Monday, July 29, 2013

Marshall Islands demand “climate leadership” from Australia

The Marshall Islands’ Vice President Tony de Brum has embarked on a tour of Australia to call for greater political leadership on climate change.

De Brum plans to target government ministers, business and the media in a move to raise awareness of the increasingly tough situation his country faces.

The 34 coral atolls that form the Marshall Islands are no more than two metres above sea level, making them especially vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

In June unusually high tides swamped the capital Majuro, closing the airport and destroying many homes.

Islands in the north have been suffering from severe drought since the start of 2013, with many households down to one litre a day.

“Australia has always been a big brother down south to us, even though we are up north. We think that anything that the Pacific Islands do in terms of climate change must have the blessing, the support and the voice of Australia and New Zealand to the outside world,” De Brum told ABC News.

Australia was recently elected onto the UN Security Council, and De Brum says it’s vital it uses its new influence to drive new ambition into efforts to cut global emissions, which are blamed for global warming.

“You [Australia] have circles of diplomatic friends far wider and much more powerful than each of us, or even of the small island states of the Pacific put together,” he said.

“Those important connections must be used to draw attention to the fact that climate change is now, it needs the attention of the world now, and the sacrifice of the large developed countries must be part of that solution.”

Sensitive issue

With elections looming, climate change is a politically toxic issue in Australia, which boasts the highest per capita emissions in the developed world, and is a leading coal exporter.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott is a regular critic of government efforts to cut emissions, branding emission trading a “so-called market” that deals in an “invisible substance”.

Current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently announced he would phase out a carbon tax that proved unpopular with heavy emitters, replacing it with a trading scheme in 2014.

The Marshall Islands will host a Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting in early September, which will be attended by representatives from China, the EU, India, Japan and Canada.

De Brum also told ABC he hopes US Secretary of State John Kerry will be able to make the meeting, which he hopes will end with a ‘Majuro Declaration’ for Climate Leadership to galvanize more ‘urgent and concrete’ action.

“I have no doubts that United Sates will see the absolute value of having Mr Kerry attend and that he will, in fact, attend. It is important to remember that in the last Forum in the Cook Islands, Mrs Clinton attended as US Secretary of State. More


Friday, July 26, 2013

Global warming and the future of storms

New research by Kerry Emanuel suggests that hurricanes will become more frequent and more intense

Dr. Kerry Emanuel

We know that changes we are making to the Earth's climate will (and currently are) affecting weather. Some of the impacts are clear to see and easy to quantify. For instance, in some regions, droughts are becoming more severe and longer lasting, while in other locations, the opposite is occurring – more precipitation is falling in heavier downbursts. Two competing issues have to be considered. First, increased temperatures are increasing evaporation rates i.e., drying is occurring. Second, increased temperatures lead to more water vapor in the atmosphere, which results in heavier rain/snow events. In regions that are currently dry, the first issue dominates, whereas in wet regions, the second is more important.

Despite these competing effects, scientists can detect changes in the drying/wetting patterns around the globe, and these are linked to human emissions.

Typhoon Sanba

For other weather patterns, the evidence is not as clear. For instance for tornadoes, our observations just aren't good enough to make categorical conclusions. Reliable records in the U.S. started in the early 1950s, but since then, there have been improvements in our sensing instruments, which makes it difficult to assess long-term trends.

A similar situation exists for hurricanes and cyclones. We are more able to observe and quantify these storms now, so we have to ask whether increases in these storms is caused by global warming, by improved measurements, or by both. Similarly, we have had very destructive storms in the U.S. recently, but is the damage due to more powerful storms or increased infrastructure in storm areas?

One useful tool that can help answer these questions are climate models. Climate models are like virtual reality computer programs. You can input today's conditions (wind speed, temperatures, pressures, etc.) and predict what will happen in the future. Today's weather forecasts use similar prediction tools. In some respects, "climate" computer programs and "weather" computer programs are different, but there are some clear similarities. "Weather" prediction programs try to give short-term prognostications of local weather a few days into the future. "Climate" predictions attempt to describe long-term trends in large-scale climate patterns years and decades into the future.

So, how can computer programs help us answer the hurricane/cyclone question? With the help of the program, a scientist can play "what if" scenarios and see how future storms will change. What if greenhouse gases increase? What if ocean temperatures increase? What if wind speeds change? How will these things affect the number and strength of hurricanes?

Very recently, a publication appeared by perhaps the world's best-known hurricane scientist, Dr. Kerry Emanuel of MIT. Dr. Emanuel combined global computer simulations with more regional simulations to look into the future at the evolution of storms. What he found was surprising. Because the storms will become stronger and more numerous, within the next century, the power dissipated by future storms will increase by about 50 percent. What was particularly interesting was that his findings show increases in both strong and weaker cyclones.

