Monday, April 21, 2014

Florida communities prepare for rising seas

WASHINGTON — While the nation looks for solutions to the problem of rising sea levels, some coastal communities in Florida are taking action to save themselves from sinking into the ocean.

Hallandale Beach is preparing to pump excess groundwater into an aquifer. Fort Lauderdale has raised a coastal roadbed and is installing one-way "tidal valves" that flush water down storm drains but block seawater from rising back up.

And coastal communities farther north, from Palm Beach County to the Space Coast, are developing plans that would concentrate housing, businesses, water plants and wells on higher ground, less vulnerable to the rising sea.

"Florida is ground zero for sea-level rise," U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson told the Senate while announcing a field hearing in Miami Beach on Tuesday, which is Earth Day. "We've got quite a story to tell."

Nelson plans to highlight Florida's adaptations to its changing coastline when the Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space meets at 10 a.m. at Miami Beach City Hall.

Low-lying Florida, much of it barely above sea level, is among the first victims of global warming, which scientists say leads to rising seas. Nelson and experts on climate change see the state emerging as a model for how to deal with the inevitable consequences.

The seas already have risen 8 to 10 inches over the past hundred years, creeping closer to structures built near the ocean, said Nancy Gassman, acting assistant director of public works in Fort Lauderdale.

"It makes a difference about how we look to the future and build new infrastructure, recognizing that sea-level rise needs to be considered," she said.

The response dovetails with measures designed to deal with extreme high tides each fall and occasional storms, such as Hurricane Sandy. That storm severely eroded South Florida beaches in November 2012, crumbling 2,000 feet of one lane of State Road A1A along the beachfront.

With future storms and rising seas in mind, engineers propped up the restored roadway with sheets of metal that were driven into the ground until they hit bedrock. They raised the roadbed while sloping it to drain water.

"We're putting it back not just the way it was but in a way that enhances its resilience to future events," Gassman said.

A pilot project to install one-way tidal valves — which send groundwater down storm drains but won't let water rise back up — has proven successful, she said.

The city also is considering stormwater parks — open spaces lined with plants, about the size of a few housing lots — where groundwater can be pooled to prevent flooding on surrounding property. And it is considering "bio-swales," narrow strips along roadways that are lined with vegetation and porous material to suck water more quickly below the surface.

Flat, low-lying Hallandale Beach already faces the threat of salty seawater flowing into its freshwater supply, a problem aggravated by sea-level rise.

The city once planned to spend $10 million to move its water system away from the sea, but leaders instead decided last year to pump surface water into an underground aquifer no longer used for drinking water.

"What we realized is that this is a good strategy not only for our drainage but in light of sea-level rise," said Earl King, assistant utilities director in Hallandale Beach.

Some communities farther north are beginning to assess the impact of rising seas while considering ways to protect existing buildings and shift new development to higher ground.

"As we build for the future, we have to take sea-level rise into account and fortify existing infrastructure, such as wells and water facilities," said Palm Beach CountyCommissioner Steven Abrams. "And we might need more frequent beach re-nourishment."

Satellite Beach, sitting on a barrier island along the Space Coast, cannot protect itself behind dikes or sea walls because water would seep through the porous limestone beneath it.

The city eventually may have to abandon some homes along the oceanfront and move toward multi-family housing complexes on higher ground, said John Fergus, a member of the city's planning advisory board.

"People would still buy homes, but do it with the understanding that this place won't be here 300 or 400 years from now," he said. More

 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mushroom Hunter and Mycotechnologist Extraordinaire

Ken Miller received a national award for his article on Paul Stamets which was featured in Discover Magazine.

Paul Stamets

 

For Paul Stamets, the phrase mushroom hunt does not denote a leisurely stroll with a napkin-lined basket. This morning, a half-dozen of us are struggling to keep up with the mycologist as he charges through a fir-and-alder forest on Cartes Island, British Columbia. It s raining steadily, and the moss beneath our feet is slick, but Stamets, 57, barrels across it like a grizzly bear heading for a stump full of honey. He vaults over fallen trees, scrambles up muddy ravines, plows through shin-deep puddles in his rubber boots. He never slows down, but he halts abruptly whenever a specimen demands his attention.


