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Human-forced climate change & the South Pacific
South Pacific Study Group
Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University
23 May, Nathan Campus, N72 Room 1-18
Professor Brendan Mackey, PhD
Director, Griffith Climate Change Response Program
Griffith University
email: [email protected]
1. What is the “climate change problem”?
 Mitigation
 Adaptation
The challenges for SP
Existing problems get worse
Problems emerge from interactions
New problems
3. The way forward
 Priorities
 Funding opportunities & risks
 Integration & mainstreaming
 National a& regional responses
what is the climate change problem?
human forced, rapid climate change is an empirical
scientific fact
Two necessary responses:
1. Mitigation – reducing GHG emissions to a safe level
2. Adaptation – adapting to impacts of unavoidable climate change
What will “business as usual deliver?
+12°C by
2200 ?!
+5°C by
(Source: Meinhausen, pers. comm.)
What will “business as usual deliver?
+12°C by
2200 ?!
+5°C by
(Source: Meinhausen, pers. comm.)
increasing international recognition of climate
change as a security issue
Make no mistake… climate change not only exacerbates threats
to peace and security, it is a threat to international peace and
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
Climate change has very real implications for international peace and security
Susan Rice (US Ambassador to UN)
Most national security establishments considered global warming as among the
biggest security challenges of the century
Peter Wittig (Permanent Representative of Germany to UN)
Source: Security Council 6587th Meeting, 2011
climate change impacts will be increasingly felt in
coming decades
 Rising sea levels - storms surges, king tides, coastal inundation,
ground water intrusion
 Increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events – more
droughts & floods
 Increasing land and sea temperatures
 Ocean acidification
 Ice melt on land
 Shifting ocean currents
the challenge for the South Pacific
South Pacific
 South Pacific region: 22 Island Countries &Territories-200 high
islands, 2,500 low islands & atolls
 Pop. 2010: 9.9 million (15 million by 2035) 60% rural/40% urban
 Ocean-rich
summary of regional climate change
 Temperatures will continue to
 More very hot days
 Sea level will continue to
 Changing rainfall patterns
 Ocean acidification will
 Less frequent but more
intense tropical cyclones
 Ocean currents?
Source: Climate Change in the Pacific:
Scientific Assessment and New Research.
Volume 1: Regional Overview. Volume 2:
Country Reports. Available from
November 2011.
The average positions of the major climate features in November to April.
The arrows show near surface winds, the blue shading represents the
bands of rainfall convergence zones, the dashed oval shows the West
Pacific Warm Pool and H represents typical positions of moving high
pressure systems.
Climate change related changes to environmental variables in Milne Bay
Source: Skewes et al. (2011) Melanesian coastal and marine ecosystem assets:
assessment framework and Milne Bay case study. CSIRO.
increase in local extremes not just means
Generally, increasing intensity & frequency of extreme events; floods, droughts, fires, cyclones
(not earthquakes)
no one lives in a place called “Average”
The question is how will the climate change where you live and work?
local affects of climate change are contingent
exposure is a critical factor
adaptive capacity varies within/between countries
adaptation is “local” but regional responses are also
1. Trans-border problems
2. Problems held in common between Melanesian countries
3. Shared (region-wide) capacity-building needs
migration, displacement & refugees
Source: Foresight: Migration and Global Environmental Change (2011)
Final Project Report. The Government Office for Science, London
A number of dimensions of climate change have the
potential – along with non-climatic environmental
changes – to influence the drivers of migration
 Internal and trans-boundary migration
 Poses logistical challenges & geo-political challenges
 Trapped populations
 Cities are extremely vulnerable to future environmental change
 Long term interactions critical
climate change impacts on fisheries
Source: Vulnerability of Tropical Pacific Fisheries and Aquaculture to
Climate Change, published by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community
Changes in the distribution and abundance of tuna (mixed)
Decline in coastal fisheries and coral reefs (20-50%)
Increases in freshwater fisheries production (mixed)
Increased operating costs
A range of adaptations can substantially reduce the risks and costs, but they need to
be tailored to the circumstances
Planning for change is vital because fish is the single biggest source of animal protein
in the Pacific diet.
Another 115,000 tonnes of fish needed to help provide good nutrition for the
expanding population of the region by 2030 - an increase of 47%
climate change impacts on vector-borne diseases
VBDs such as malaria, dengue, tick-borne diseases
and plague are particularly susceptible for a number
of reasons: the geographical distribution and
behaviour of vectors and their hosts are intimately
associated with environmental determinants, and
transmission dynamics tend to favour warmer,
wetter environments.
Historically experienced relatively few
malaria outbreaks and the population has limited
immunity to the disease and less awareness of its
prevention than lowland populations.
Countries or areas at risk of dengue,
2011. The disease is currently
distributed only in areas in which the
temperature remains >10°C year-round.)
