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News Article | May 18, 2017
Site: grist.org

Coastal residents of poor and fast-growing tropical countries face rapid increases in the numbers of once-rare floods they may face as seas rise, with a new statistical analysis offering troubling projections for regions where sea-level data is sparse. Stark increases in instances of flooding are projected for Pacific islands, parts of Southeast Asia, and coastlines along India, Africa, and South America in the years and decades ahead — before spreading to engulf nearly the entire tropical region, according to a study led by Sean Vitousek, a researcher at the University of Illinois, Chicago. “Imagine what it might feel like to live on a low-lying island nation in the Pacific, where not only your home, but your entire nation might be drowned,” Vitousek said. The researchers combined a statistical technique used to analyze extreme events with models simulating waves, storms, tides, and the sea level effects of global warming. They created snapshots of the future — flood projections that can be difficult to generate with the limited ocean data available in some places. “If it’s easy to flood with smaller water levels coming from the ocean side, then gradual sea-level rise can have a big impact,” Vitousek said. “For places like the Pacific islands in the middle of nowhere that don’t have any data, we can make an assessment for what’s going to happen.” The study found that the frequency of formerly once-in-50-year floods could double in some tropical places in the decades ahead. The findings were published Thursday in the Nature journal Scientific Reports. “This is the first paper I’ve seen that tries to combine all these different elements in the context of sea-level rise,” said Richard Smith, a statistics professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who studies environmental change. “They’ve done it in a very systematic and well organized way.” The tropics are home to some of the world’s most vulnerable coastal residents, often living in houses made from flimsy construction materials, under governments that have limited ability to provide food, water, and care when disasters strike. “Many poor developing countries like Bangladesh are going to see greater frequency and magnitude of flood events — even with the best efforts to reduce emissions,” said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh. Residents of these sweltering regions have released little of the greenhouse gas pollution that’s warming the Earth’s surface, melting ice and expanding ocean water, and causing seas to rise. Global temperatures have risen nearly 2 degrees F since the 1800s. “These vulnerable countries and communities need to be supported to improve early warning and safe shelters — followed by economic support to recover afterwards,” Huq said. All coastal regions face risks from rising seas, though the nature of the hazards varies. Seas are rising at about an inch per decade globally, at an accelerating rate with several feet or more of sea rise likely this century. Detailed information on water levels in many vulnerable places, however, is sparse. “Understanding of sea-level rise in the tropics is challenging because there’s a lack of long-term data,” said Benjamin Horton, a Rutgers professor who wasn’t involved with the study. “Tide gauges were installed for navigation in ports; big trade was between the industrialized nations of Europe and [the] U.S.” Unlike vulnerable cities and towns along the East Coast of the U.S., where frequent storms and big waves lead to large variations in day-to-day water levels, tropical coastlines tend to be surrounded by waters with depths that vary less. That means many tropical coastlines were not built to withstand the kinds of routine flooding that will be caused by rising seas.

Fenton A.,University of Leeds | Fenton A.,Center for Climate Change Economics and Policy | Gallagher D.,Adaptation Fund Board secretariat | Wright H.,International Center for Climate Change and Development | And 4 more authors.
Climate and Development | Year: 2014

While most adaptation actions occur at the local level, there is an absence of commitment at the international level to channel adaptation finance to local communities. Without such a commitment, there is a risk that climate finance will continue to support top-down, centralized activities that may struggle to address the needs of vulnerable communities. This paper explores ways in which community-based adaptation is presently being mainstreamed through the multilateral funds that are used to channel adaptation finance under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process, and points to two promising examples that demonstrate this. The first is the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environmental Facility, an established modality through which community organizations can access finance to manage their adaptation needs. The second is the direct access modality of the Adaptation Fund, which devolves decision-making power from multilateral agencies towards the national and local levels. At the country level, experiences from Nepal demonstrate an institutional environment that helps to prioritize the adaptation needs of the most vulnerable. Nepal achieves this by mandating that at least 80% of available finance flows to the community level, and that the implementation of projects is conducted in a bottom-up and inclusive process. © 2014, © 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.

Roberts E.,King's College London | Huq S.,International Center for Climate Change and Development
International Journal of Global Warming | Year: 2015

This paper chronicles the history of the rise of loss and damage in negotiations under the United Nations Framework on Climate Change and the role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in bringing about this paradigm shift. Over the past two decades, the global climate change regime has shifted from a focus primarily on mitigation, to both mitigation and adaptation and finally to the current era in which loss and damage has emerged as a key fixture on the agenda with the establishment of the Warsaw international mechanism on loss and damage at the 19th Conference of the Parties in November 2013. This shift can be attributed to the realisation that mitigation and adaptation efforts have been insufficient to avoid the impacts of climate change. © 2015 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.