I asked Dr. Emanuel to summarize the present understanding of hurricanes, and he responded with the following insights:

• The incidence of high-intensity tropical cyclones (Safir-Simpson categories 3-5) should increase, and the amount of rainfall in these storms should increase, upping the potential for freshwater flooding. These changes will not necessarily occur where tropical cyclones develop and thrive today. "Indeed," wrote Emanuel, "it is likely that there will be decreasing activity in some places, and increasing activity in others; models do not agree on such regional changes."

• Though experts disagree on this point, Emanuel's work suggests that weak events (tropical storms and Cat 1-2 storms) will become more frequent.

• "Very little work has been done on the problem of storm size," wrote Emanuel, "what little research has been done suggests that storm diameters may increase with global temperature. This can have a profound influence on storm surges, which are the biggest killers in tropical cyclone disasters. " More


Monday, July 22, 2013

CCCCC launches online Climate Risk Management Tool for the Caribbean

12 July 2013: The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) launched an online tool for assisting Caribbean decision makers in assessing climate risks as part of their efforts to build climate resilience into their development policies, plans, programmes and projects.

The Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation Tool (CCORAL) outlines a step-by-step process to identify if an activity, such as a project, programme, strategy, plan, policy or legislation, is influenced by, or vulnerable to, climate change. CCORAL then creates pathways for the identification and implementation of adaptation and mitigation options.

CCORAL provides information both at the regional and country level. However, only the CARICOM countries can currently be selected individually when using CCORAL, although CCCCC emphasizes that it is possible to expand the tool to cover non-CARICOM Caribbean countries such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

CCORAL was developed by the CCCCC and Acclimatise with support from the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) under the Caribbean Climate Risk Management Project. It was constructed using inputs from Government ministries from four pilot countries, namely Barbados, Belize, Jamaica and Suriname, and consultations with civil society, business and financial services sectors, research institutions, university experts and development partners. The launch event was held on 12 July 2013, in Saint Lucia, presided over by Prime Minister Kenny Anthony. [CCCCC Press Release] [CCORAL Webpage]


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Short Term WHO Consultancy Available

Short Term WHO Consultancy Available - in Media and Health Inter-Sectoral Action.


TOR is as follows:

2. Description of tasks

Working closely with the Urban Health team, the contract holder will develop a policy brief on Impact Assessment for Multisectoral Action on Health.

Specifically, s/he will be tasked to:

Review relevant background literature and internal documents on Impact Assessment (including Health and other Impact Assessments) and Multisectoral Action on Health

Develop a policy brief on the topic, tailored to clarifying the concepts and importance of the use of impact assessment for media professionals.

3. Payment terms

The payment rate is US$ 200 per working day. The total expected number of working days is 30. The total amount is: US$ 200 x 30 days = US$ 6,000.

The consultant does not need to be at our office in Kobe, Japan.


For more information see:


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 2014 Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

The Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) took place in Kingston, Jamaica, from 2-4 July 2013.

This meeting was the first stop along the road to the Conference in Apia, Samoa in September 2014 and provided an opportunity for the Caribbean SIDS to: assess progress and remaining gaps in implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation; seek a renewed political commitment; identify new and emerging challenges and opportunities for sustainable development of SIDS; and identify priorities for the sustainable development of SIDS to be considered in the elaboration of the post-2015 UN development agenda.

Approximately 100 participants, including representatives of Caribbean governments, UN and regional agencies and organizations, and Major Groups, attended the three-day session. After two days of panel presentations and interactive discussions, government delegates met to identify priorities and draft the outcome document. This document was negotiated in a formal setting on Thursday. After two readings of the document, the twelve remaining delegates began a final round of negotiations at midnight and adopted the 44-paragraph Kingston Outcome of the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States at 4:55 am on Friday, 5 July 2014. The Kingston Outcome will be the basis of the Caribbean regional position at the Inter-regional Preparatory Meeting to be held in Barbados from 26-28 August 2013.

The Summary of this meeting is now available in PDF format and in HTML format at



“As a man sow, shall he reap, and I know that talk is cheap.” – Bob Marley

A year after governments at Rio+20 called for the convening of a third conference on SIDS, substantive preparations are now underway. The Caribbean regional preparatory meeting was the first stop along the road to the Third International Conference on SIDS, in Apia, Samoa in September 2014. It provided an opportunity for the Caribbean SIDS to assess progress and remaining gaps in implementation of the BPOA and MSI, identify new and emerging challenges and opportunities for sustainable development of SIDS, and identify priorities for the sustainable development of SIDS to be considered in the elaboration of the post-2015 UN development agenda.

This brief analysis will examine how the process evolved during the three-day preparatory meeting and how this will feed into the overall preparatory process for the 2014 Apia Conference. More