© Lars-Erik Håkansson

Below 1.5 – to Stay Alive

“1.5 to Stay Alive” is the rallying call from the Caribbean region for the global community to take action now in the UN during 2018. A film with that message will be submitted to the Talanoa dialogue by AirClim.

The UN is conducting a facilitative dialogue which will evaluate and strengthen climate action during 2018. The dialogue is called Talanoa on the initiative of Fiji, which held the Presidency of the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference. It will culminate at the upcoming COP24 in Katowicze in December and the aim is to review the commitments made in the Paris agreement.

Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific for a dialogue which has the purpose of sharing stories, building empathy and making wise decisions for the collective good. The intention is that countries and non-party stakeholders will be contributing ideas, recommendations and information that can assist the world in taking climate action to the next level in order to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Talanoa process involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling (see editorial).

The UN Climate Change secretariat launched an online platform to support the process. The portal aims to facilitate this important international conversation. Countries will be able to check progress and seek to increase global ambition to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Through the portal, all countries and other stakeholders, including business, investors, cities, regions and civil society, are invited to make submissions into the Talanoa Dialogue around three central questions:

  • Where are we?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • How do we get there?

Online submissions will be collated twice – after 2 April 2018, and 29 October 2018. The first set of submissions will inform a dialogue session in the May inter-sessional in Bonn that aims to answer the three questions and will be summarised in a synthesis report. This report will later feed into the “political phase” of Talanoa taking place at the COP24 in Katowice, Poland in December.

To help answer the first question “Where are we?” AirClim will submit the film “1.5 Stay Alive” to the platform. The film describes the urgent situation for coral reefs in the Caribbean region. In the Caribbean waters just south of the United States of America the world’s second- and third-largest coral reef ecosystems are very seriously threatened by climate change (see map). Millions of tourists visit the region every year and enjoy the sea and its rich biodiversity. But soon climate change could mean the end for the corals, as bleaching events occur more and more often. Science tells us that many corals do not survive at a global temperature increase above 1.5°C and increased ocean acidification.

Sea level rise is already affecting many coastal zones, including the south coast of the United States.

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) is a body of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) with 18 member states from the Caribbean region, is helping to coordinate the work on climate change issues for the Caricom countries. At the beginning of 2018, 5Cs made a statement about the situation caused by climate change in the Caribbean (see box). The statement concludes: “The emerging science message is clear: Urgent global action taken now, and which goes well beyond what has already been committed to, is needed to delay the onset of more adverse Caribbean climate states. This is what is implied in the region’s stance that 1.5°C must be an end-of-century global goal. ‘1.5 to Stay Alive’, the central message anchoring the Caribbean’s position, is more than a just a catchy slogan. It is a rallying call for the global community to take action now, from those most vulnerable to climate change.”

AirClim’s submission of the film is a way to affirm the “1.5 – to Stay Alive” call from the Caribbean countries (see box). It is clear from the experiences of climate change in the Caribbean that the zone of “dangerous climate change” has already been entered. Every ton of greenhouse gases emitted from now on is contributing to further dangerous climate change. The UN Talanoa Dialogue must implement the 1.5°C target from the Paris Agreement by strengthening climate action plans for 2020, 2025 and 2030 right now.

Reinhold Pape

Link to APC report 37 The Greenhouse Effect, Global Warming and Implications for Coral Reefs and Factsheet on Ecological effects of ocean acidification

Link to 5 Cs: http://www.caribbeanclimate.bz/

Link to 1.5 Reader: http://climatenetwork.org/sites/default/files/can_reader_review_2013-201...

Link to UNFCCC: https://cop23.unfccc.int/news/un-opens-talanoa-dialogue-portal-aiming-fo...