Roberts E.,King's College London | Andrei S.,International Center for Climate Change and Development
International Journal of Global Warming | Year: 2015

As climate change impacts worsen, losses and damages incurred in both developing and developed countries will continue to increase. While enhancing mitigation and adaptation efforts will influence the level of loss and damage avoided in the future, historical emissions have 'locked in' a certain level of climate change, making some residual losses and damages inevitable. Loss and damage from slow onset processes like sea level rise will ultimately require some communities and, in some cases, entire countries to relocate. Through examples from Kiribati and Alaska this paper will highlight the complexity involved in migrating and relocating and recommend interventions for easing the resettlement process. © 2015 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.

News Article | December 6, 2015
Site: www.reuters.com

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers a speech during the opening session of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. Its little-known team came to Paris with a mission to force rich nations to lead the way in curbing emissions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the summit that "climate justice" meant poor nations needed "room to grow". Such positions may have prompted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to say that India would be a "challenge" to deal with in Paris but, in the corridors of the U.N. climate summit, it is winning the support of other developing nations. These see India - already the number three greenhouse emitter behind China and the United States, and likely to be number two by 2040 - as the main champion of the rights of the global poor to burn more energy to grow. Others, too, concede it is a just cause for India - far poorer than China and with 300 million of its 1.25 billion people lacking access to electricity - and do not see signs of intransigence that could scupper a deal. Jennifer Morgan, of the independent U.S.-based World Resources Institute, said the idea of India as a spoiler was "a storm in a teacup". "In the meeting rooms, India is defending its interests, and proposing solutions," she said. And a source at the French presidency said India was contributing constructively, "not standing on the sidelines and just watching". In Paris, almost 200 governments are seeking an agreement that will bind both rich and poor to limit greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2020 to try to stave off the worst effects of global warming on the Earth's climate. At the last, failed summit in Copenhagen six years ago, India stood with China in demanding more action by the rich. But Beijing, buoyed by strong economic growth since 2009, now works more closely with the United States, leaving New Delhi as the standard-bearer. India is in some ways a more fitting champion for the poor. Its carbon emissions were just 1.7 tonnes per capita in 2011, according to World Bank data, level with countries such as Belize or Armenia, far below China's 6.7 tonnes and just a 10th of those of the United States. "It's fair for India to try to protect the hundreds of millions of poor people in India," said Pa Ousman Jarju, Environment and Climate Minister of Gambia. Still, India is opening a coal mine a month and is set to double output by 2020, putting it at the forefront of a pan-Asian dash to burn more of the most polluting fossil fuel, which also happens to its most affordable and abundant. This means that, although it is promoting solar power and other renewables, India's overall emissions will soar. Ajay Mathur, Director General of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and a senior member of the Indian delegation in Paris, said India's greenhouse gas emissions may grow until 2050, unless new technologies are developed. "Projections ... that go out until 2050 are still showing an increase," he said. While China has pledged that its emissions will peak no later than 2030, India's national plan promises only to slow the rise relative to its economic growth by then. India's carbon dioxide emissions grew by almost 8 percent last year, according to the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, making it the biggest contributor to global emissions growth of 0.5 percent. By 2040, they could roughly double, according to projections by U.S. scientists at Climate Interactive, overtaking the United States. But India's tough position is popular at home. When Kerry made his comment to the Financial Times last month, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar angrily shot back that he was "not doing justice to India". "Sometimes the India team does get preoccupied by having to fend off all these attacks. But they will not buckle under finger pointing from a small group of Western countries," Shyam Saran, India's chief negotiator at the 2009 Copenhagen talks, told Reuters. This time round, Ravi Shankar Prasad, a low-profile mid-level official in the environment ministry, has led the negotiating team but, unlike some of his counterparts, he has avoided the limelight. "No one man is in charge. It’s a negotiating team," said Shyam Saran, India's negotiator at the Copenhagen talks. "Sometimes the India team does get preoccupied by having to fend off all these attacks, but they will not buckle under finger pointing from a small group of Western countries." Some delegates say India picked a fight in Paris by dismissing a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that suggested rich nations were on track to deliver a promised $100 billion a year in finance by 2020. India said the numbers were riddled with double counting, and that it could only clearly identify a mere $2.2 billion. But many developing nations are backing India's stance. "They are doing it for all of us," said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh. India can also argue that it is doing its bit to promote renewable energy. Prime Minister Modi and French President Francois Hollande on Monday unveiled an alliance of over 100 nations that seeks to mobilize more than a trillion dollars by 2030 to harness the abundant solar power in the tropics.

