COP19: Roadmap for 2015 agreement critical for successful outcome in Warsaw say LDC governments

Green climate fund11 November 2013, Warsaw:  “The Least Developed Countries are the poorest and most vulnerable group of countries in the world, who contribute the least to the problems of climate change. We are likely to suffer some of the worst loss and damages, and are least able to cope with them – without substantial financial and technical support. Our very future therefore not only depends on the world keeping global warming temperature to below 1.5°C, but also on how much financial and technical support is made available for adaptation and sustainable development. We therefore need to see concrete outcomes of the talks here in Warsaw and progress towards a strong 2015 agreement.” says the Chair of the group Mr. Prakash Mathema. Continue reading

Sub-Saharan Africa, southern Asia, most at risk from climate change

Aimee Rae Ocampo: 4 November 2013: Flooding from typhoons and monsoon rains was considered the worst natural disaster in 2012, displacing more than 22 million people. The majority of the affected people are based in India, Nigeria, the Philippines and Pakistan — the same countries now considered extremely vulnerable to the impact of climate change. The effects of the recent typhoon in the Philippines are not yet clear, but at least 10,000 people are thought to have died.

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On the occasion of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly on the follow-­up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit, the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE)1 calls for a Global Partnership that will advance a just and transformative development agenda in the Post-­2015 Era. Continue reading

NGOs demand that Green Climate Fund doesn’t water down its activities

23 September 2013: In a letter to the Board of the Green Climate Fund civil society organisations urge the Board to uphold its principles and adopt the most robust environmental and social protections

Dear Members and Alternate Members of the Board of the Green Climate Fund:

We are organizations, movements and civil society groups from developing countries with decades of experience working for the rights and aspirations of peoples and communities. We are writing to express our unified call for the adoption of the most robust environmental and social protections at the Green Climate Fund.[i] We are joined in solidarity by the undersigned organizations based in developed countries. Continue reading

Rising Seas Not the Only Culprit Behind Kiribati’s Woes

TARAWA, Kiribati, Sep 20: Scientists say dredging, building causeways and natural climate variations are largely responsible for the flooding events that many officials here point to as evidence that climate change-induced sea-level rise is shrinking and destroying their tropical Pacific island.

At the United Nations, in multiple climate change conferences and in an interview here, President Anote Tong, the world’s unofficial spokesman for low-lying coral islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans, often says that Kiribati’s 103,000 inhabitants are fighting a rising sea on a daily basis.

He and other officials often point to widespread erosion of the island’s coastline and say that Tarawa is shrinking as the sea rises. A profile of Tong in the U.S. magazine The Nation was even headlined “Interview with a drowning president.”

“We’ve had a whole island disappear, a whole village has been evacuated, our freshwater is being contaminated and our crops are dying,” Tong told IPS in his office. He said his country was “on the front line of climate change”, adding that “time is running out” and emphasising the need for an evacuation plan.

But in fact, a scientific study showed that the southern part of Tarawa, where more than half the country’s population lives, is far from disappearing: in fact it, it is growing. A series of what the scientists called “disjointed reclamations”, involving pouring dredged coral sand over shallow reefs to create land, increased South Tarawa’s size by nearly 20 percent over 30 years.

Meanwhile, the area of the largely unpopulated north of the island remained stable (another study found similar stability in 27 other Pacific atolls).

Tetabo Nakara said that he resigned as environment minister a few years ago because Tong had forced him to focus government policy on relocation rather than on mitigation through improved coastal management, which Nakara said was more appropriate.

Climate scientists say the equatorial Central Pacific is the area in the world where the sea has risen fastest since 1950: 5.9 centimetres in just the past 20 years. That’s because an atmosphere warmed by heat-trapping gases like carbon monoxide and methane is in turn warming the ocean, and warm water takes up more volume than cold water. A second reason is that ancient glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are melting, pouring fresh water into the sea.

Tong’s adviser on climate change, Andrew Teem, regularly shows visitors examples of what he and Tong say is damage caused by rising seas. On a recent afternoon, he pointed to a breach in a seawall in the village of Eita, one of many around the island.