In recent years, cases of malaria reported at
increasingly higher altitudes - the effects of climate
change such as increased ambient temperature,
rainfall affecting the availability of breeding sites and
vector ecology and indirect effects on human
behaviour, may be contributory factors
Source: Final project report: Strengthen control of vector borne diseases to
lessen the impact of climate change in the Western Pacific Region with focus on
Cambodia, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea. World Health Organization
Western Pacific Region 2012;
climate change adaptation
adaptation consists of actions undertaken to reduce the adverse
consequences of climate change, as well as to harness any beneficial
opportunities. Adaptation actions aim to reduce the impacts of climate
stresses on human and natural systems.
special role for ecosystem-based adaptation
“Approaches that involve the services that biodiversity
and ecosystems provide as part of an overall adaptation
strategy to help people adapt to the adverse effects of
climate change are known as ecosystem-based
approaches to adaptation. The underlying principle
is that healthy ecosystems can play a vital role in
maintaining and increasing resilience to
climate change and in reducing climate-related risk and
vulnerability.” (Source: UNFCCC SSBSTA Report
 Sustainably managing, conserving and restoring ecosystems so that they continue to provide
the services that allow people to adapt to climate change
 This approach builds on traditional knowledge
 Generates a range of social, economic and cultural benefits and helps to conserve
 Co-benefits for climate change mitigation through improved retention and restoration of
ecosystem carbon stocks
 Community leadership critical
“People from Melanesia heavily rely on their land for their livelihoods. They depend on their
environment for food and income from cash crops, for clean water, fertile soil, forests for
building materials, medicine and for hunting. Compared to other countries, most Melanesians
have very small ‘carbon footprints’ having contributed very little to global warming and climate
change. Unfortunately they will be among those most vulnerable to the impacts of
climate change due to their high dependency on their immediate environment and close
proximity to the coast.” Live & Learn Environmental Education
Crops-grown on land accessed
through customary land tenure
arrangement or leased from
traditional land owners
Source: Sharma K.L. (2006) Food Security in the South Pacific Island Countries with Special Reference to the
Fiji Islands. Research Paper No. 2006/68, UNU.
GDP per
capita ($)
% GDP in
% workforce in
The Solomon Islands
New Caladonia
Source: The World Fact Book, CIA
ecosystem-based adaptation methodology
Source: Skewes et al. (2011) Melanesian coastal and marine ecosystem assets:
assessment framework and Milne Bay case study. CSIRO.
examples of ecosystem-based adaptation measures
that provide co-benefits
Social and cultural
Adaptation measure
against storm
surges, sealevel rise and
Provision of
options (fisheries
and prawn
e of nutrient
and water
Opportunities for
of land
 Protection of
Indigenous peoples
and local
conservation and
sustainable forest
Contribution to food
 Recreation
 Culture
Generation of
income to local
through marketing
of mangrove
products (fish,
dyes, medicines)
of species that
live or breed
in mangroves
Conservation of
carbon stocks, both
above and belowground
generation of
income through:
of habitat for
forest plant and
animal species
Conservation of
carbon stocks
 Ecotourism,
Reduction of
emissions from
 Non-wood
Source: Convention on Biological Diversity. Connecting Biodiversity and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: Report
of the Second Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Biodiversity and Climate Change. Technical Series No. 41. Montreal:
Convention on Biological Diversity
calculation of costs for each option implemented
throughout Lami Town, Fiji (at a 3% discount rate)
Source: Rao N.S., Carruthers T.J.B., Anderson P., Sivo L., Saxby T., Durbin, T., Jungblut V., Hills T., Chape S.
2013. An economic analysis of ecosystem-based adaptation and engineering options for climate change
adaptation in Lami Town, Republic of the Fiji Islands. A technical report by the Secretariat of the Pacifi c
Regional Environment Programme. – Apia, Samoa : SPREP 2013
the way forward…
no shortage of climate change adaptation activity in
the region
 Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change (PIFACC)
 Hundreds of “on-ground”, community-based climate change
projects under way in the South Pacific, but, what will be their
 What will happen to the data and information they produce? Will
it be “discoverable” and “re-usable” by practitioners and decision
 Will national and regional priorities be addressed? Will
knowledge gaps be filled? How will wasteful duplication be
 Will these on-ground projects run by partners be guided by and
consistent with national and regional policies?
 Will they be integrated into strategic planning and governmental
no shortage of climate change funds for the region
Green Climate Fund
$100 billion per
year by 2020 for
mitigation and
adaptation in
$600 billion to 1.5 trillion (2012)
Estimated annual cost to help
developing countries transition to
low-carbon and climate-resilient
Australia invested $150 million from
2008–09 to meet high priority climate
adaptation needs in vulnerable
countries. This assistance will be
scaled up by $178.2 million over two
years to 2012–13—a total of $328.2
regional priorities
1. Accessing Climate change adaptation finance
 Mitigation a funding opportunity e.g. diesel generators, REDD
2. Harmonisation & prioritization of regional climate change
mitigation & adaptation projects & programs
 National priorities (e.g. PNG VBD)
 Shared problems (coastal zone management, tourism, water security)
 Trans-border issues (migration/displacement, fisheries)
3. Capacity building of early career practitioners & researchers in
country line-departments and regional bodies
4. Mainstreaming climate change responses into sustainable
development, green economy & national/community planning
Scenarios  Strategies  Options  Actions
“additionality” or co-benefits?
Is climate change adaptation…
a Furphy?
just “the latest fashion”?
a case of the “invisible
or more like the “Emperor's new clothes”?