This outing is part of a workshop on the fungi commonly known as mushrooms — a class of organisms whose cell walls are stiffened by a molecule called chitin instead of the cellulose found in plants, and whose most ardent scientific evangelist is the man ahead of us. Stamets is trying to find a patch of chanterelles, a variety known for its exquisite flavor. But the species that stop him in his tracks, and bring a look of bliss to his bushy-bearded face, possess qualities far beyond the culinary.


He points to a clutch of plump oyster mushrooms halfway up an alder trunk. These could clean up oil spills all over the planet, he says. He ducks beneath a rotting log, where a rare, beehive-like Agarikon

dangles. This could provide a defense against weaponized smallpox. Read PDF


 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Seychelles Climate Change Ambassador Jumeau at "Sustainability Conference

Ambassador Ronny Jumeau said, "Each island has it's own specificity but common problems we all face are climate change, sea level rise, problem with coral reefs, diminishing fisheries. We have food security problems, especially in low lying islands. You have water security problems on islands. We have all sorts of problems that are similar because we are islands."

Jumeau continued on to say the common mistake islands make is looking towards bigger countries for help instead of helping one another. He said the days of reaching out with a begging bowl are over and islands should come out and say "come help us help ourselves" instead. With Guam having a university and sustainability center, Jumeau added that we already have knowledge we can share.

"We are all trying to find solutions and very often one mistake we made over the many years, we tend to look towards bigger countries because they're richer or more powerful for the solutions but they don't think like us. The best thing is for us to talk before we reach out so we find out what we want to do on our islands and how do we solve these problems," he said.

Jumeau advised Guam to engage the whole community in educating ourselves about climate change because only a few things about climate change is new. He expained that it's great to have the youth interested but also to look towards our elders who have already been through many natural disasters and have more knowledge about our island.

 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Island Nations Build Ocean Thermal Power to Reduce Dependency on Fossil Fuels

Seawater is proving to be one way to combat climate change by reducing fossil fuel dependency for some ocean island nations. Taking a page from land-based geothermal power which uses the coolness below ground in heat exchange systems, islands are using the thermal energy gradient in a column of seawater to generate electricity.

The technology is known as Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion or OTEC. A French defense contractor, DCNS Group, is the latest to deploy it in the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. It plans a second project in Martinique which is expected to come online in 2015.

Lockheed Martin, the American defense contractor, has been working with OTEC for over a decade. When I previously wrote about this technology I described apilot project Lockheed was building in Southern China. The company currently plans to have an OTEC power plant operating offshore in Hawaii.

Why offshore? Because OTEC projects need to be on or near the water. The Lockheed and DCNS technology above the water looks very much like a marine production oil platform (see picture below).

Because the ocean is a great energy storage medium, in fact, the largest on the planet, we can take advantage of the temperature gradient that occurs in a column of water and use it to our advantage. Surface water can be as warm as 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) off islands like Reunion and Martinique. At depths of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet), however, that water remains a constant 4-5 degrees Celsius (39-41 Fahrenheit). Go deeper and you approach freezing temperatures or below freezing. The difference in temperature between surface and deep water is what makes OTEC work.

OTEC technology is built using a membrane that serves as a heat exchanger. The warm surface water is exposed to a liquid with a low boiling point. DCNS uses ammonia. When it gasifies the ammonia drives a turbine which is attached to a gemerator. The second part of the OTEC technology involves drawing the cold from below to act as a coolant. This condenses the ammonia back to a liquid state where the process can then be repeated.

Key to OTEC's successful deployment is the finding of island and coastal locations that currently experience high energy costs because fossil fuels need to be imported for energy generation. The second key is locations where there is a sufficiently high temperature gradient in nearby ocean and seas. Japan, China, the Bahamas, Curacao, South Korea and Hawaii are current locations where OTEC is under development or being considered. For countries looking to lower their carbon footprint with all the right keys in place, OTEC may prove to be a strong renewable energy play. More

 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grid parity: Why electric utilities should struggle to sleep at night

What’s good news for those concerned with climate change, and bad news for electric utilities? That’s grid parity, which is sometimes called socket parity. It exists when an alternative energy source generates electricity at a cost matching the price of power from the electric grid.

As grid parity becomes increasingly common, renewable energy could transform our world and slow the effects of climate change. Advances in solar panels and battery storage will make it more realistic for consumers to dump their electric utility, and power their homes through solar energy that is stored in batteries for cloudy days.

“I think the grid gets disrupted,” said NRG Energy chief executive David Crane. “The only question is do you want to be the disruptor or do you want to get disrupted.”