“We built this wall a few years ago to keep the sea out,” he said. “It breached during a storm, and the breach has been getting bigger. We just can’t win.”

Teem pointed to another locally iconic climate-change casualty, an island in Tarawa’s lagoon called Bikeman that was once dense with coconut groves. Today, it’s a barely visible pencil line on the horizon, a sandbank that disappears at high tide.

The village of Tebunginako in the island of Abaiang, a 15-minute flight away, is also frequently mentioned as evidence that the sea is rising. Its inhabitants moved their 100 or so thatched huts and houses half a kilometre away from the shore after the sea washed away a sandbank that protected a freshwater lagoon, flooding some homes and making growing crops impossible.

Countless climate change documentaries on Kiribati posted on YouTube show footage of waves crashing into houses during storms in 2005.

But scientists who have studied Kiribati say these events have explanations that have little to do with climate change.

The seawall in Eita was built to protect a low-lying mangrove that was filled with dredged coral sand so it could be used for housing as more and more people moved into South Tarawa. But most seawalls are poorly designed and reflect the energy of the waves in such a way that these wash away the sand at the walls’ base, causing them to collapse.

Bikeman Island disappeared because a causeway was built between two parts of the atoll, blocking a pass through which sand came in from the ocean side. Without this input, wave action slowly washed the sand away from Bikeman to other lagoon-side areas that saw their beaches grow.

The village of Tebunginako asked for help to understand why erosion was so much worse there than elsewhere. Scientists reported here that a nearby pass had disappeared a century ago, again depriving the beach of fresh sand.

The dramatic flooding of 2005 happened because of El Nino, a cyclical change in currents that moves warmer water east in the Pacific and is unrelated to climate change. El Nino caused the sea level in Tarawa to rise by more than 15 centimetres, says climate scientist Simon Donner of the University of British Columbia. That level hasn’t been reached since, he pointed out in a paper published in Eos, the journal of the American Geophysical Union.

“A visit to Tarawa can provide the false impression that it’s subject to constant flooding because of climate change,” Donner told IPS. “While it’s certainly experiencing some sea-level rise, people try to attribute current events to that trend and they often make elementary mistakes.”

In an e-mail exchange, he noted that erosion and floodings “are going to happen more and more frequently as the ocean rises. President Tong is right to sound the alarm now, because it won’t be an easy problem to solve.”

Donner contrasts this with the United States, where there is little talk and less action on sea-level rise. “No one is talking about giving up on Miami,” he said. “But they should, because the long-term picture is the same there too.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest assessment predicts a rise of anywhere between 25 cm and one metre by 2100, depending on carbon dioxide emissions.

UN report says climate change will strongly effect Timor-Leste’s development and growth challenges and opportunities

Dili, 16 Sept –   Climate change poses a severe threat to future growth and development in Timor-Leste and will require targeted mitigation and adaptive measures at the national and local levels to protect the country’s economy, infrastructure and overall progress.  This according to the final draft of the Initial National Communication on Climate Change or INC, the first in a series reports that will serve to develop a long-term Strategy and Action Plan to assess and mitigate the impact of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) and address climate-related vulnerabilities. Continue reading

Keeping LDCs at centre stage an development imperative says LDC Watch

16 Sept, Kathmandu: LDC Watch policy paper, issued today explains why LDCs must be central in planning the Sustainable Development Goals, prepared for the UN General Assembly Session starting this week.  The General Debate of this 68th session is focused on setting the stage of the Post-2015 Development Agenda while there is also a Special Event scheduled on 25 September to follow up on efforts on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).ldcwatch position paper on the post2015 sustainable developm

Bangladesh: Climate change creates excessive salt in drinking water, posing health risks

Dried up paddy field at Balia Bhekutia in Jessore

Dried up paddy field at Balia Bhekutia in Jessore

The presence of excessive salt in drinking water in the southwestern coastal districts is posing multiple health risks, including that of high blood pressure, kidney failure and diarrhoea. It also causes pre-eclampsia to which expecting mothers are particularly vulnerable.
The World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation recommend consuming maximum five grams of salt per day with food and drinks. But people of this salinity-affected region take up to 16 grams of salt just by drinking water, according to a research. Continue reading