Thursday, August 27, 2009

ST LUCIA TO HOST REGIONAL MEETING ON CLIMATE CHANGE

From: The Jamaica Observer

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

GEORGETOWN, Guyana
St Lucia will host a meeting of Caribbean Community (Caricom) ministers responsible for climate change next month.

The meeting comes ahead of the global conference on the subject in Denmark in December but officials say the meeting in Castries has assumed greater importance in the wake of a World Bank report listing six Caribbean countries as being among the most vulnerable to rising sea levels in the world.

The six are the Bahamas and Suriname, listed as the most vulnerable, Guyana, Jamaica, Belize and Haiti.
The bank study said Caribbean countries will suffer loses to the tune of US$11 billion by 2080 as the globe heats up, as ice melts and heads towards low lying states.

The September 14-16 meeting is intended to develop a unified Caribbean position for the conference and will fine tune plans to get the world to pay attention to the vulnerability of the region to rising sea levels as most of the tourism and other infrastructure are on the regional sea coast.

"The rising sea level is the key point for us and should be the sleeper topic at the meeting," said CARICOM spokesman Garfield Barnwell in reference to the United Nations climate change summit
in Copenhagen in December that is expected to be a controversial as other global summits on the topic in recent years.

Most Caribbean hotels, tourist resorts and even government buildings are located near the sea shore. With predictions that low-lying coastal states are going to be significantly affected, the region
wants the topic to be accorded greater importance at the conference said Barnwell.

Caricom is also expected to push for annual compensation for avoided deforestation. Guyana, Suriname and Belize are the ones with significant forest cover and have a vested interest in this area in addition to discussions on sea level rise.

Guyana, the largest of the three, has already said that it estimates the value of its still standing forests at US$580 million annually and expects annuity payments to that amount as its contribution to low carbon emissions. But officials say that while the lobby for forest compensation is laudable, increased focus should be paid to sea level rise "as you cannot stop the water from coming in and destroying
your infrastructure."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

National parks may face climate threat

Former park service official offers policy suggestions for park service at Senate hearing

By Bob Berwyn
From: Summit daily news

ESTES PARK — Tiny mammals, moths and birds such as Colorado's famed ptarmigan are all threatened by rapid warming in mountain regions, and America's national parks — the jewels in her natural resource crown — could be most threatened of all. That's according to Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, speaking during a federal parks subcommittee hearing Tuesday in Estes Park.
Saunders, whose organization issued a landmark 2006 report on climate change threats to national parks, tried to rally Americans to protect natural treasures like Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. U.S. citizens have always responded when parks are in danger, he said, outlining concerns over more insect infestations, frequent wildfires and dramatic loss of habitat for many species.
Saunders said the National Park Service too often has looked the other way, citing climate change impacts as external forces beyond the control of planners. The agency is mandated by law and its own policies use all available authorities “to protect park resources and values from potentially harmful activities.”
“Sadly, the NPS has not yet followed its creed and exercised its authorities to address human disruption of the climate and its effects, the greatest threat ever to park resources and values,” Saunders said to members of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on National Parks.
Saunders backed up his claim by citing a report issued by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress. The federal auditors concluded that “Resource managers have limited guidance about whether or how to address climate change and, therefore, are uncertain about what actions, if any, they should take.”
That makes it a policy issue, said Saunders, who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior over the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization describes itself as mainstream coalition, with partners that include 14 local governments; Denver Water, the largest water provider in Colorado; five businesses, from the Aspen Skiing Company to Wright Water Engineers; and six nonprofits, from the Colorado Association of Ski Towns to Western Resource Advocates.
Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who chairs the Senate panel, and Sen. John McCain were both present for the field hearing.

More on the ‘potential impacts’ and ‘action needed’.