Our world is increasingly cordless, and power appears likely to follow. While we’re not there yet, the momentum behind distributed energy is building.

The Rocky Mountain Institute has said that tens of millions of commercial and residential customers will have grid parity by 2030 and perhaps 2020. Hawaii is already there as a result of high energy costs associated with being an island.

Other estimates are more aggressive. A 2013 Deutsche Bank report said that 10 states are currently at grid parity: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Vermont. According to a 2013 note by Citi Research, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Australia have reached grid parity.

This shift has benefited from a dramatic drop in the price of solar panels, which dropped 97.2 percent from 1975 to 2012, according to GTM Research.

For electric utilities to truly be challenged, batteries are just as important as solar panels. With batteries excess energy could be stored. Tesla announced in February it’s building a gigafactory, which it envisions producing more lithium ion batteries by 2020 than were produced worldwide in 2013. The scale of the operation should drive down prices further (Tesla estimates over 30 percent). Some of these batteries will be used by SolarCity, a leader in installing residential solar panels.

SolarCity has a pilot program in California, in which batteries store solar power. It has complained that electric utilities are slowing its rollout. NRG Energy hopes to have a similar product available by the end of 2014.

If utilities are dragging their feet on SolarCity’s initiative, it’s easy to understand why. As solar energy gets cheaper, traditional electric utilities are doing the opposite. The cost of maintaining the electric grid has gotten more expensive, but reliability hasn’t improved. The investments of electrical utilities appear to be poorly spent.

If customers leave electric utilities, it starts a downward spiral. Fewer customers will mean higher rates, which encourages remaining customers to jump ship for a solar-battery system.

Electric utilities appear poorly equipped for how technology will transform the energy industry. For years there hasn’t been an incentive to innovate, in part due to a lack of competition. Plus, making their product cheaper means less revenue, so why innovate?

Meanwhile, energy upstarts are led by forward thinkers with disruptive track records and eyes on society’s big problems, such as climate change and our dependence on fossil fuels for energy. SolarCity chairman Elon Musk co-founded PayPal and leads Tesla, which could transform the auto industry.

NRG’s Crane speaks of having his company mentioned in the same breath as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. It’s radical to imagine anyone feeling passionate about their source of power, but environmental concerns may make it common soon. New devices such as Nest’s popular thermostat are making consumers rethink what to expect from the companies and gadgets that manage their energy.

Crane highlighted the climate change concerns in a recent letter to shareholders: “The day is coming when our children sit us down in our dotage, look us straight in the eye, with an acute sense of betrayal and disappointment in theirs, and whisper to us, ‘You knew… and you didn’t do anything about it. Why?’” More

Besides Hawaii being at Grid Parity, the Cayman Islands and many SIDS that are dependant on fossil fuel for generating electricity are at grid parity. Editor

 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Ohio State University presents Jeffrey Sachs


On April 4, 2014, Jeffrey Sachs spoke at Ohio State University on "The Age of Sustainable Development." Professor Sachs's lecture was both the Keynote Address for the COMPAS Program's Spring Conference and the inaugural Provost's Discovery Themes Lecture. Introductory comments are presented by Michael Neblo ofOSU's Political Science Department, Executive Dean and Vice Provost, David Manderscheid, and Executive Vice President and Provost, Joseph Steinmetz. After his lecture, Professor Sachs was joined on stage by Professors Elena Irwin and lan Sheldon, both of Ohio State's Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics Department for a discussion that was moderated by Michael Neblo.


Links:

OSU COMPAS Program: http://compas.osu.edu

OSU Discovery Themes Initiative: http://discovery.osu.edu

Thursday, April 10, 2014

One English Town’s Innovative Response To Sea Level Rise

Vast stretches of the Somerset Levels, an expanse of coastal plains and wetlands in southwest England, have spent much of the winter underwater. At the peak of the crisis, some 11,500 hectares (28,420 acres) was submerged as violent storms brought “biblical” deluges week after week, for months on end.

Along Britain’s scenic coastline, 80 mph gales and tidal surges have left cliffs crumbling into the rough sea, beaches and sand dunes eroded, sea defenses breached, and shorelines and harbors damaged beyond recognition.

