Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Steiner: Socio-economic sectors at risk

Apart from its direct impacts, Climate Change will have a compounding effect on several socio-economic sectors in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Addressing the 2014 World Environment Day press conference held in Barbados last week Thursday, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, said that climate change presents one of the most significant challenges to the tourism sector, disrupting economies and livelihoods.

Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the
Executive Director of the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, addressing the
2014 World Environment Day press conference.
“Tourism is the largest source of foreign exchange for over half of SIDS. Tourism receipts represent more than 30 per cent of their total exports; in comparison, the average for the world is just over five per cent, according to the World Bank estimates.”

“A 30-centimetre rise in sea-level would result in Grenada losing 60 per cent of its beaches; and coral bleaching – a process that has already begun – will further reduce the attraction for tourists,” he highlighted.

As it relates to the financial cost of adaptation to climate change, Steiner said that under the business-as-usual models, the capital cost of sea-level rise in the Caribbean Community Countries alone is estimated at US$187 billion by 2080.

The UNEP Executive Director also made a call for SIDS to review their energy sectors, which, while contributing little to global warming, are extremely fragile and remain dependent on fossil fuels.

He said that energy prices in the vast majority of SIDS are among the highest globally, also revealing that in some cases electricity costs are 500 per cent more than in the United States, primarily as a result of their dependence on imported fuel.

“Improving the SIDS power sector requires that fossil fuel dependence be halved by 2035 and a switch to a mix of renewable energy sources – ocean, geothermal, solar, wind and bio fuels, be achieved,” he indicated.

“Caribbean Community Countries estimate the shift could cost tens of billions of dollars. Despite international support for the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy, there is no mechanism in place to help SIDS transform their energy sector.”

“There is something that must change in order to meet sustainable energy objectives,” he stressed. (TL)

No comments:

Post a Comment