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National Climate Change Policy for Trinidad and Tobago, 5-2011

National Climate Change Policy for Trinidad and Tobago, 5-2011

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Published by Detlef Loy

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Published by: Detlef Loy on Aug 24, 2012
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11/14/2013

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Government of the Republic of Trinidad and TobagoNATIONALCLIMATE CHANGE POLICYFOR TRINIDAD AND TOBAGOMAY 2011
APPENDIX II
 
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INTRODUCTION1.1 Climate Change as a Global Environmental Problem
 According to data sources compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO),the Earth has warmed on average by 0.74°C over the last hundred years, with 0.4°C of this warming occurring since 1970. The past decade is the warmest on record since thebeginning of instrumental climate records in 1850. Globally the rate of warmingaveraged over the last 50 years is nearly twice that for the last 100 years. TheIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has determined that 90% of thewarming effect can be attributed to human activities since the onset of the industrialrevolution such as burning of fossil fuels for power generation, transport, industrialprocesses and housing. Since 1979 anthropogenic induced global warming and climatechange has been recognized as an environmental problem affecting mankind andrecently acknowledged as perhaps the most pressing environmental issue of the twentyfirst century which can pose significant challenges to sustainable developmentobjectives.The international policy response to global climate change has been through theadoption of two legal instruments: the United Nations Framework Convention onClimate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol. Trinidad and Tobago is a ratifiedsignatory to both these legal instruments. The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is,
 
“ 
the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system and in a timeframe that would allow ecosystems to adapt naturally, will not hamper food production and allow sustainable economic development 
” 
. The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding instrumentthat requires developed country parties to reduce their aggregate greenhouse gasemissions by 5.2% below their 1990 levels by 2012. Developing countries have no suchlegally binding commitment but are mandated pursue development pathways that willachieve the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC to which they are signatories, that is,developmental pathways that will follow a low carbon paradigm as far as is possible.
 
1.1.1 Science and Impacts of Climate Change
While global warming and climate change is not a new phenomenon and has beenoccurring naturally for millions of years, there is now mounting evidence that there is acurrent accelerated rate of warming and climate change as a result of human activity,primarily the increases in concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as aresult of fossil fuel combustion, industrial processes and waste management. Emissionsof greenhouse gases (GHGs), which are attributed to be the cause of global warmingand associated climate change, continue to rise. Most developed countries and rapidlydeveloping nations share the common view that global average temperatures shouldnot rise more than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels before the year 2100. Limitingwarming to 2ºC by 2100 will mean capping the current atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases of 430 parts per million by volume (ppm) at 550 ppm, or reducing
 
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global emissions by 50% compared to 1990 levels by 2050. The cost of action to reduceGHG emissions and stabilize atmospheric concentrations to 500-550 ppm has beenquantified by Sir Nicholas Stern in
The Economics of Climate Change 
(2007) to be inthe order of 1% of gross global GDP. Delayed action on this stabilization can escalatedamage costs to as much as 20% of global GDP taking into account the higher lossesin most developing countries.
Figure 1: The Greenhouse Effect
Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide which act as aheat trap and so warm the Earth over time as shown in Figure 1. The increased heatenergy of the Earth is ultimately dissipated through the climate system so resulting inclimate variability and change. Scientific evidence as reported by the IntergovernmentalPanel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), suggests thaton a global basis, eleven of the twelve years during the period 1995-2006 rank amongthe twelve warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature(since 1850). Additionally, theNational Climate Data Center (NCDC)of the NationalOceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States, list thewarmest years on record is being dominated by years from this millennium; each of the

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