Adaptation Fund Offers Hope for Caribbean Countries Threatened by Climate Change

IN the race against the fallout from climate change, developing countries, such as those of the Caribbean, could soon see themselves ahead, thanks to the Adaptation Fund.

Jeffrey Spooner, who represents the Group of Latin America and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC) on the United Nations Adaptation Fund Board, said such countries may be able to draw down on the Fund as early as April this year.

“I say so based on the fact that the Adaptation Fund Board has asked the World Bank, who is the invited trustee, to change the CERS (certified emissions reductions) into money for concrete adaptation projects and programmes,” said the man who is also the head of Jamaica’s Climate Branch of the Meteorological Service.

Spooner’s statement comes at a time of global economic challenges, when speculation is rife that environment projects could see their funding cut. However, it is also a time when climate change — seen as the single most significant threat to not only people’s livelihoods and property but also to their lives — is most visibly a clear and present danger. Spooner was speaking at a workshop for Jamaican artistes sensitizing them to the effects of climate change on the Caribbean. The workshop was organized by the National Environmental Education Committee (NEEC) and Panos Caribbean as a part of a newly launched national project to raise awareness on climate change in Jamaica. The project is being funded by the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, the Jamaica Meteorological Office and the United Nations Development Programme.

“There is basically one piece of work left… to adopt the modalities for the executing and implementing entities to have direct access to the Adaptation Fund,” explained Spooner, adding that they should finish by March when the Board of the Fund meets in Europe to finalise their discussions.

Already predictions are that countries the likes of Barbuda here in the Caribbean could sink in 60 years, necessitating speedy adaptation to the changing climate.

Still, sea levels continue to rise and certainly in the region, there has been evidence of more severe and frequent hurricanes. At the same time, the world’s temperature continues to rise, as does the associated risk of increased incidents of diseases such as dengue.

Meanwhile, there are certain procedural matters that have to be gone through before developing nations can benefit from the fund, which was operationalised in 2007.

They include informing parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol of the operational policies, guidelines and procedures for application for funding for adaptation projects and programmes once they have been adopted by the board — in tandem with stipulations out of last year’s climate change conference in Poznan, Poland.

At the same time, Clifford Mahlung, Jamaica’s chief climate negotiator stressed that the Funds would go towards specific adaptation projects.

“This funding is not for doing research or so on adaptation it is to fund concrete adaptation plans such as sea walls,” he told participants at a press conference on the outcomes of the Poland discussions held on Monday, February 16.

He also added that projects under US$5000 would have speedier access to funding than those over.

It has been with great effort that developing countries have secured the operationalisation of the Adaptation Fund Board, which is being funded through two per cent of the value of projects undertaken under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.

It all came together at the 2007 Bali meeting when developing countries like Jamaica and others in the region secured a decision to have the fund fall under the authority of the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and not the US-based Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

Meanwhile, CDM projects are designed to help answer the sustainable development needs of developing countries where they are implemented. They are also the source of carbon credits which developed countries may use to help achieve their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets stipulated under the Kyoto agreement.

That agreement, signed in Kyoto, Japan, requires developed country signatories to reduce their collection greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 per cent below 1990 levels. The gases covered include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and sulphur hexafluoride.

Anna Scarlett, Panos Writer

     

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