In a world where climate change is assessed as an imminent threat to many, and particularly small-island developing states (SIDS), the Caribbean is increasing its research efforts on the subject, with a focus on the impacts of a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in global warming for the region.
One of its most recent initiatives was led by the University of the West Indies (UWI) Climate Studies Group, Mona, with financial support to the tune of US$50,000 from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
“If we are advocating for 1.5 degrees Celsius (as a cap for the increase in global temperatures), then we need some data for the Caribbean,” said Professor Michael Taylor, who heads the UWI group.
“And the CDB did step up to the plate to facilitate,” he said.
Among the areas covered by the research effort, which got under way last summer, were agriculture, energy, flood risk, and hurricane damage.
The effort kicked off with a meeting of some 30 scientists from the region who gathered in Jamaica to scope out the work to be tackled.
“Data was provided by Caribbean scientists and various people wrote. We are at the point now where papers have been submitted and are being reviewed,” Taylor said.
“There were at least five papers produced. One is almost at final acceptance. Two are undergoing corrections. Two are still under review,” he added.
The intention is to have these papers published in various journals, at least one of them with an upcoming edition that is to spotlight ‘1.5 and SIDS’.
Cheryl Dixon, coordinator for the Environmental Sustainability Unit at the CDB, said there was no question of the value of the effort.
“Collectively, SIDS, including those in the Caribbean, contribute minimally to global emissions, but they are the ones most likely to bear the brunt of the adverse impacts. Under current levels of warming, people living in the Caribbean are already experiencing changes in their climate, such as changing frequency and intensity of extreme events, shifts in rainfall patterns, longer periods of drought, and rising sea-levels,” she told The Gleaner.
“CDB is committed to improving its borrowing member countries’ (BMCs’) capacity to accurately monitor, model, predict, and build in adaptation measures to the impacts of climate change as a regional priority,” Dixon added.
At the same time, she revealed that the bank had also developed “a strategic partnership” with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) that had already borne fruit.
“The 5Cs has, with the support of other regional, technical institutions … completed the downscaling of regional climate models to 25 kilometres resolution levels. In addition, the 5Cs, with the support of CDB, has established a climate change information clearinghouse, which now provides the largest repository of climate data and information on the Caribbean,” Dixon said.
“Together, these regional institutions are providing a regional public good in the form of sound datasets and information necessary to support informed decision-making to underpin policy and related climate action plan investments,” she added.
The CDB representative said the region could expect more of this kind of support and collaboration.
“The initiative is consistent with CDB’s climate change strategy 2012-2017, which is used to guide the bank’s climate change interventions. One of the priority areas of the strategy is knowledge building and capacity development for climate resilience at the regional and national levels,” she said.
Under this component, CDB is, among other things, to support the efforts of BMCs to design and mainstream climate risk management strategies in regional, national and sectoral policies, and facilitate the design of appropriate legal, administrative and governance arrangements for “the effective and successful adoption of climate resilient programmes”.