The cliffs at Birling Gap on the East Sussex coast have suffered seven years of erosion in just two months, as over nine feet of the soft chalky cliffs fell into the sea. At Formby, on the Sefton coast, the sand dunes saw two years worth of erosion in just one epically stormy December afternoon. At South Milton Sands in Devon, sand dunes have been completely destabilized and fences and boardwalks washed away. And the list of destruction goes on and on.

All along the coast of the U.K. and in other coastal communities around the world, the threat of sea level rise and more violent storms is forcing towns and governments to make difficult choices — build higher, build stronger, or retreat. In the U.S., both strategies are being explored. Famous for its levy system, New Orleansis now also incorporating open spaces designed to flood into city planning, following designs pioneered by the Dutch. For its part, much of the New Jersey coast, devastated by Superstorm Sandy, is choosing to rely almost entirely on bigger artificial sand dunes to hold the ocean back as towns attempt to rebuild right where they were before the hurricane hit.

The U.K.’s Environment Agency is experimenting with a kind of coordinated retreat for the hardest to defend coastal areas, a tactic referred to as managed coastal realignment. It’s a controversial approach for a relatively small island nation. But the recent wild winter storms are starting to change attitudes — strategic surrender suddenly seems like it may be the smart, sustainable solution.

Getting Smart, Not Giving Up

Hostile and fearful, that’s how Adrian Thomas describes the mood in the room when West Sussex residents were told that the Medmerry sea wall in the south of England would no longer be defended.

“People thought we were giving up,” said Thomas who works as a project manager for the U.K.’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). “People wanted to know why we couldn’t just build a bigger sea wall or make it out of concrete. After so many years of fighting this fight, no one wanted to hear that we just weren’t going to fight anymore.”

What the community was being presented with back in 2008 were plans for thelargest ever managed realignment of the U.K. coast — effectively moving the coastline several kilometers inland. For decades, the Environment Agency, charged with managing flood defenses in the U.K., has maintained a one kilometer sea wall built out of shingle — a shingle bank — from the beach along the coast between the town of Selsey and Bracklesham on the Manhood Peninsula in southern England.

Since the 1990s, the probability of the shingle bank being breached in any given year, however, was one in one, necessitating that the Environment Agency haul a fleet of diggers out to the beach each winter and reconstruct what nature seemed so determined to destroy. The average price tag for this un-winnable war was around £200,000 ($332,000) annually. Were the bank not repaired, however, the likely inundation zone would include the only road to Selsey, 360 homes in Selsey, a water treatment plant serving 12,000 people and multiple seasonal vacation home developments with hundreds of rental cottages. The last time the wall was seriously compromised during winter storms was in 2008. The resultant flooding cost over £5 million ($8.3 million) in damages.

The controversial plan? Cut a 100 meter channel into the shingle bank and let the ocean reclaim 500 hectares of land, transforming three farms and the RSPB nature reserve into a saltwater marsh. Then behind the newly created inter-tidal zone, about two kilometers inland, build a new seven kilometer curved clay embankment — completely “realign” the coast. The price? £28 million ($46.5 million). The coastal realignment not only moves the sea wall further inland, it also creates a powerful buffer zone of marsh that can absorb storm energy. Interestingly, there is archeological evidence that the area was originally dominated by saltwater marsh hundreds of years ago.

“If you do the math, you can’t help but wonder how a scheme that cost £28 million ($46.5 million) can be justified if it only costs £0.2 million ($332,000) to maintain the sea wall each year,” said Thomas of RSPB which owned the 50 hectares of land adjacent to the old sea wall. “But of course, it’s £0.2 million ($332,000) based on current sea levels. If you factor in sea level rise due to climate change — about an extra meter in the next 100 years — and the fact that the south of England is still tipping into the sea after the last ice age, that’s just not going to be the price in the future. Never mind the financial side, it may simply not be technically feasible.”

Early Returns

The past winter was incredibly revealing. Andy Gilham, the Environment Agency’s Regional Flood Risk Manager, believes that because of the intensity and repetition of the brutal storms that pummeled much of the U.K. with hurricane force winds and relentless rain for months, the agency just would not have physically been able to maintain the shingle bank this year.

Fortunately, the Medmerry Managed Realignment Project was completed in November after two years of construction work and just weeks before the first of the winter storms rolled in around Christmas. And the general sentiment among the project leaders and business owners and residents is that the very non-intuitive plan of punching a hole in a flood wall to reduce flooding, actually worked.

