Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gambia: Adaptation to Climate Change, Coastal Project Launched

From; The Daily Observer (Banjul)


A sub-regional project involving five countries, including The Gambia, was yesterday launched at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel in Banjul.

Acquired and implemented by the National Environment Agency (NEA) on behalf of the Government of The Gambia, the adaptation to Climate Change and Coastal (ACCC) project is funded through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with counter funding from participating governments - The Gambia, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania and Senegal. The goal of this project is to develop and pilot a range of effective coping mechanisms for reducing the impact of climate change induced by coastal erosion in vulnerable regions in the five participating countries.

In his launching statement, Nyada Yorro Baldeh, permanent secretary, deputising for the secretary of state for Forestry and Environment, said that climate change has become a global concern because of its expected consequences, impacts and the associated environmental hazards. These expected consequences of climate change, he added, are broadly categorised as: increase in air temperature; sea level rise from the thermal expansion of oceans; and changes in precipitation patterns.

Friday, April 17, 2009

“Start of dying of a ­civilization”

April 17, 2009

Indigenous communities unite against climate change

From: Nunatsiaq News


WASHINGTON - What do Nunavut, Niue and Sahka have in common?

Nunavut, the coral island in the South Pacific and the Siberian state are all populated by indigenous communities that are being adversely affected by climate change.

And two weeks ago officials and scientists from these disparate lands met in Washington D.C. to discuss how to bring attention to their common climate crises.

Their group, Many Strong Voices, unites indigenous peoples from the Arctic with those from the tiny coral isles sprinkled throughout the globe's oceans, known in the lingo of climate change policy as "small island developing states."

Many Strong Voices was spawned on the heels of a 2005 United Nations climate policy meeting in Montreal and met for the first time in Belize two years later.

Patricia Cochran, the chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, says Inuit and other indigenous groups threatened by climate change will “not assume the role of powerless victims.”

Delegates at this month's conference included Nunavummiut along with Micronesians, Cook Islanders, Athabaskans, Barbadians and Seychellans.

"We want to tell the world that the Inuit hunter falling through the ice and the Pacific Islander fishing on rising seas are connected," said Sheila Watt-Cloutier, former president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council and a nominee for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Four years ago, Watt-Cloutier gained worldwide recognition by indicting the United States in front of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for producing most of the greenhouse gas emissions that were warming the Arctic at rates twice as fast as elsewhere on the planet.

"This is the start of the dying of a civilization," warned Dr. Rolph Payet, a lead author of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and an economic advisor to the president of the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean just north of Madagascar.

If the sea level rises just several feet, as the IPCC predicts, much of Payet's homeland will be inundated.

"Who will be prepared to chuck away a 1,000 year-old album with the history of all their ancestors overnight?" Payet asked during one session.

The near-term goal of Many Small Voices is to gain support for the greatest emissions reductions possible at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen this December.

But for Alaska, even a miracle in Copenhagen can't reverse damage already done.

Patricia Cochran, an Alaskan Inupiat and current chair of the ICC, presented a harrowing slideshow of her homeland.

In Shishmaref, homes hug cliffs that are crumbling because of melting permafrost into seas more likely to be beset by storms as rising temperatures reduce sea ice.

The media has publicized this town's problems, but there are half a dozen other villages just like Shishmaref, noted Cochran.

Ice that hunters have relied on for centuries is also melting earlier and shifting. Last year a convoy of more than 200 snowmobiles had to be rescued by helicopter after sea ice unexpectedly broke up, said Cochran.

"There is not one of us without a friend who has taken their snow machine out and not come back home again," she said. "That's what we face every day. These, in my opinion, are climate related incidents."

Other incidents include wildfires and scorching heat waves.

"We will not assume the role of powerless victims," said Cochran. "We will do everything we can to ensure our people who have been here for centuries will be here for centuries more."

Nick Illauq, deputy mayor of Clyde River, voiced a different concern.

"Everyone is rushing to the Arctic to get our resources," said Illauq. "To me, that's my biggest fear. We are very poor, we ask for money and we don't get it. We know we are destroying [the earth] and yet we rush to find resources."

After a closing meal the final evening of the conference, Illauq spoke with Billy Talagi, an assistant minister from the tiny South Pacific island nation of Niue.

"I want to have the next Many Small Voices conference in my town," said Illauq.

"That would be good," said Talagi, "because people could actually see, see with their naked eyes."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Government of New South Wales (Australia)proposes Sea Level Rise Policy

From: New South Wales Government Website

In the 20th century, the global average sea level rose by 17 cm and sea levels are projected to continue to rise. There is strong national and international evidence supporting a projected rise of up to 40 cm by 2050, and 90 cm by 2100, for the NSW coastline.

Coastal land has been subject to natural coastal hazards for thousands of years, including coastal erosion and coastal flooding. Projected sea level rises will increase these hazards, and NSW needs to plan now for these long-term impacts to minimise social and economic disruption.

To support sea level rise adaptation, the NSW Government has prepared a Draft Sea Level Rise Policy Statement (09125DraftSLRpolicy.pdf, 63 KB). This sets out the Government's approach to sea level rise, the risks to property owners from coastal processes and assistance that Government provides to councils to reduce the risks of coastal hazards.

The draft Policy Statement includes sea level planning benchmarks which have been developed to support consistent consideration of sea level rise in land-use planning and coastal investment decision-making. The adopted benchmarks are for a rise relative to 1990 mean sea levels of 40 cm by 2050 and 90 cm by 2100. These benchmarks represent the Government's guidance on sea level rise projections for use in decision-making and are not regulatory standards.

A technical note (09126DraftSLRTechNote.pdf, 249 KB) has been prepared which explains how these benchmarks were derived from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and CSIRO reports. Most other states have developed sea level rise benchmarks. Victoria has recently adopted a benchmark of 80 cm by 2100 and South Australia has adopted 30 cm by 2050 and 100 cm by 2100 - the minor differences between these benchmarks are due to regional variations in sea levels.

The West frets over new sea level predictions

From: BBC News Online
By James Painter
Summarised by Veronique Carola
15th April 2009

Higher estimates of sea-level rise have alarmed the Americas climate change experts, reports BBC. After being presented with new climate change findings in Copenhagen, experts are increasingly worried over the potential implications of a higher estimate of sea level rise on the coastal environment. New estimates now tell us to expect a sea level rise of over one meter, meaning more inundation and the need for better planning strategies.

‘This new data on sea-level rise is alarming’, says Arnoldo Matus Kramer, a researcher on climate change adaptation at Oxford University. ‘When combined with the exponential growth of urbanisation and tourism along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican Caribbean, it is extremely worrying’.
The World Bank has pin-pointed Guyana, Belize and Jamaica as being particularly at risk from a one-meter rise. New sea-level predictions will flood areas in Guyana where 70% of the total population and 40% of agriculture is located. In most Caribbean Island states, 50% of the population lives within 2km of the coast. In another study done by World Bank on more than 80 developing countries, Ecuador features among the top 10 countries likely to be most affected by sea level rise when calculated as a percentage of its GDP.
Climate Change influences on marine ecosystem will affect, amongst other key areas, the fishing industry and especially impact on AMOC- Atlantic Meridonial Overturning Current- the giant ocean circulation of the Atlantic. The temperature changes expected to AMOC will affect marine ecosystems and coastal communities where it circulates. For countries such as New York and Florida, this will mean additional rise in sea-levels by the end of the century.
‘There is urgent need for Latin American leaders to take account of these new figures in sea level rises in designing new policies,’ says Mr Kramer.

Map shows cities most at risk in the Americas.