Empowering our Youth for a Sustainable SocietyClimate Change in the Caribbean - what can we do? Charmaine Gomes Ph.D. United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean Port – of – Spain, Trinidad and Tobago 4 August 2012
Structure of the Presentation• Paleoclimatology and climate forecasting;• The IPCC;• The Stern Review• Changes in Climate and Impacts on Key sectors• The response – what can we do?
What is Paleoclimatology?• This is the study of ancient climates from: – Tree rings; – Glacial ice cores;
Glaciers retreat & SL risesLast majoradvance of So far in the past 18,000 years, the earths temperature has risenglacial ice approximately 16 ° F and the sea level has risen 300 feet.Compiled by R.S. Bradley and J.A. Eddy based on J.T. Houghton et al., Climate Change: The IPCC Assessment, CambridgeUniversity Press, Cambridge, 1990 and published in EarthQuest, vo. 1, 1991. Courtesy of Thomas Crowley.
A schematic reconstruction (solid line) of mean global surface temperature through the last 100 million years,based on analyses of various marine and terrestrial deposits. The dashed-line extension is a prediction of futuretrends through the coming 400 years, based on the assumption of substantial utilization of the fossil fuelreservoir. The vertical line shows the approximate range of surface temperature in climate model predictions for adoubling of CO2 levels, at about 100 years in the future. Modified from T. J. Crowley, Journal of Climate, vol 3,pp 1282-1292, 1990.
IPCC - Main Findings• Global conc. of CO2, CH4 and N2O have increased since 1750 – human activity;• CO2 increases are due to fossil fuels use and land use change;• CH4 and N2O increases – primarily due to agriculture;• Increase in CO2 from 280 ppm to 379 ppm in 2005. Now it has reached 395.77
Main findings….• Warming of the climate is unequivocal;• Increases in global average air and ocean temperatures;• Widespread melting of snow and ice;• Rising of global average sea level; 1.8 mm/year between 1961 and 2003;• Rate of SLR was faster between 1993 and 2003;• Changes in arctic ice and temperatures.
Main Findings….• Widespread changes in precipitation;• Change in ocean salinity;• Changes in wind patterns;• Increase in extreme weather events, including droughts, heat waves;• Changes in sea surface temperatures;• Changes in tropical hurricane activity in the north Atlantic since about 1970 correlate with increases in sea surface temperature
IPCC Projections• For the next 2 decades, a warming of about 0.20 C per decade is projected;• Even if concentrations of GHG and aerosols are kept constant at 2000 levels a further warming of about 0.10C is expected;• This would cause additional warming;
Direct Regional Evidence• Temperature trend 0.8 0.6 BARBADOS BARBADOS 1.5 1.0 TRINIDAD TRINIDAD – Temperature records have 0.4 0.5 shown an increase in the last 0.2 0.0 0.0 century, with the 1990s 1960 1963 1966 1969 1972 1975 1978 1981 1984 1987 1990 1993 1996 1999 1970 1973 1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 2003 -0.2 -0.5 being the warmest decade -0.4 -0.6 -1.0 since the beginning of the -0.8 -1.5 20th century. 1.0 Saint Lucia SAINT LUCIA 1.0 0.8 0.5 0.6 0.0 0.4 – 1998 also appears as the 1974 1980 1983 1992 1998 2001 2004 1977 1986 1989 1995 0.2 -0.5 warmest year on record. 0.0 -1.0 1973 1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 -0.2 -1.5 -0.4 -2.0 Dominica DOMINICA -0.6• Rainfall trend -0.8 Period -2.5 Period 1973 to 2000 1973 to 2000 – Records have shown changing patterns. Variations of land surface temperature for the Caribbean – Floods in some areas and drought in other areas
Caribbean Sea Temperature Much Warmer• Warmer sea temperatures support: – Development of stronger hurricanes at lower latitudes – More rapid transition to category 4 and 5 – Increases the likelihood of coral bleachingApril sea temperature near80oF/27oC
Model Projection of Future Increases in the Regional Temperatures
WARMER SEA TEMPERATURES RESULT IN CORAL BLEACHING AND MORTALITY• In 1998 coral reefs around the world suffered the most extensive and severe bleaching and subsequent mortality in modern record.• In the same year, tropical sea surface temperatures were the highest in modern record, topping off a fifty year trend for some tropical oceans.• The repercussions of the 1998 mass bleaching and mortality events will continue to be far reaching in time and space.
Impact of 1oC further rise in sea temperature on the Yellow Tuna Habitat becomes less Yellow tuna favourable +1°C
Impact of 1oC further rise in sea temperature on the Parrot Fish Habitat becomes Green parrot fish less favourable +1°C
Impact of 1oC further rise in sea temperature on the Dolphin fish Dolphin fish Habitat becomes less favourable +1°C
The Stern Review - Conclusions• If we don’t act, the overall costs and risks of CC will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP per year;• If a wide range of risks and impacts is taken into account, the estimates of damage could rise to 20% of GDP or more;• Our actions now and over the coming decades could create risks of a disruption to economic and social activity, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the 1st half of the 20th century;• It would be difficult to reverse these changes;• The costs of stabilising the climate are significant but manageable;• Delay would be dangerous and much more costly.
The Response - What can we do?• The costs of action – reducing GHG emissions can amount to about 1% of GDP per year;• The investment that takes place during the next 10 – 20 years would have a profound effect on the climate in the 2nd half of this century and the next;• Response must be international;• Must be based on a shared vision of long-term goals and agreement on frameworks that will accelerate action over the next decade;• It must build on mutually reinforcing approaches at national, regional and international levels.
The Response - What can we do?..• Adaptation should be accelerated;• Adaptation will cost tens of billions of dollars per year and will put pressure on already scarce resources but what of the costs of inaction?• Need better information, improved planning and more climate-resilient crops and infrastructure;• Central estimates of annual costs of achieving stabilisation between 500 and 550 ppm CO2 e are around 1% GDP; if we start to take strong action now;• It would be difficult and costly to aim to stabilise at 450 ppm.
Final Conclusions• The evidence leads to a simple conclusion:“the benefits of strong, early action considerably outweighs the costs”• Other conclusions;• Ignoring climate change will eventually damage economic growth.• Measures to help people to adapt are essential.• The less mitigation we do now, the greater the difficulty of continuing to adapt in the future.
Final Recommendation• There is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, if we take strong action now