“The mood music has definitely changed,” said Thomas. “From hostile and fearful to delighted and surprised.”

Allan Chamberlain, the Estate Director at Medmerry Park Holiday Village, a development consisting of 308 vacation rental homes adjacent to the realignment scheme, will readily admit that he is shocked by how well the realigned coastline protected the area from this winter’s epic flooding.

“I think initially we had the impression we were giving up and just letting it flood,” said Chamberlain. “But when you look at it now, you can see that it is progress, not defeat. Not only were we not flooded by the sea, but the project also appears to have made the surface flooding from rain less severe. The rainwater drains into the new marsh beautifully.”

“It’s the first winter in years we haven’t had to deal with surface flooding,” he added. “We were all hoping the project just wouldn’t make it any worse, but it appears to actually be making it much better.”

Chamberlain is also thrilled about the new tourist attraction created by the expanded nature reserve. He has already noticed an increase in visitors to the park even though the season has barely begun and not all the trails around the reserve are finished. Before the realignment project there were just two short stretches of public foot paths around the small, 50 hectare RSPB reserve. Now there are 10 kilometers of foot paths and seven kilometers of new bike paths in an area completely dependent on tourism for the local economy. In addition to attracting more people, the project has also actually extended the tourism season in the area. Bunn Leisure in Selsey, the largest vacation home development in the area, once only allowed to be open for eight months because of the risk of flooding, can now extend its season for an additional two months. The vacation home park employs over 300 people.

Chamberlain is applying for a similar permit extension.

‘We Are Very Aware That We Live On An Island’

Not everyone shares Chamberlain’s enthusiasm. Ben Cooper, who owns an IT consulting company and is a member of the Selsey Town Council, still has his concerns. He would have liked to see the Environment Agency consider other alternatives such as constructing rock barriers out in the ocean in front of the coast to break wave energy.

“When you live on a small island like the U.K. it’s hard to see land go,” he said. “I think we gave up too easily and before the Environment Agency tries this somewhere else, I hope they wait and see how the project stands the test of time. Once you give land back to the sea, there’s no getting it back, so if this doesn’t work, we will have given up that land for nothing.”

One of the especially contentious issues at the beginning of the Medmerry project was the fact that in order to create the realignment project, three productive farms growing oilseed rape and winter wheat would have to be sacrificed to the sea.

“In the U.K. we are very aware that we live on an island,” said Thomas. “We know we’re not self-sufficient already, so the idea of letting go of perfectly good agricultural land struck many people as wasteful and short-sighted.”

Indeed, around the U.K. this winter, the fact that developed property is given priority for flood protection over agricultural land has led many people to question the sustainability of the Environment Agency’s approach.

The area won’t lose all of its food production value, however. The newly created estuary-like environment is expected to become an important fish nursery that will boost the local commercial fishing economy in Selsey. The salt marsh vegetation will also be farmed — not the waving wheat and barley people are accustomed to, but the land can be used for low intensity cattle grazing to produce salt marsh beef a premier meat product.

The people with the biggest reservations about the Medmerry project are actually not from the area at all.

“People in Somerset who have had to endure terrible flooding this winter are quite upset about the whole thing,” said Chamberlain. “They want to know why the Environment Agency is spending £28 million on a ‘bird park’ when they could desperately have used those funds to dredge rivers and mitigate flooding in their area.”

As it turns out, the only reason the Environment Agency was able to set aside the money for the Medmerry scheme was precisely because they were creating habitat for birds. As Andy Gilham explained, under the E.U. Habitats and Birds Directive, the U.K. is required to compensate for wildlife habitat being destroyed elsewhere along the coast by creating new habitat. In the south of England especially, areas designated as Special Areas of Conservation along the Solent strait between the Isle of Wight and the mainland are being lost through a process known as “coastal squeeze.” Coastal squeeze refers to the loss of coastal habitat as land on the seaward side of rigid coastal protection structures is eroded away. The Medmerry project created nearly 200 new hectares of wetlands with similar ecological functions as the areas being lost to the west.

While the Environment Agency has done smaller coastal realignment projects in the past, Medmerry is by far the largest and the only scheme that realigns open ocean coastline, as opposed to coastline along an inland estuary. Projects similar to Medmerry are already under development. In May 2012, the Environment Agency began construction work on a coastal realignment project on the Steart Peninsula in southwest England. The project will create a new 400 hectare and provide flood protection for Steart village.