Khanom T.,International Center for Climate Change and Development
Ocean and Coastal Management | Year: 2016

The Southwest (SW) region of Bangladesh is facing salinity intrusion both environmentally and anthropogenically. In that circumstance, the dominating livelihood agriculture is affected severely including soil and ground water degradation, health problems and long term effect on ecosystem. Study from the Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI) found that, from 2000 to 2009, saline water intrusion increased up to 15 km north of the coast and in the dry season reached up to 160 km inland, entering into other interior coastal districts as well due to low flow from upstream rivers. In line with that, this article explored local people's experience with salinity intrusion in interior coast of SW region. Along with semi-structured & open ended questionnaire five focus group discussions and eight interviews were conducted to outlines the relationship between food security and salinity intrusion in regards of crop production and examines the impact of salinity on the crop production. The analysis found salinity in both soil and water is favorable for rice cultivation, although yield loss in every year has increased. Community shifted from native to high yield rice varieties to increase production and cope with soil salinity, in turn, the activity increase fertilizer and pesticides usage. Additionally, oilseed, sugarcane and jute cultivation has discontinued for twelve years due to inability to cope with current salinity level. Some other reasons put forward for saline intrusion includes lack of fresh water in the dry season, and saline encroachment from sea through downstream rivers. Through identification of salinity in the study area, the study suggests to measure impacts rigorously and imply necessary adaptation even though the saline level is favorable for rice, to protect interior coast from suffering like exterior coastal districts. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd

Rabbani G.,Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies | Rahman S.H.,Jahangirnagar University | Faulkner L.,International Center for Climate Change and Development
Sustainability (Switzerland) | Year: 2013

Most climate related hazards in Bangladesh are linked to water. The climate vulnerable poor-the poorest and most marginalized communities living in remote villages along Bangladesh's coastal zone that are vulnerable to climate change impacts and who possess low adaptive capacity are most affected by lack of access to safe water sources. Many climate vulnerable poor households depend on small isolated wetlands (ponds) for daily drinking water needs and other domestic requirements, including cooking, bathing and washing. Similarly, the livelihoods of many of these households also depend on access to ponds due to activities of small-scale irrigation for rice farming, vegetable farming and home gardening. This is particularly true for those poorest and most marginalized communities living in Satkhira, one of the most vulnerable coastal districts in south-west Bangladesh. These households rely on pond water for vegetable farming and home gardening, especially during winter months. However, these pond water sources are highly vulnerable to climate change induced hazards, including flooding, drought, salinity intrusion, cyclone and storm surges, erratic rainfall patterns and variations in temperature. Cyclone Sidr and Cyclone Aila, which hit Bangladesh in 2007 and 2009 respectively, led to a significant number of such ponds being inundated with saline water. This impacted upon and resulted in wide scale implications for climate vulnerable poor households, including reduced availability of safe drinking water, and safe water for health and hygiene practices and livelihood activities. Those households living in remote areas and who are most affected by these climate impacts are dependent on water being supplied through aid, as well as travelling long distances to collect safe water for drinking purposes. © 2013 by the authors.

Stott C.,University College London | Huq S.,International Center for Climate Change and Development | Huq S.,International Institute for Environment and Development
Climate and Development | Year: 2014

Effective mainstreaming of climate change adaptation (CCA) into related policy and development initiatives relies on comprehensive knowledge sharing between multiple stakeholders. In Bangladesh, community-based adaptation (CBA) practitioners are critical for facilitating communication among global, national and local scales. They can also take responsibility for finding appropriate channels through which to share relevant information. Interviews with CBA practitioners examine how knowledge is gained and transmitted between practitioners and other CCA stakeholders, focusing on the challenges experienced. These challenges represent friction in knowledge transmittal. Key to lubricating smooth knowledge flows is an understanding of the specific contexts within which knowledge is to be exchanged. At the professional level, multidisciplinary knowledge must be made accessible through provision of widely comprehensible content shared in an appropriate format. At the local level, understandings of trust, priorities and power relations are vital for ensuring relevance in the knowledge shared by professional stakeholders. Mobilizing appropriate knowledge can allow widespread comprehension of adaptation aims, enabling the mainstreaming of CCA and ensuring that resulting action is beneficial at the local level, for communities that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. © 2014, © 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.

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