We have some major issues to mention this week. The environmental implications of last week’s floods in Jamaica are not to be taken lightly. Click on the coloured links to read more…
Jamaica and the Caribbean:
Protected area in Antigua under threat from tourism development: The Government of Antigua & Barbuda is reportedly about to sign off on an agreement with the Chinese firm Yida International Investment Group, which wants to build a hotel, casino, villas and a golf course – on Guiana Island, a protected area of mangrove that is almost one of Antigua’s last fish sanctuaries. In fact, a ground-breaking ceremony has already taken place for the Antigua Special Economic Zone, comprised of “a total of more than 1,600 acreswith five islands, three peninsulas and more than 10 miles of ocean-front and beach-front lands.” (There were also plans to build an assembly plant to manufacture guns – yes, guns! – but this was called off due to negative reactions). Local politicians selling off a Caribbean island’s birthright, again? I am going to write more on this.
On a much happier note, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (Five C’s) met in the Portland Bight Protected Area recently with counterparts from the German Development Bank (KfW) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for discussions on the regional Coastal Protective Climate Change Adaptation (CPCCA) project being implemented in four Caribbean States. The visitors were impressed by the progress made so far. Ingrid Parchment of the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM) stressed the importance of community awareness of climate change issues and wants there to be clear and “visible” results from the project, which ends in September 2018.
Hooray! Negril Recycling Depot Opened: It’s great that the citizens of Negril are getting organised as far as the awful problem of solid waste is concerned. Big ups to Recycling Partners of Jamaica, the Negril Chamber of Commerce and everyone involved in the reopening of the refurbished Negril Recycling Centre at Whitehall, Negril, which opened on April 18.
Jamaica recalculating its emissions reduction targets: Una May Gordon, principal director of the Climate Change Division in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, says Jamaica is now reworking its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the wake of its ratification of the Paris Agreement on March 31. Existing calculations, as reflected in the then Intended NDCs submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will help Jamaica mitigate “the equivalent of 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030 versus a business-as-usual scenario.” This is a reduction of 7.8 per cent of emissions.
New IDB report focuses on climate change threats to coastal cities: A Blue Urban Agenda: Adapting to Climate Change in the Coastal Cities of Caribbean and Pacific Small Island Developing States, a new report from the Inter-American Development Bank, stresses the importance of resilient cities. It notes that 4.2 million people in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean and in the Pacific are living in areas at risk of flooding due to rising sea levels. Housing, urbanisation and planning are all important topics in building resilience and disaster preparedness. On the very same topic, the seventh annual Caribbean Urban Forum in Belize City recently discussed Green Economy, Energy and Space-Pathways to Urban Sustainability.
The “greening” of Antarctica: A new study has shown a steady growth of moss in Antarctica, due to warming temperatures. In fact, the region’s entire ecosystem is steadily shifting, with more plant life (there is normally hardly any) – including marine plankton. The impact of global warming in the Arctic, with rapidly melting ice packs, is far more noticeable; but climate change is affecting the Antarctic (which is colder) in significant ways, too.
May 22 is International Biodiversity Day: Yes, that’s tomorrow. Since this year has been named the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development – how appropriate, in light of recent stories about unsustainable tourism developments in the Caribbean! – this year’s theme for May 22 is Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism. Let’s give this some thought.
Nitrite pollution is bad news for coastal waters: Have you heard of nitrite pollution? Well, scientists at the University of Georgia at Athens have identified this as an increasingly common pollutant as the oceans grow warmer. Nitrite comes from agricultural runoff (fertiliser and the like) – which is an issue in Jamaica, too. This is not the first time that scientists have warned of “dead zones” in the ocean and toxic algal blooms, resulting from this kind of pollution. Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas, and this could result in more emissions, and a “vicious circle” situation.
Talking of cities again, The Atlantic’s CityLab pages are very interesting. The city of Barcelona, Spain, for example is planning a “green corridor” to alleviate city heat (especially in the old district) and reduce noise and air pollution. The plan aims to double the number of trees in the city and increase park space by two thirds, delivering 108 acres of new green space by 2019 and over 400 acres by 2030. Wow.
And last but by no means least, the preparatory meeting for COP23 – the UN Climate Change Conference that will be led by Fiji this year, but held in Bonn, Germany – ended with a pledge by Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama outlining his political vision for the Conference, which will open on November 6. Several round-table meetings by groups of nations will take place before the Conference. You can keep up to date on developments at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Climate Change Newsroom page.