Saturday, March 14, 2009

Europeans concerned over sea-level rise

Published by Kate Henderson TCPA for TCPA on 24dash.com

Friday 13th March 2009 - 3:10pm

Scientists at a climate change summit held in Copenhagen this week presented new research which estimated that sea level could rise more than a metre by 2100. The implications of this could be severe and the TCPA is calling on local and regional government across Europe to develop comprehensive climate change adaptation strategies to help protect vulnerable coastal communities.

Through the TCPA-led project Green and Blue Space Adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco Towns (GRaBS) the 14 project partners representing eight member states will raise awareness and increase the expertise of how green and blue infrastructure can help new and existing mixed use urban development adapt to projected climate scenarios such as considerable sea level rise.

GRaBS Project Manager Diane Smith said:
“The implications of sea level rise will have significant implications for a number of the GRaBS partners, including the low-lying Amsterdam City District of Geuzenveld-Slotermeer, and coastal partners Southampton City Council and the City of Malmo in Sweden. We will be working closely with our partner in Lithuania, the Klaipeda University Coastal Research and Planning Institute, to assess the risk and vulnerabilities of sea level rise across Europe and develop adaptation action plans.”

In April the TCPA is running a study visit the cities of Malmo and Stockholm in Sweden via Copenhagen in Denmark, to provide the opportunity to meet the planners, officers, politicians and residents who are working together to tackle a variety of environmental and social issues; many of those similar to the ones facing communities here in the UK.

Diane Smith added:
“By sharing best practice and advancing the knowledge and expertise of partner staff across Europe we aim to help regional and local municipalities, decision makers, politicians and communities, to make a more informed and strategic response to climate change adaptation.”

“The TCPA study tour will look at why Sweden is leading the way in sustainable development and how we can learn from, and build upon, their experiences to ensure equally successful models of sustainability in the UK.”

The study tour will focus on best practice examples of sustainable development across a range of aspects including housing, transport, green space, renewable energy and waste water usage. For further information visit: http://www.tcpa.org.uk/events.asp

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The presidents of two island nations draft escape plans, anticipating sea level rise

By Cristine Russell

February 28th, 2009; Vol.175 #5 (p. 24)

Summarised by Veronique Carola, Sea Level Rise Foundation

Special and Vulnerable

The island nations of Maldives and Kiribati highlight a hidden challenge for coping with climate change. It is now about figuring out what to do for localities threatened with the possibility of extinction from rising ocean waters. As says Harvard University biological oceanographer James J. McCarthy, “They didn’t cause the problem, but they will be among the first to feel it.”

These two exotic equatorial paradises may soon be the lowest spots on Earth and consequently are in danger of becoming the first drowning victims of global warming and sea level rise. In island and coastal countries, the impact may become so drastic that adaptation is not really an option, eventually forcing people out of their homes.

Since taking office in November, President of Maldives, Mr Mohamed Nasheed has been drawing international attention with his proposal to set aside funds to purchase lands abroad and relocate his population within this century.

For Kiribati, President Anote Tong has travelled the globe speaking to the UN and other international gatherings on how his country will suffer with climate change. He is not optimistic on getting land elsewhere but he is asking for help from various countries such as New Zealand and Australia.

Climate Change Vulnerability Mapping for Southeast Asia

By Veronique Carola

A new report released by the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA) in collaboration with a few other key international agencies, has published the result of a study which aimed at identifying areas most prone to climate change impacts in the South-eastern region of Asia.

This report provides information on the sub-national areas (i.e.: regions, districts, provinces) most vulnerable to climate change by overlaying climate hazard maps, sensitivity maps and adaptive capacity maps to identify areas most intense to least intense in each factor .This follows the vulnerability assessment framework of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Countries involved in this study were Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

This study stemmed from the realisation that most developing countries in Asia have the least capacity to adapt to climate change and are therefore in need of whatever external support they can receive to build capacity and enhance action on adaptation to climate change. Priority areas in these afore-mentioned countries were identified by participants of the EEPSEA Climate Change Adaptation Conference in Bali and also through points communicated in the Climate Change Experts Consultation Meeting held in Bangkok in 2008.

Amongst other findings, it was found that the most vulnerable regions in Southeast Asia include the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and Bangkok due to their exposure to sea level rise, as well as the northern part of the Philippines due to its exposure to tropical cyclones.

The results of this analysis are expected to benefit policy-makers and donors in better targeting financial resources towards adaptation.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Water plan helps sinking Kiribati stay afloat

From: The West

2nd March 2009, 13:15 WST

A group of Australian scientists is helping to save a tiny central Pacific island nation from a dangerous byproduct of rising sea levels.   

Kiribati is slowly being swamped by salt water, shrinking the land mass and threatening the islanders' precious supply of fresh water stored in underground reservoirs.   

A team of experts from the Australian National University in Canberra has devised a plan to help the small nation of 100,000 secure its water supply against seawater and other contamination.   

“They're living in a precarious situation in terms of their water resources,” said project leader and environmental expert Professor Ian White.   

“They don't know how much they've got, and what they do have is in danger of mixing with salt water as the sea level intrudes and making people very sick.   

“In that sense, it was vital to come up with a plan to help protect it and therefore the population who rely on it.”   

Kiribati is made up of 33 atolls, almost all of which sit just six metres or less above sea level.   

The nation, which has strong ties to Australia and uses the Australian dollar, is considered one of the most vulnerable to climate change in the world, along with Tuvalu and the Maldives.   

It was one of the first countries selected by the Global Environment Facility to trial new strategies to adapt to climate change, but a recent survey showed water supply was the biggest and most pressing concern.   

Prof White said investigations revealed the underground water supply was in danger of being tainted with salt water or becoming polluted as reservoir areas became more built up.  

This was particularly true in urban areas with a density of 12,000 people per square kilometre, significantly more than in Sydney's Kings Cross.   

“They have very limited land areas and they're all living over the fresh water reserves and because these atolls are very porous, things get in the water very quickly,” Prof White said.   

“As a result, the health issues they face are among the worst in the world in terms of infant mortality to water-borne diseases.”   

The new water policy, developed in partnership with Fiji and France, aims to conserve water through sustainable use and efficient management.   

Climate change experts have warned that countries like Kiribati have just 50 to 100 years before they lose large areas of land to the sea and salt water renders other land useless for living and farming.   

AAP