Friday, 3 December 2010

Cook Islands shares lessons learnt in preparing climate change report

Mii Matamaki of the Cook Islands in middle

Cancun Mexico - The Cook Islands were featured in a Pacific side event at the Cancun climate change talks, highlighting the obstacles they face as a small island nation in coping with the impacts of climate change.

One of the key criteria that parties to the UN climate change convention must adhere to, is the completion of a ‘national communications’. This is a status report on all climate change related matters in the country, including that of a greenhouse gas emission inventory. This report is to be submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming bringing about climate change that has consequences.

The Cook Islands completed their first national communications report in 1999 and are now in the process of finalising their second report for which there have been numerous challenges.

Mii Matamaki, the Second National Communication Project Coordinator at the National Environment Service in the Cook Islands shared these obstacles in the four years it has taken for the Cook Islands to complete their second national communications report.

“One of the major concerns we have is that there is no full time person committed to the project, leading the different components,” explained Matamaki.

“Most of the activities were done through consultancies which have also taken time to develop, we’ve also had work which had to be redone which took more time and further to that the delay in receiving funding has also added to dragging out this process.”

One of the key highlights noted in producing this report is the increase in greenhouse gas emissions of the Cook Islands by 33% in comparison to 10 years ago. Matamaki attributes this to the heavy reliance on fossil fuel which is now being addressed by the Cook Islands Government.

“Despite this, the Cook Islands contribute a very insignificant amount to the global greenhouse gas emissions, but we have noticed an increase in that tiny amount by over 30%.”

Along with mitigation activities in the Cook Islands, the nation has also worked towards adapting to the impacts of climate change. A vulnerability assessment carried out highlighted ‘water’ as a priority issue to be addressed. From this the nation undertook adaptation activities to increase the water capacity in the communities such as providing water tanks and educational awareness on water conservation. Full detail of these and other adaptation activities will be available in the Cook Islands second national communications report.

“We are coming close to now completing it and hope it will be done by January next year, once it is we will do a national launch in the Cook Islands followed by presenting it to the Secretariat of the UNFCCC”.

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