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Jamaica takes stock of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Published:Friday | January 23, 2015 | 1:00 AM

Petre Williams-Raynor, Contributing Editor

JAMAICA IS looking to bolster its planning for climate change while meeting its international obligations, with the start of work on an inventory of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions this month.

The island is among those most vulnerable to climate change impacts, including sea-level rise and stronger or more frequent hurricanes, precipitated by global warming, which is fuelled by GHG emissions.

These gases include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane.

Under its Third National Communication and Biennial Update Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Jamaica will, over the next nine months, calculate its emissions from 2006 to 2012.

"This will give us a profile of how much we are emitting. It is also an obligation and a requirement of ours as a party to the Convention; this is one way of determining what the annual greenhouse gas emissions are globally", explained Project Administrator Clifford Mahlung.

"We are going to also use the information to develop our intended nationally determined contributions to the effort to reduce GHG emissions, which all parties [to the UNFCCC] must submit by March this year, as one of the commitments for the new [international] agreement [on climate change] ..." added the former senior climate negotiator for Jamaica.

Already, they have recruited a six-member team to conduct the inventory, including a lead consultant out of the United Kingdom who, Mahlung said, has started work.

"The international expert is already contracted and the local experts will be contracted as at the first of February," he noted.

A training workshop, Mahlung noted, will follow.

"The workshop is specifically to teach the participants how to use the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) methodology for calculating GHG emissions, that in the future we will be able to calculate the emissions nationally without having to bring in somebody internationally. It will also get everybody, including the national experts, data providers and other interested persons, to understand what goes into the preparation of a national GHG inventory," he explained, adding that the event will run over two days.

DATA COLLECTION

Meanwhile, the inventory is to capture data on "how much emissions you produce from things like the power plant that burns fossil fuel or motor cars that are powered by petroleum that produce carbon dioxide emissions or emissions from industrial processes like bauxite and cement production".

They are also to take stock of, among other things, the agriculture sector, which produces emissions through its use of, for example, fertilisers and changes in land-use practices.

"If it is forest, for example, the trees store emissions, but if you change from trees to open land or grass, then you lose that ability and that is seen as a source [of emissions]," Mahlung said.

Critically, the inventory team will also consider areas where Jamaica can reduce emissions.

"We will be looking at, for example, the new power plant we intend to install, how much emissions if you move from fossil fuel to other sources, such as to natural gas, you can cut; and at energy efficiency, particularly in buildings," Mahlung noted.

The Third National Communication, of which the GHG inventory is one component, is funded by the Global Environment Facility to the tune of US$852,000 and is executed through the United Nations Development Programme.

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