Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pacific islands meet over climate change plan

From; Space Daily

MAJURO, Oct 16 (AFP) Oct 16, 2009
Officials from Pacific island countries expected to be among the earliest victims of climate change will meet next week to devise a negotiating strategy for a crucial Copenhagen conference.

The officials will meet in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, a nation where islands average less than one metre (three feet) above sea level and are among the most vulnerable in the world to rising sea levels caused by global warming.

More than a dozen Pacific Island countries will be plotting their strategy for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December in Copenhagen, which will attempt to hammer out an international deal to combat warming.

Espen Ronneberg, the climate change advisor to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), said Thursday that Pacific countries would be gathering new information on the impact of global warming in the region to devise a negotiating strategy.

"We are in need of strong binding commitments to reduce emissions and to support adaptation to impacts (of climate change)," Ronneberg said of the Copenhagen conference.

"We are going to be among the first casualties of climate change," added Marshall Islands Environmental Protection Authority acting board chairman Ben Chutaro.

Mark Lander, a meteorologist with the University of Guam's Water and Environmental Research Institute, told officials in Majuro this week that the rise of sea levels in Micronesia this decade had been three times the world average.

"Globally, the average is about three millimetres per year increase in sea level, said Lander.

"In Micronesia, we're seeing 10 millimetres per year. This is extreme sea level rise and far exceeds the global average."

This is believed to be partly due to the impact of the La Nina weather pattern in the years since 2000, when the sea in the eastern Pacific cools, changing weather patterns and sea levels.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Cape Town susceptible to effects of sea level rise – new study

From: Engineering News, By: Jade Davenport

16th October 2009

Global climate change predictions suggest that, besides others, sea level rise and an increase in the intensity and frequency of storm events may have a significant impact on coastlines across the globe.

A sea level risk assessment study undertaken by the City of Cape Town and consultants has, indeed, warned that the city, with its 307-km coastline, is “particularly vulnerable” to the effects of climate change.

Speaking at a sea level rise seminar in Cape Town, hosted by Cambridge University, Stock- holm Environmental Institute economist Anton Cartwright elaborates that the key finding of the study undertaken by the City of Cape Town is that the sea level will rise by 15 cm by 2020 and by two-thirds of a metre by the end of the century.

This rise will increase the frequency and inten- sity of storm events around the coastline. The rise will also override existing defences against flooding during storm events.

Owing to this rise in sea level and the increase in storm events, the sea level rise risk assessment has concluded that, within the next 25 years, there is a 85% probability of 60,9 km2, or 2% of the metro area, being covered by sea for a short period.

The accompanying expected loss of real estate value is just under R20-billion.

Areas such as Woodbridge Island and Fish Hoek would be severely affected by a rise in sea level and an increase in storm activity.

While it is not possible to negate sea level rise, Gregg Oelofse of the Environmental Resource Management at the City of Cape Town believes that it is possible to mitigate against the risk.

Oelofse elaborates that there are a number of factors that the City of Cape Town can focus on to reduce the risk of coastal storms.

Firstly, it is essential that further coastal or strip development should be stopped in order to protect the natural coastline of the area.

The existing infrastructure along the highly developed coastline of the Cape Peninsula is significantly reducing the coastline’s natural ability to recover after storm events.

“A healthy natural coastline is the best defence against storms and, thus, it should be preserved and maintained,” elaborates Oelofse.

Similarly, he believes that it is necessary to increase investment into the maintenance of the natural coastline.

It is also necessary that a longer-term vision of protecting the city’s coastline should, in most instances, take priority over short-term economic decisions and benefits.

Oelofse elaborates that it is necessary to start putting together a framework that will allow the City of Cape Town to make long-term sustainable choices.

Most significantly, Oelofse states that it is essential that the City of Cape Town builds and retains a coastal managements skills pool, as, currently, the local government employs no coastal engineers.

It is also essential that the discussion on climate change become less polarised, with environmentalists and governments collaborating on issues and actions that will mitigate against the effects of climate change.

The research is currently being incorporated in the City of Cape Town’s planning legislation, and, most importantly, in the defining and upholding of a coastal buffer zone.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Public ‘hearing’ on climate change

Seychelles Nation - 15.10.2009
A public “hearing” on climate change justice – at which people of all ages and from all backgrounds are invited to give their views – will be held on Saturday October 17 at the National Theatre, Mont Fleuri.

It is being hosted by the Small Island Institute for Transformation and Empowerment on behalf of the Seychelles section of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty and Inequality (GCAP).

The forum is also being held to mark International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, on Saturday.

The GCAP, a worldwide movement with coalitions in more than 100 developed and developing countries, is now focusing on the links between climate change and poverty and is seeking the views of people from all sectors of society.

These will be presented to the United Nations climate change summit to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.

The Seychelles GCAP is inviting public officials, politicians, private sector and civil society staff, artists, young and elderly citizens, as well as those with disabilities or vulnerabilities, to take part in the forum, which will run from 9am-12.30pm.

It is hoped this will be the first of two public hearings on Mahe, with another one or two for the communities on Praslin and La Digue.
The state and private sectors, parliamentarians, civil society groupings including faith-based organisations, as well as state and non-state media, are being called on to mobilise as many citizens as possible to take part in these sessions.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Students capture impact of climate change

Seychelles Nation - 14.10.2009
A group of Seychellois students are now taking photographs of climate change-related subjects for display at a public exhibition in Copenhagen this December.

A group of English River secondary students receiving training in use of a camera to capture the impact of climate change

The project – being held under the theme: Portraits of resilience and islands in peril – will give the English River secondary students training in use of a camera to capture the impact of climate change.

A one-week training session started on Monday at the Climate Environment Services in the ex-English River clinic, led by Canadian professional photographer Lawrence Hislop who has run previous courses in the Arctic communities.

He will be training the students in the presence of the Sea Level Rise Foundation’s (SLRF) project officer Veronique Carola.
The aim is to use cameras to bring personal stories and faces from vulnerable regions on to the floor of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change conference to be held in Copenhagen in December.

The activity has been organised by the SLRF and the Ministry of Education in partnership with the GRID-Arendal United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

GRID-Arendal, a collaborating centre of the UNEP, was set up by the government of Norway as a foundation to communicate environmental information to policy-makers and help in their decision-making for change.

Mr Hislop said the project illustrates people and their landscapes and how they are dealing with issues caused by climate change.

He said island nations like Seychelles may be affected by a sea level rise that causes other environmental problems, and the students through their photos will show what is happening here and how the issues are affecting the community.

“The photos will then be displayed at the Copenhagen climate change negotiations, where people involved will be able to see the impacts and how these countries are adapting to the situations,” he said.

Seychelles is the first Small Island Developing State to take part in the project, and Mr Hislop will make his next trip to northern Canada for another such workshop with students.

The students taking part are also members of the Sand Watch club, which was founded early last year with the aim of monitoring the impact of climate change on our coastal ecosystem.

Its activities include beach monitoring and developing resource material to educate people in the community about climate change and its adverse impact on our daily lives.

Photos will be taken in districts such as North East Point, Roche Caïman and Anse Aux Pins and focus on coastal erosion, sea level rise and the shoreline.

Their photos will also appear on the website: accompanied by short stories in which they will give their views on these issues.