The film “1.5-Stay Alive”

AirClim initiated and supported the low-budget film, which was produced in 2013–2014 and released in April 2015 to campaign for a 1.5°C target in the UN. It won first prize at the world’s oldest environmental film festival in Barcelona in late 2016, in the category of short documentaries up to one hour. The 1.5 Stay Alive film is about climate change in the Caribbean region and explains why there is a need to stay below a 1.5°C global temperature increase to avoid dangerous climate change and protect vulnerable people. The film lets experts and musicians from the Caribbean region tell their own story and perform music about the threat of climate change to local people and the environment in the region, including more frequent and violent tropical storms, sea level rise and the death of coral reefs.

One of the key speakers in the film is the meteorologist and international liaison officer Carlos Fuller, from the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) in Belize, who has for the last two years been chair of the scientific and technological body of the UN Climate Convention.

In the film, local people also speak about the loss of their homeland on the US coast of the Mexican Gulf in Louisiana, and about already having to abandon their communities.

Link to AirClim film 1.5 Stay Alive: https://www.youtube.com/embed/vH1SwOLFH_w

Statement by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs)

“Ongoing analysis of the Caribbean’s historical climate data is painting a picture of what an approximate 1°C of global warming since preindustrial times has meant for the region. One degree has contributed to:

  • a warming of both air and ocean surface temperatures in the Caribbean
  • an increase in the number of very hot days and nights
  • longer and more frequent periods of droughts
  • an increase in very heavy rainfall events
  • higher sea levels
  • more intense hurricanes with stronger winds and lots more rain.

Since the region is very sensitive to climate variations, many things are impacted. These include agriculture and food production, population health, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, tourism, fresh water systems, energy systems, livelihoods, worker and student productivity, coastal infrastructure and ultimately the economies of Caribbean countries. With further increasing temperatures the Caribbean will be significantly warmer and drier (especially during times of the year it expects to get rain), face much higher sea levels, and experience more intense hurricanes of the likes of Irma and Maria in 2017.

By providing these comparative pictures, the science is making a strong case that the climate change already experienced is a challenge for the Caribbean, and the change to come may likely prove ‘too much’. It stands to reason then, that a stringent global target that limits further warming to levels marginally higher than already experienced is more than just a logical option. These impacts will be more severe at higher global warming targets (e.g. 2°C), but still very challenging even if warming is limited to 1.5°C. Even though the Caribbean has argued for 1.5°C as the global limit for further warming, the emerging message from science is that it does not represent a ‘safe’ climate for the region. This level may only offer a less risky climate state than occurs at even higher global warming levels.

The emerging science message is clear: Urgent global action taken now, and which goes well beyond what has already been committed to, is needed to delay the onset of more adverse Caribbean climate states. This is what is implied in the region’s stance that 1.5°C must be an end-of century global goal. “1.5 to Stay Alive”, the central message anchoring the Caribbean’s position, is more than a just a catchy slogan. It is a rallying call for the global community to take action now, from those most vulnerable to climate change.

The science being undertaken in the Caribbean is also offering a clearer picture of the region in a world that is 1.5°C warmer. Even if global warming beyond the 1°C already experienced were limited to only a further half a degree, there would still be consequences for the Caribbean region.

The most noticeable differences will be related to mean temperature and temperature extremes. When compared to the climate of the present, the region will be significantly warmer, with many more very hot days in any given year, and longer spells of hot and dry conditions. Although there may also be more instances of moderate to extreme droughts, an increase in the intensity of some rain events may partially offset the lack of rainfall during some times of the year and for some parts of the region. The picture is, however, one of generally harsher climatic conditions in the Caribbean than present when the mean global surface temperature is 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The picture only gets worse when we project what the Caribbean could experience in a world that is 2°C warmer. Just another half degree of global warming will result in almost year-round hot conditions, the transition to a mean drier Caribbean compared to the present, and an increase in the frequency of extreme drought occurrences.

On December 21, 2015 at the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 195 nations agreed to hold ‘the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and [to pursue] efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C’ (the Paris Agreement). The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in alliance with other small island developing states galvanized the world around the idea of a 1.5°C target.”

Map of coral reefs in the Caribbean. Source: World Resource Institute.




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