“I do feel resonance with the kind of gut human instinct that says we can win against nature,” said Thomas. “Surely we have the technology and fortitude. But there are different ways of winning. And I feel we’ve done the big win at Medmerry.” More

 

 

 

British Virgin Islanders speaking on need for alternative energy

 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Years of Living Dangerously Premiere Full Episode

Years of Living Dangerously Premiere Full Episode


Published on Apr 6, 2014 •

Hollywood celebrities and respected Journalists span the globe to explore the issues of climate change and cover intimate stories of human triumph and tragedy. Watch new episodes Sundays at 10PM ET/

PT, only on SHOWTIME.


Official site: http://www.sho.com/yearsoflivingdangerously

The Years Project: http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/

Follow: https://twitter.com/YEARSofLIVING

Like: https://www.facebook.com/YearsOfLiving

Watch on Showtime Anytime: http://s.sho.com/1 hoirn4

It's the biggest story of our time. Hollywood's brightest stars and today's most respected journalists explore the issues of climate change and bring you intimate accounts of triumph and tragedy. YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY takes you directly to the heart of the matter in this awe-inspiring and cinematic documentary series event from

Executive Producers James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ban praises small islands’ commitment to address climate change

2 April 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today praised the commitment by small islands in the Pacific to low-carbon development and urged them to continue their ambitious efforts to combat climate change and spur other nations to come to a binding agreement on this issue next year.

Kiribati

“Because you are on the front lines, you know that we are at a pivotal moment and that more needs to be done. You know that the world’s appetite for energy continues to grow, and the global thermostat continues to rise,” Mr. Ban said in his message to the Pacific launch of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, which took place in Fiji.

While Mr. Ban noted that small island nations face special challenges, such as rising sea levels, restricted markets and high energy prices due to their remote location, he also highlighted successful initiatives that are helping these countries achieve sustainable development.

“The Pacific Islands are demonstrating real global leadership in our shared efforts to make a much-needed transition to a new era in energy use and production,” he said. “Tokelau has become the first territory in the world to generate 100 per cent of its power from renewable energy, while our host, the government of Fiji, is demonstrating its commitment to support sustainable energy for all through concrete actions. These and other efforts are helping to point the way to a sustainable future.”

The period from 2014 to 2024 has been declared by the UN General Assembly as the Decade for Sustainable Energy for All and two years ago, Mr. Ban launched his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which seeks to achieve three inter-linked goals by 2030: universal access to modern energy, doubling energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy, thus providing services such as lighting, clean cooking and mechanical power in developing countries, as well as improved energy efficiency, especially in the world’s highest-energy consuming countries.

“There are climate solutions with a demonstrated track record of success. They are feasible, affordable and they can bring economic opportunity that supports our sustainable development goals,” the UN chief said in his message, delivered by the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Gyan Chandra Acharya.

“I therefore urge your Governments to continue to be ambitious as we move forward with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change process. Member States must deliver a global and legally binding agreement by 2015. Sustainable energy is also a central issue in discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.”

Mr. Ban stressed that the leadership of small island developing states will be crucial to advance on this issue and urged these nations to ensure that their voices are heard “loudly and clearly” at the Sustainable Energy for All Forum in June and at the climate summit in September. More

 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre's Deputy Director and Science Advisor Dr Ulric Trotz reviews the latest IPCC Report

Following the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report detailing impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability associated with climate change , Deputy Director and Science Advisor at the 5Cs Dr Ulric Trotz discussed the findings with leading Jamaican journalist Dionne Jackson-Miller on the flagship discussion programme “Beyond the Headlines” on Monday March 31, 2014 at 6:20 pm. Below is the audio clip and transcript of the interview

Dr Ulric Trotz
Mrs. Dionne Jackson Miller

And BBC’s Razia Iqbal and that was such an interesting point. Let me raise it with our guest. Let me start off with our guest Dr. Ulric Trotz who is Deputy Director and Science Advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, lots of alliteration going on there. Dr. Trotz thank you again, appreciate you joining us sir.

Dr. Trotz

Thank you too.

Mrs. Dionne Jackson Miller

That is your policy-makers. Now have these reports, they’ve got wide publicity around the world, they’ve got extensive media coverage, the reports coming out from the Intergovernmental Panel. Based on what you are seeing, have they had the effect of changing what you have been seeing and hearing from our policy-makers here in the Caribbean?

