April 26, 2012 - Havanna. As a result of climate change-related extreme weather events like a rise in the sea level and increasingly intense storms alternating with drought, Caribbean island nations are facing the challenge of adopting adaptation measures that could be too costly for their budgets.
One important message from the report is that costly investments are not needed to mitigate the effects of extreme weather events; there are other ways of dealing with the impacts that do not involve major spending on infrastructure, he told IPS.
That clarification is important because funds for climate change adaptation are scarce in this region, added the expert, who is co-chair of IPCC Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.
The IPCC, which was established in 1988, has published four comprehensive assessment reports reviewing the latest climate science, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its "efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."
Field was in Havana to participate in a workshop held to divulge the results of the IPCC "Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation", produced as a tool for climate adaptation policy-making.
According to statistics provided in the Apr. 18-19 workshop, the rise in sea level could lead to a reduction in the size of the Caribbean islands and have a negative impact on infrastructure, including airports, roads and capital cities, which tend to be located near the coast.
More than half of the population in the region lives less than 1.5 km from the coast. Ian King, an expert from Barbados with the United Nations Development Programme Caribbean Disaster Risk Reduction Initiative (UNDP CRMI), said the first challenge is to assess the threats, in order to decide on the most suitable adaptation policies.
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