office, told attendees gathered for the launch of the Energy Efficiency Awareness Programme of the Sustainable Energy Framework for Barbados Pilot Project.
The aim of the Sustainable Energy Framework for Barbados Pilot Project is to reduce fossil fuel use by some 30% by bringing renewable energy resources online, and to reduce electricity demand by over 21% by implementing energy efficiency measures and technologies over a 20-year period. TheInter-American Development Bank (IADB) is contributing $1 million in investment grants and loans through the World Bank Group’s Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Rising global market prices for crude oil and derivatives have been rising consistently for several years, putting greater financial pressure on local businesses and residents alike. The direct effect rising fuel costs have on ratepayers’ pocketbooks and businesses’ operating budgets is compounded by the indirect effects, as they flow through into prices of all imports and are passed on to consumers. More
Monday, April 2, 2012
We need many strong voices speaking together -- the voices of people from all those regions that the 2007 IPCC IV Report identified as “vulnerable.”
by: Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Inuit environment, culture and human rights advocate, and former political leader, Ronald Jumeau, Seychelles Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing State Issues