Dr. Trotz

Well, that’s a battle that we are fighting. As you’ve heard in the last interview, climate change is more or less stated as something in the future. And when you look at the political life of our political directorate, it really doesn’t match with that long term sort of view. Five years, ten years with climate change, we are talk about 2050, end of the century. That’s the language we discuss climate change in. So, we have made some progress in the Caribbean. In Jamaica, for instance, your own country, you now have a Ministry with responsibility for climate change. In several countries in the Caribbean there is some political movement. The problem is how do we get the resources to do the things that we have to do if we are going to deal with climate impacts in the Caribbean.

Mrs. Dionne Jackson Miller

Because I note, follow up on that, I know for instance that important work in the field had been done here in the Caribbean as well as elsewhere in the world. But the idea is, are the results of that research being translated into tangible action then into real action, into change, in terms of planning decisions, in terms of mitigating decisions and so on? Are we still fighting that fight?

Dr. Trotz

No, I don’t think so. We, at the Centre, made some tremendous progress regionally. In terms of looking at what is being done, learning from those lessons and trying to transfer this to the Caribbean. In terms of policy, we have just developed what we think is a very effective tool which will enable our policy-makers, particularly people in the Ministries of Finance and Planning to integrate climate risks into their planning horizon, so that climate risks are basically accounted for and this would be reflected in the final action that they agree on for implementation. But as I said earlier, that’s just the first step. The next step is getting the resources to carry out the implementation and this is where we as developing countries have a big fight on our hands. You could remember Sandy in New York, the floods in Britain. These things are happening in developed countries but they have the resources basically to deal with it. Holland, for instance, they have a one-in-a-thousand year defence mechanism for sea-level rise and floods. We in the Caribbean can hardly afford the resources to deal with a one-in-a-five year event much less a one-in-a-thousand year event.

Mrs. Dionne Jackson Miller

Is it possible, you think, or perhaps, I should say, likely that that issue of getting funding especially from the international community may now get easier with this report that people are now calling the most serious? Yet, some of the points being made that we seeing climate change affecting food security, we seeing it affecting human security; that people in poor countries are going to be feeling the effects disproportionately, that no one is safe and that they will continue to see severe difficulties in this regard. The word “risk” used over and over and over in the report, do you think that the Caribbean countries may be able to use this and piggyback on this to say to the international agencies “we need more aid in this respect”?

Dr. Trotz

Well, we have been saying that for a long time. As a matter of fact, that has been one of the sorts of foundations of our interface with the developed world under the umbrella of the convention. That is, look, as a region, we didn’t really contribute significantly to this problem. The problem we have now is a result of your pattern in development. But being in the region that we are, exposed to weather and climate elements, being poor (poverty), we are very vulnerable to the impacts. So we feel that you have some responsibility to provide resources to help us to protect ourselves from the impacts. This has not happened. Right now we are hoping that the Global Climate Fund, the GCF, would be capitalized at the level that was promised in Cancun, which is hopefully at a level of 100 billion dollars a year by 2020, which will allow countries to have access to the sort of resources we need for adaptation and for mitigation. The other point is, you know the authors of the report made a very telling statement which I think we need to worry about. And that is that climate change; you know we’ve been talking about 2020, 2030, 2050, etc. But this statement was from the evidence we have right now. We’re not speaking about a hypothetical future. That climate change is here and we are seeing impacts for instance in the bleaching of our coral reefs, the melting of the permafrost up in the Arctic, and distressingly the decreasing yields for wheat and corn and maize, the two staples that contribute to the whole question of hunger alleviation and food security. So, we in the Caribbean, our attitude at this point in time, is look, we are basically seeing changes in our weather, in our climate, the events in St. Vincent, Dominica and St. Lucia on Christmas Eve, very unusual, and it wasn’t a hurricane. It was just unusual rainfall which caused tremendous damage. And these extreme events, as we call them, are becoming much more frequent and much more devastating. So it’s a very worrisome scenario for us.

Mrs. Dionne Jackson Miller

Alright, we’re gonna leave it there and I thank you so much. I really appreciate you joining us.

Dr. Trotz

Thanks. It was a pleasure.

Mrs. Dionne Jackson Miller

Dr. Trotz talking to us there, Deputy Director and Science Advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.