Nov 10, 2021 News
…as World Bank highlights urgency of Climate Change mitigation
Kaieteur News – In wake of the escalating drastic impacts of climate change, including ocean and sea level rises, Guyana has been identified as one of three Caribbean Countries that needs to urgently—in the absence of appropriate funding and asset management systems for adequately maintaining coastal protection infrastructure—consider alternative strategies, including natural barriers and managed relocation.”
The recommendations were embedded in the most recent World Bank report “360° Resilience: A Guide to Prepare the Caribbean for a New Generation of Shocks.”
In that document, it was noted that a high-level assessment of coastal protection infrastructure investment found, that countries like Dominica, Guyana, and Suriname would have significant investment needs for coastal protection, driven by maintenance costs, as much as new investments.
The report did caution that in the absence of appropriate funding and asset management systems for adequately maintaining coastal protection infrastructure, governments should consider alternative strategies, including natural barriers and managed relocation.
It was noted, however, that this should be done “making relocation a strategic option that leaves people, communities, and the environment better off and poses significant challenges for coordinating scientific inputs and government support.”
According to the World Bank report, research is needed to identify vulnerable population groups and how to build communities’ capacity to successfully navigate relocation.
“Incorporating local needs, knowledge, and preferences into planning processes is also crucial.”
It was noted too that given the highly uncertain tradeoffs and consequences of managed relocation options, governments can work with scientists to explore what actions, policies, and support make people better off across many plausible futures.
According to the report, climate change will in future damage the coastal infrastructure and sandy beaches and sea level rise is expected to increase coastal flooding and accelerate coastline erosion. The report pointed to a new analysis carried out for the World Bank Report across all Caribbean countries, which found that a 35-meter shoreline retreat of sandy beaches is projected under a high climate change scenario by 2050 and increasing to 98 meters by 2100.
The largest average projected shoreline retreats by 2050 under high climate change impacts are in Suriname (71 meters), Guyana (65 meters), Trinidad and Tobago (53 meters), and Belize (46 meters).
The World Bank report released yesterday comes on the heels of a similarly worrying report done by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which noted that Georgetown—Guyana’s Capital City—and eight other cities worldwide are forecast to be underwater by 2030, due to the rising sea level stemming from climate change.
It was reported that the area projected to be underwater by 2030 is where 90 percent of Guyana’s population resides.
For centuries Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, has relied on sea walls – or, more accurately, one gigantic, 280-mile long sea wall, for protection.
The sea wall function as Georgetown’s main defence because most of the coastline is between 0.5 and one metre below high tide levels. With more than half of the country’s population in danger, it was stated that the country will need to bolster its sea wall substantially if Georgetown’s central areas are to avoid massive damage.
The Climate Central map was created based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2021 report.
Climate Central is an independent group of scientists and communicators, who research and report the facts about climate change and how it affects people’s lives, and the IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.
Recently, this publication reported that Guyana is particularly vulnerable to rising sea level as a result of climate change, plus regional shifts in the height of the sea. This was highlighted in the 2020 World Health Organization (WHO) report on climate change.
According to the report, Guyana’s initial national communication to the UNFCCC states that the sea level, along the Atlantic Coast, is projected to rise by about 40 centimetres by the end of the twenty-first century. This means the sea is rising at a rate of two – four millimetres each year, counting the entire century.
The report explained that “From 1951 to 1979, sea level off Guyana’s coast rose at a rate of some five times the global average (0.4 inch, or 10.2 millimetres per year)— and around six times the twentieth century average or three times the 1993 to 2009 annual average.”
Additionally, this is not the first time that Guyana’s vulnerability to sea level rise has been documented.
Last year, a mini-documentary on the natural phenomenon of erosion and climate change produced by REEL Guyana and its founder, Alex Arjoon, spoke to the vulnerability of Guyana’s low-lying coastal regions.
Not forgetting that severe flooding earlier this year had led to many sectors in Guyana being affected along with the livelihood of citizens. In June 2021, President Ali had declared the flooding situation in the country a National Disaster.
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